Brown’s Actions Placed Human Life and Detroit Credibility at Risk
On Wednesday, September 11, the anniversary of a horrible event in American history, City of Detroit Chief Compliance Officer Gary Brown, appointee for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, shut power down to much of the city’s public buildings to send a message. This according to an interview he gave a local media TV station. What that message was, is unknown, but the message received by the many people trapped in elevators, on the People Mover or those who were unable to perform work for the city or the many other government offices affected by the loss of power was clear. Their well being was not important to Gary Brown.
According to the Detroit News, the loss of power forced hundreds of city workers to leave work early. Many students and Wayne State University could not attend class. Those at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center or 36″^ District Court could not conduct business. The 115 customers at 1,400 sites including many traffic lights were left without power so that Brown could send a message. People were trapped in elevators or in the dark in buildings so large that windows can’t provide enough light to safely walk to an exit. The Free Press later reported that the power lines from DTE Energy that feeds the city power failed. This is how what Brown stated in his interview. This is not the reason Brown gave for shutting down power. Brown stated that he wanted to send a message and therefore the city and many thousands of people suffered.
Browns actions put lives in danger. On a very hot day of over ninety degrees, people were trapped in elevators without an easy way to escape. It would have made sense to close the use of elevators before shutting down the power. People who were on the 13″ floor of the CATMC visiting their elected council members would have had to walk down to exit the building. How can those in wheel chairs, walkers or those who can’t traverse 13 flights of stairs be expected to cope with Brown’s message? The actions by Brown’s admission caused those doing business in these buildings to lose time and money. The employees cannot get paid for the time they missed. Brown did not ensure that emergency personal was in place nor did he notify those to execute any evacuation plan. Brown acted reckless by his own admission and the widely reported chaos that followed.
The EM’s spokesman stated, in several interviews, that there was an increased (electrical) load on the system due to the heat. However this explanation does not make sense. The local media has been reporting for years that over half of the cities street lights are not working, not using power. Those that are working are also reported to be using power from DTE, not Detroit. Many schools have been closed over the years. Many city buildings have reduced staff due to the cuts in the city workforce. There should be a significant reduction in power use for the city and the customers then existed under the previous mayor, less than four years ago. Additionally, these were not the first hot days this summer.
“We did start calling our customers prior to taking them down and asking them to turn off air conditioners, but they weren’t responding as fast as we would like them to so we had to send them a strong message by turning the power off.” Read more: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/23415960/what-is-the-cause-of-detroits-power-outage#ixzz2f7PFswf3
If air conditioners in a large public building use so much power that it will cause a failure, then perhaps the city should return Mistersky to full production so that this never happens again.
There have been several hot days in a row this year many over ninety degrees. During this there were no outages or problems with the power lines from DTE or Detroit. Further why did the entire electric customers have to go without power if as was first reported, that the system was overloaded by power demands? Could Brown have reduced the demand by just turning off power to a few customers or just a few buildings? Why didn’t the city public lighting engineers locate a few buildings that could have been shutdown thereby sparing the loss of power to all users of the city’s electricity? It’s clear that Brown and his boss Orr are not being truthful of the exact reasons for the power shutdown. It’s clear that their actions did not take into account the best interests of the city and those people affected by this power shutdown. Was a message received?
It’s clear by Brown’s TV interview that he did not understand the impact of the power shutdown and did not feel concern for the consequences. What is not clear is why Brown was not fired for his actions. He placed lives at risk and placed the city at risk. People and companies may have cause to sue the city for these actions and they only need to play the interview of Gary Brown to show proof that the power was shut down, or turned off, as opposed to an act of weather or some other natural occurrence. If the city is in Bankruptcy, why do those who make these decisions not do so with everyone’s best interests? Brown should resign or be removed from his position as appointee with the city of Detroit. Send that message so that this historic event, the first for Detroit, does not repeat in our future.
On June 20th, Kevyn Orr issues Order No 8, which attempts to order the city of Detroit auditor General and Inspector General to investigate the city pension funds for potential fraud, waste, corruption and abuse. These accusations come at the behest of Kevyn Orr, without mention of or proof of any reasonableness that these allegations exist. Kevyn Orr attempts to support his order by using Public Act 436 Section 10(1) which allows the EM to issue orders to local appointed and elected officials that are necessary to accomplish the purposes of the act. Orr’s order then continues to quote the city charter’s varying sections that address the independent offices of Inspector General and Auditor General that describes their powers and duties.
This is in direct violation of the city charter. Orr does not have the authority or power to order these offices. The city charter specifically states that these offices are independent of the mayor and city council and are removed from their influence. Public Act 436 provides the EM with the powers of the mayor and city council. It does not extend to other portions of the city that are not under the authority of these two branches, hence their independence. Once the heads of these departments are made, they are separate from control from their appointing offices.
The added commentary from the city charter states;
COMMENTARY TO ARTICLE 7.5: Article 7.5 (Independent Departments and Offices) is new. The departments and offices located in this article have a unique advisory or investigative role to fill in city government. Therefore, such departments and offices should be seen as reasonably removed from the influence of the executive and legislative branches of city government.
Kevyn Orr attempts to use the charter as justification for his order when the charter specifically prohibits such an order. Kevyn Orr must follow the city charter. However Public Act 436 contains a provision to allow Kevyn Orr to engage in his probe.
Section 12(1) p states;
Retain 1 or more persons or firms, which may be an individual or firm selected from a list approved by the state treasurer, to perform the duties of a local inspector or a local auditor as described in this subdivision. The duties of a local inspector are to assure integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the local government by conducting meaningful and accurate investigations and forensic audits, and to detect and deter waste, fraud, and abuse. At least annually, a report of the local inspector shall be submitted to the emergency manager, the state treasurer, the superintendent of public instruction if the local government is a school district, and each state senator and state representative who represents that local government. The annual report of the local inspector shall be posted on the local government’s website within 7 days after the report is submitted. The duties of a local auditor are to assure that internal controls over local government operations are designed and operating effectively to mitigate risks that hamper the achievement of the emergency manager’s financial plan, assure that local government operations are effective and efficient, assure that financial information is accurate, reliable, and timely, comply with policies, regulations, and applicable laws, and assure assets are properly managed. At least annually, a report of the local auditor shall be submitted to the emergency manager, the state treasurer, the superintendent of public instruction if the local government is a school district, and each state senator and state representative who represents that local government. The annual report of the local auditor shall be posted on the local government’s website within 7 days after the report is submitted.
This allows Orr to hire the necessary auditors and or inspectors for any probe but would require that those hired and their probe be funded by the state of Michigan. Kevyn Orr is violating the charter and ignoring the specific sections within Public Act 436.
Orr needs to be investigated for abusing his authority, for violating the local and state laws and for any code of conduct violations that he may be violating as a licensed attorney.
Council Member Gary Brown is reported to be in negotiations to accept employment with Kevyn Orr, the Emergency Manager over Detroit. Orr was appointed to replace the duties and responsibilities of the elected mayor and city council under state law, Public Act 436. The media has reported since last week that Brown is intended to resign from the city council. This has not yet occurred and Brown continues to vote and be an active participant.
The city charter recently was updated with a section that was supposed to strengthen the ethics requirements of city officials, those elected, hired and appointed. This section addresses precisely what Brown is attempting to do;
Sec. 2-106.5. One Year Post-Employment Prohibition.
Subject to state law, for one (1) year after employment with the City, a Public Servant shall not lobby or appear before the City Council or any City department, agency, board, commission or body or receive compensation for any services in connection with any matter in which he or she was directly concerned, personally participated, actively considered or acquired knowledge while working for the City. Subject to state law, for a period of one (1) year after employment with the City, a Public Servant shall not accept employment with any person or company that did business with the City during the former Public Servant’s tenure if that Public Servant was in any way involved in the award or management of that contract or the employment would require the sharing of confidential information.
Brown has announced his interest, if not a direct intention, to leave the city council and work for what is now effectively the administrative branch. This is a conflict of interest. This will be a violation of the city charter and it is a probable violation of the city’s new and improved ethics section. The much celebrated commentary which was heralded as a means to make clear the intent of the charter commissioners and recently used in the defense of the election ballot language for the charter is below.
COMMENTARY: These new sections 2-106.1 to 2-106.14 replace section 2-106 of the 1997 Charter which: (1) prohibited public officers from using their office for private gain; (2) required “reasonable disclosure of financial interests held by any elective officer, appointee, or employee” under certain circumstance; and (3) generally prohibited actions which create an appearance of impropriety, all of which were to be implemented by ordinance. This new section is a more comprehensive regulation of the ethical behavior expected of elected officials, appointees and employees. Section 2-106.1(2)(b) is intended to prohibit the inappropriate use or disclosure of confidential information. Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit a relevant Public Servant from using such information to perform their job duties.
This also reflects the intent to prohibit the actions of which council member Gary Brown is currently engaged. He should be immediately investigated by the ethics commission and probably the Inspector General’s office. The city council can also open its own investigation to ensure that any item under Brown’s review, control or influence by vote has not be misused for his or Orr’s gain.
There are multiple reports that Kevyn Orr has ordered City Council President Charles Pugh to “show up” for work on Wednesday, June 26th, or lose his salary, benefits and perhaps other means of compensation. If true, this would be a violation of the law. Kevyn Orr does not have the ability or the authority to issue such an order under the city charter nor under state law Public Act 436 of 2012.
Public Act 436 mandates that upon the appointment of an Emergency Manager that the salary of the local mayor and city council be immediately rescinded. See Section 13, which is the only portion of the act that addresses the salary of local officials. This occurred when Orr was first appointed by Governor Snyder. Not long after Orr issued an order, still in effect, that provides for the salary of the mayor and the members of city council. This was Order No 1 of the EM. An excerpt reads;
“The Emergency Manager has determined that at the present time the restoration of the salary, wages, compensation, and other benefits of the Mayor and the City Council is consistent with the financial and operating plan”
“2. The salary, wages, compensation and other benefits of the Detroit City Council are hereby restored, immediately and in full upon the effective date hereof, as if they had never been eliminated.”
Because Orr did not specifically state each council members name, nor add conditions for the retention of salary nor enter into any type of contract for the continuation of the salary of the city council and mayor, Orr cannot now rescind this order.
Additionally Public Act 436 does not allow for the Emergency Manager to remove, eliminate or rescind the salary, wages, and compensation of those elected officials after they have been restored under the powers of the act. The sole condition is that the terms be that which the EM considers appropriate to be consistent with the financial and operating plan.
Since Orr never entered this into a plan or an agreement, he cannot now modify his previous order for this council or its replacement after the November elections. Lastly Pugh does not report to Orr as Pugh did not report to Mayor Bing. The council may at any time take leave of absences without permission from other government bodies. The council polices itself. Pugh, Kenyatta and any council member does not need permission to miss council sessions. There is not any requirement nor rule as to how often or how long council must meet as a body. If abuse is suspected, or if there is an accusation that impropriety has occurred, or a violation of the ethics ordinance has occurred, or any type of wrong doing up to and including any suspected violation of the city charter, there are multiple city departments that are responsible for the independent investigation. Orr only has the ability to submit a request to have Pugh’s actions investigated. Pugh cannot be assumed to be guilty just because an Emergency Manager has been placed over the city of Detroit.
Actions voted by Commission on Thursday May 23 not valid
Edward Keelean is not the Corporation Counsel for the city of Detroit. Edward Keelean participated in and voted during a meeting of the Election Commission for the city of Detroit on May 23rd. The actions by Keelean and the commission violate the charter, violate our rule of law and show disrespect for our voting and election process.
Keelean should immediately step down and resign from the law department. The Election Commission should immediately reschedule the actions taken on May 23rd so as not to include the vacant office of corporation counsel. Not taking these actions is gross misconduct by Keelean and the city clerk, Janice Winfrey.
The city charter contains the rules for the formation of the election commission in section 3-102 shown below;
Sec. 3-102. Election Commission
The Department of Elections is headed by the Election Commission composed of:
1. The City Clerk, who is Chairperson;
2. The President of the City Council; and
3. The Corporation Counsel.
Edward Keelean by illegally assuming the role of corporation counsel violated the city charter by participating in and voting as part of the election commission. The votes and actions taken by the commission on May 23rd are invalid. Keelean must also be held responsible for his violations. The office of corporation counsel is described in section 7.5-201, “The Law Department” of the city charter. The first paragraph (listed below) instructs the only process for selecting and obtaining the head of the law department, the Corporation Counsel.
The Law Department is headed by the Corporation Counsel who is the duly authorized and official legal counsel for the City of Detroit and its constituent branches, units and agencies of government. The Mayor shall appoint the Corporation Counsel subject to approval of the City Council. However, if the City Council does not disapprove the appointment within thirty (30) days, it is deemed confirmed.
Only by mayoral appointment is there a corporation counsel. Edward Keelean has never been appointed to this role. He has assumed this function in violation of the charter. The city charter does not allow any automatic succession to a vacancy in the office of corporate counsel. Thus Keelean is not the head of the law department, he is not the corporate counsel and he is not part of the election commission. Failure by him or the clerk to address these actions threatens the rule of law within Detroit and the sanctity of our election process. Allowing the actions taken on May 23rd to stand is the same as allowing any ordinary person to take part as an official in an office specified and outlined by our charter.
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