Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Detroit town hall: Conyers vows to use White House relationships to fight state takeover

Detroit town hall: Conyers vows to use White House relationships to fight state takeover

Hundreds of concerned residents joined local leaders Monday night at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, singing "We Shall Overcome" and speaking out against the prospect of an emergency manager running the state's largest city.

"Emergency managers, so-called, are merely a dictatorial ruse for a governor to take over and suspend democratic management," U.S. Rep. John Conyers told the crowd, as recorded by several local television stations.

Conyers, who has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review the constitutionality of Michigan's Public Act 4, told residents he will use his relationships in the White House to stop the appointment of an emergency manager for Detroit.

"It just so happens that I have a closer relationship with the 44th President of the United States and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, than I have ever had with anybody in the Washington White House," he said, failing to mention the public disputes he has had with President Barack Obama.

The state launched a preliminary review of Detroit's finances in early December, finding "probable financial stress" that warranted a formal review. Gov. Rick Snyder last week named a 10-member review team that will have up to 60 days to investigate the city's finances, but he promised to continue to work with city leaders, who are negotiating with local unions in an attempt to avoid projected insolvency.

"My administration has worked – and will continue to work – collectively and collaboratively with Mayor Bing and city officials to ensure a revitalized, strong and successful Detroit," the governor said last week.

Tuesday's town hall, organized by Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, lasted around three hours. Fox 2 reports organizers asked residents to circulate petitions in an attempt to repeal Michigan's newly-strengthened emergency manager law, which critics contend is undemocratic because it allows government appointees to dissolve elected bodies and break union contracts.

"Detroit knows how to deal with Detroit's issues," State Rep. Harvey Santana told the television station. "Lansing needs to deal with Lansing's issues." 

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