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JoAnn Watson issues memo regarding $4 million ad deal

Detroit City Councilmember JoAnn Watson

Detroit City Councilmember JoAnn Watson

Memorandum September 6, 2013

From: Council Member Jo Ann Watson

To: City Clerk, Janice Winfrey, Council President Saunteel Jenkins, Colleagues

 

Please find this communique as an effort to seek clarification regarding the minutes of the Detroit City Council’s formal session convened on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10 a.m.

Specifically, I have been notified that I have been listed as a “Yes” vote on one of the contracts referenced on the formal agenda; a $4 million contract for advertising awarded to The Michigan Chronicle, 479 Ledyard, Detroit, Michigan.

Apparently, it has been cited in the city clerk’s council printed minutes as a contract approved by members of the Detroit City Council unanimously — 6 to 0.  However, the City Council did not participate in a voice vote on this contract on Tuesday, September 3, 2013.

The item was listed on the agenda as a contract approved prior to the council session by the Emergency Manager during the week of August 19, 2013 (during the recess period when the Detroit City Council did not convene formal voting sessions).

As the only council member who raised concerns about the $4 million contract, — “Was a request for bids submitted? were other Detroit-based media outlets considered? What Detroit products or services are to be advertised? How can we rationalize an amount this large during this austerity period of the City? — I would not have voted to approve it, nor do I wish to be listed as approving by default.

Upon consultation with Detroit City Clerk staff on Friday, September 6, 2013, I was advised that a list of contracts scheduled to be approved during the council recess had been allegedly transmitted to the City Council during the recess period, and any contracts which were not “held” by council members were deemed approved.  I was further advised that the Emergency Manger’s approval followed the alleged submission of contracts to council members during the recess period.

Let me state, categorically that I did not receive the $4 million contract for approval/disapproval during the recess period; thus I could not have acted to “hold” a contract outside my scope of knowledge.

Since my first awareness of the contract was Tuesday, September 3, 2013, during the City Council’s post-recess formal session, and since I did raise verbal concerns during the session, whereupon I was verbally advised during the Council session that the contract had already been authorized by the Emergency Manager, I hereby issue an official request for “reconsideration of the alleged Council approval of the $4 million contract awarded to the Michigan Chronicle.”

I have spoken with Attorney Lewis Smith, designated legal representative of the Detroit City Council from the City’s Law Department on Friday, September 6, 2013, who will provide the legal framework for said reconsideration on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 during the formal session at 10 a.m.

 

See related article: http://michigancitizen.com/media-company-gets-5-million-deal-with-orr/

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