• Charter Commissioners, “Hidding The Fine Print”

    by  • September 14, 2011 • Articles on the Proposed Charter for the City of Detroit, Detroit, Government, Politics

    This past week, several community meetings included visits from members of the Charter Commission. Several reports by Hood Research members at the September 10th, monthly meeting included occurrences of visits by commission members at several community meetings.

    On Thursday, September 8th, Janice Mitchell Ford, the chair of the Charter Commission, visited the Barton McFarlane Neighborhood Association meeting. She described the charter in her words. At one point when question on specifics, she became combative and sought to bully a neighborhood resident  to stop all questions and merely accept her rendition of the proposed legal document. However, another attendee of that meeting stated that he felt that there was an effort to “Hide the fine print”.

    Similar reports were made from those who attended the Democratic 13th and 14th district monthly meetings. Charter commission member John Johnson attended the 14th district meeting. He passed out the attached handout. Charter Commission Handout
    It was reported that he only had about ten copies with him, leaving many without a copy. As reported, “How can we vote on something without being able to read it.” The Charter commission has relied almost exclusively on their website. The website as well as other commission expenses, are being paid for with city tax dollars. The city has a population where few have an at home Internet connection. Internet use is available to city residents at public libraries. There is usually a long waiting list and just recently the library commission announced six branch closings.

    The commission has been spending money since taking office. Instead of using city property they have leased an office and staff. The commission published a draft charter and then changed the entire document when the local media complained about the then proposed arrangement of council districts. The commission changed the charter again after the Governor rejected the original submission. The commission is reported to have asked for more money to continue work beyond the vote in November. If the charter is passed, then no further work would be needed. However there is speculation that the money requested is really to assist in campaigning for the charter. In this city any money spent would be best spent on providing the community with actual copies of the proposed charter and then providing help in understanding the legal terms and implications. At the federal level, the Congressional Budget Office ranks and rates proposed legislation to determine its cost. There has not been any effort to do this with this proposal even as some commissioners seek to profess that the charter will save the city money.

    This past Saturday at the 13th congressional district meeting, more than 10 copies of the handout was provided. Enough that some were brought and shared at the Hood Research meeting. However the delivery of charter related information was not improved. The impression given by those who attended, was that the charter is being sold on highlights without allowing any in depth discussion or dissection of the charter. There is a clear uncomfortableness, as reported, by the commission to examine the proposed charter in depth before November. By then Detroit will be voting on whether or not to adopt the charter. Hood Research suggests a no vote. If you don’t know vote no. If there are admirable changes that can be made, they can still be made. They do not have to be rushed into existence nor do we have to adopt a new charter on faith.


    Henry Teutsch is a member of Hood Research. An interest in writing, with a love for programming databases and web sites, allows Henry to do both on The Thinkers Report.


    2 Responses to Charter Commissioners, “Hidding The Fine Print”

    1. Valerie burris
      September 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM

      Henry, thank you.Can you send a copy of this to my e-mail address? My neighbor who is a precinct delegate fort he 14th gave a similar report. She also said that Mr. Johnson didn’t give an announcement of the meeting that was held yesterday.

    2. tombarrow@AnewVisionForDetroit.com
      September 15, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      Henry never ceases to amaze me. His analysis is excellent and right on target. Both he and Hood Research have a direct finger on what the community is also saying and thinking. This proposed charter just furthers lawlessness and continues the organized attempt to wrest control of the City of Detroit and its assets away from the people who stayed and who are Detroit. Under this proposed document. We will be left presiding over nothing here in the city. I urge a no vote. As President of Citizens For Detroits Future, we are mobilizing to defeat this vey bad document and urge that like minded and concerned Detroiters sign up to become a trained CFDF election challenger by calling our office at 5-Detroit. Henry is right “If You Dont Know, Vote No” We cannot let them steal their way to power again. Thats 5detroit (533-8764)