Detroit's Financial Review Team Work Null And Void, Judge Rules

WDIV reports Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette has voided the work of Detroit's state-appointed financial review team, and the Highland Park Schools review team, whose work resulted in the appointment of an emergency manager for the district.

Last week, Collette found both groups had violated Michigan's Open Meetings Act.

That ruling came in response to legal challenge filed by Highland Park School board member and AFSCME Council 25 representative Robert Davis. Davis alleged state Treasurer Andy Dillon and Gov. Rick Snyder were violating the law by insisting on a closed-door process for the state-appointed financial review team that is currently examining Detroit's finances.

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton told the Free Press last week that the department does not consider the review team "a public body" and therefore it is not subject to the Open Meetings Act.

But Collette disagreed, ruling the last week that the meetings must be open, and on Wednesday that the group's private meetings are no longer valid.

In December, Snyder appointed the 10-member board, which includes Dillon, to take a closer look at Detroit's books after the city failed a preliminary review of its finances.

The Detroit review team and Highland Park's review team were appointed and met under Public Act 4, Michigan's emergency manager law, which grants the governor the power to investigate municipalities' and school districts' finances and shift them to state receivership if he sees fit.

Last week, a lawyer representing the state of Michigan suggested that he would appeal Collete's injuction to suspend the Detroit review team's meetings.

Davis has also filed suit against the appointment of the Highland Park Schools emergency manager, Jack Martin.

In a Highland Park School Board meeting Tuesday, the body voted unanimously to forgo an appeal of Martin's appointment, MLive reports.

How Collette's ruling would affect Martin's position as the district's emergency manager remains to be seen. The Associated Press reports the state attorney general's office will review the ruling.

UPDATE: 2:55 p.m. -- WDIV reports Jack Martin can no longer serve as emergency manager of the Highland Park Schools. An assistant attorney general said in court Martin would have to leave the position.

But according to WDIV, Martin thinks he'll keep his job:

"I assume the AG is handling it and working with the court and I'm just doing my job here," Martin said.

He's been working in the district for three weeks and said he’s not worried about losing any work.

"I don't think there are any material decisions that would be impacted at this point," he said.