Court to hear lawsuit that targets Emergency Manager law

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The filers of the suit believe they have convinced the judge that every day financial review teams and Emergency Managers are on the job, the rights of people are being denied.

It's the way the appointed teams and manager do business - in secret - that is the target of the lawsuit.

When State Treasurer Andy Dillon introduced the members of Detroit's financial review team, he made an important issue clear right away.

" Under Public Act 4 the meetings that we hold are confidential and we're not subject to open meetings act," Dillon said at the time.

But two men are challenging elements if Public Act 4 and the open meetings issue in their lawsuit, the second filed by Highland Park school board secretary Robert Davis who is moving to stop the work of the financial review team now working with city officials in Detroit.

Attorney Andrew Patterson says there is a reason he believes the judge moved to hear the issue quickly.

"Because they are holding the meetings in secret," says Patterson. "The open meetings act was just monumental legislation passed in the 70s, in an era where people recognized that the open discussion of issues helped and I don't know why the legislature chose to go away from that or why the financial review team feels that things done in secret are gonna be better and accepted more publicly when they're done in secret. I just don't think that's the truth."

Filed in Ingham County court, Chief Judge William Collette will hear elements of the case first thing Thursday morning.

If he finds the way the review teams conduct business, with their meetings in secret, is a problem, Davis believes it could mean the beginning of the end of Public Act 4 and the process that creates emergency managers for government bodies.

"The review team is essential in this process. If they're not able to make a recommendation to the governor as it relates to other – not a local unit of government should be appointed emergency manager , the governor has no authority to appoint an emergency manager," says Davis.

"I don't know how discussing these possibilities, some of them Draconian, I would agree, how discussing those in public hurts the ends result," says Patterson.

 The filers of the lawsuit can't predict what the judge will do.

They are optimistic because they were told to serve the governor's office and the state treasurer in order that their representatives will appear in court.

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