Detroit – The city’s voters will agree on Tuesday a charter revision plan aimed at expanding oversight in the Detroit government and improving the quality of life for residents.
Among its far-reaching provisions, the proposal provides for a new process for the selection of the city’s chief prosecutor and police chief and would create a voter-installed fire brigade supervisory body.
He calls for the establishment of a department for disability issues and a department for environmental justice and sustainability, as well as a task force for reparations and African-American justice. She proposes an office for veterans and immigration affairs and an office for economic justice and consumer advancement.
The initiative, called Proposal P, was developed over three years by an elected nine-member Detroit Charter Revision Commission with the support of a coalition of environmental and human rights groups.
The commission and the coalitions that support it claim the plan will realign city government with a greater focus on quality of life issues such as affordable water and public transport, increased oversight and police reform.
However, opponents, including the government of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, argue that some provisions would create legal and operational challenges and confusion among residents. They argue that the costs associated with implementing the recommendations would drive the city back into bankruptcy.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer also said she did not support the proposal and refused to give her stamp of approval this spring.
The Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the audit plan to appear on the August 3 vote, overturning the lower court rulings.
According to the plan, the mayor would have less autonomy on certain appointments, including the Detroit business adviser and the city police chief. The top attorney would be named as part of a joint appointment by the mayor and the council. The city’s chief constable would be chosen by the mayor – as is common practice today – but with the changes, the selection would require a majority vote of three from the mayor, city council and Detroit Police Department.
The charter plan would also authorize 47 new elected posts and create 102 newly appointed posts.
In order to improve the quality of life, she proposes a reduced, income-based tariff system for public transport and new transport standards. It provides an income-based, affordable water tariff system, a fund to support the water bill and a health fund for environmental justice. Other aspects of the plan include free sidewalk maintenance, free public internet, affordable housing, and a property overvaluation aid program.
In the city administration, it focuses on the creation of wage and standards committees and the introduction of “responsible contract terms” for city contracts.
“You create an expectation for the people of Detroit that will not be met,” claims Sheila Cockrel, executive director of CitizenDetroit and a former member of Detroit city council, who does not support the plan. “The hard part about explaining it is that people won’t even understand how screwed up it is until the city tries to operate under it.”
But councilor Raquel Castañeda-López said the proposal was more personal for her. She quoted stories her mother had told about growing up in the west of the city and witnessing the 1967 uprising.
“It was unclean and it was unsafe because of public health conditions,” she said of the city. “Detroiters are saying the same thing nearly 50 decades later, that they want clean, safe, affordable housing, and that is what Proposition P is about.”
Worrying government regulations, critics say, include the reintroduction of local residency requirements for new hires who must live within 20 miles of city limits and firefighters to live within city limits, which is not legal under state law.
There’s also a revision of the plan that gives residents up to 14 years to protest their tax assessments. Now the state of Michigan only gives up for up to a year.
Detroit’s senior finance officials initially estimated the revisions would cost $ 3.4 billion over four years, then $ 2 billion after the charter commissioners revised the plan.
Chief Financial Officer Jay Rising’s office has announced that the city’s four-year financial plan will become unbalanced if the revised Bylaws are so approved in August.
The Charter Commission disagrees, saying the allegations against the plan are “bullying tactics” and have estimated the plan could cost $ 7 million a year to implement.
The city charter, which defines the structure of the government, its powers and responsibilities, is presented to the electorate, as a rule, every 16 years. However, in 2012 the timetable set out in the 1997 Charter was not changed and only six years after the last Charter revision question was passed, another question was put to the vote.
The 2012 charter included more than 140 revisions. This year the Commission added 65 provisions with new mandates.
If Proposal P is rejected by the voters, the current Charter will remain in force and a new Commission question would automatically appear on the 2034 ballot.
Check out the full plan here.