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Council meeting gets heated

Lewis Smith

Lewis Smith

Detroit City Councilmember JoAnn Watson

Detroit City Councilmember JoAnn Watson

By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — In the Sept. 24 council session, Asst. Corporation Counsel Lewis Smith stormed out of the meeting after being questioned by Councilwoman JoAnn Watson.

Prior to his reaction, the council inquired about a written response from the law department regarding Watson’s request for representation in Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s bankruptcy filing.

According to Watson, the city’s bankruptcy filing is the most significant legal case in the history of the city and says the law department cannot be missing in action.

“Why are we paying a whole law department, if they’re not going to file an appearance before this bankruptcy judge?”  asked Watson. “There was no appearance by them, which is not acceptable.”

During council remarks, Councilwoman Watson stated the Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 436, was passed illegally in a lame duck session Dec. 2012.

“You can not come back with the same law that’s been repealed by the citizens of the state of Michigan,” Watson said. She continued to explain the process in which the current EM law’s predecessors PA72 and PA4 were repealed.

She then blamed the law department for not protecting the city under an emergency manager-led bankruptcy filing. Watson singled out Smith.

“There are two federal challenges to what’s taking place in the city of Detroit,” Watson said. “Challenges that have been put on stage by federal bankruptcy court. Those kind of issues could be addressed by the corporation counsel or even by Mr. Smith, if he chose to stand up for the city.”

According to Smith, corporation counsel has been unsuccessful in obtaining requested reports from Jones Day, the law firm hired to restructure the city’s debt. He did not explain why.

Smith said that he supported the councilwoman’s position.

“I agree with you. It’s not me.” Smith exclaimed while walking out of the session. “I told you not to vote for Jones Day.”


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