Judge orders state not to enter into consent agreement yet

LANSING — An Ingham County judge Tuesday ordered state officials not to enter into a consent agreement with the city of Detroit before March 29.

That’s beyond Monday’s deadline Gov. Rick Snyder has set for Detroit’s financial review team to report to him on whether the city of Detroit needs a state-appointed emergency manager to correct its fiscal woes.

State officials “shall not execute and/or sign a consent agreement or its equivalent with the City of Detroit, Detroit City Council, and/or with the mayor of the city of Detroit until further order of this court,” Ingham Circuit Judge William Collette said in a written order that postponed a hearing set for this Thursday until March 29.

It’s the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Snyder as he attempt to use the tough new emergency manager law he signed, Public Act 4, to address a financial crisis in Detroit.

Collette convened a hearing in Mason Tuesday morning in response to an emergency request by state officials to delay a contempt hearing for members of the Detroit financial review team, which was earlier scheduled for this Thursday.

Collette agreed to delay the hearing one week, until March 29, but only on condition the state be enjoined until then from entering into a consent agreement with the city of Detroit, according to the order.

“The city respects the judicial process and will simply follow the judge’s order,” Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement this afternoon.

Robert Davis, a member of the Highland Park school board who brought the lawsuit over the emergency manager process, described the ruling as “monumental.”

“I applaud Judge Collette for making sure that every official will in this state … obey the law,” Davis said.

Collette is concerned about possible violations of the Open Meetings Act in arriving at a proposed consent agreement Snyder made public last week. The judge in February ordered the team to stop meeting behind closed doors.

Geralyn Lasher, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said state officials were awaiting a copy of Collette’s order.

“The review team has until the 26th to complete their work, that’s by statute,” Lasher said. “If a Lansing judge has decided to change statute, we will have to see the details and examine how it will affect the Detroit financial review process.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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