Detroit Finance Study Team's Closed Sessions Permanently Barred by Judge
By Steve Raphael and Margaret Cronin Fisk – Feb 15, 2012 9:33 AM ET
A Michigan judge permanently barred a review team studying Detroit’s finances from using closed-door sessions.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, appointed the 10-member group in December after a preliminary study by the state treasurer found the city was in “probable financial stress.” The financial review team is considering whether Michigan’s largest city needs an emergency manager.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette last week issued a temporary restraining order barring closed-door sessions after a union official claimed they violated Michigan’s open-meetings law. Collette made the order permanent at a hearing today.
The first foundation “of this society is that we have an open government,” Collette said today. “To meet in private is to meet in private.”
Robert Davis, an official of a union that represents city employees, sued Snyder, the state treasurer and the review team, contending the group is required under Michigan law to hold meetings open to the public. The defendants said the group isn’t a public body as defined under Michigan’s Open-Meetings Act.
If the panel declares a financial emergency, the governor may appoint an emergency manager with sweeping powers to fire employees, sell assets, void union contracts and assume authority over the mayor and city council.
The case is Davis v. City of Detroit Financial Review Team, 12-112-CZ, Circuit Court, Ingham County, Michigan (Mason).
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