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Watson, Barrow meet with Dillon to discuss EFM

Staff report

DETROIT — On March 4, days after Gov. Rick Snyder declared a financial emergency in the city of Detroit, Michigan State Treasurer Andy Dillon, acting on behalf of Gov. Snyder, summoned each member of the Detroit City Council to one-on-one private meetings.

Councilmember JoAnn Watson enlisted Citizens for Detroit’s Future President Tom Barrow, CPA, to accompany her.

According to a statement released by Barrow, the two were greeted by Dillon, who proceeded to explain that the purpose of the meeting was to seek Watson’s support for an EFM for Detroit. Watson was asked to name four “sacred” things she would not want an EFM “to touch” in return for her cooperation.

Watson instead asked for the money owed to the city of Detroit by the state under an agreement between the Archer Administration and then-Gov. John Engler — an agreement Dillon called “not enforceable.”

According to the release, Dillon indicated that Detroit will have an EFM, regardless of any appeal. Barrow and Watson were told the purpose of the EFM was to cut the city’s future health and pension costs. Further, they were told an EFM would likely outsource the city’s transportation (DDOT) and lighting departments (Public Lighting).

Barrow says he left the meeting convinced, more than ever, that by misusing accounting rules and using flawed reasoning, the “financial emergency” is contrived so as to enable an appointed Detroit EFM to privatize the city’s bus system; to privatize the city’s public lighting system; to bust the city’s unions by privatizing clear city functions and thereby lay-off Detroit’s work force under the guise of right-sizing.

Gov. Snyder announced March 1 that the city was in a financial emergency. The city of Detroit was given 10 days to appeal the decision.

“I have been meeting with various members of City Council since the governor’s announcement,” Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement released March 5. “I continue to weigh all available options related to a possible appeal of the governor’s financial emergency declaration.”

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