Huffpost Detroit

Judge Rules Emergency Manager Process, Financial Review Teams Subject To Open Meetings Act

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UPDATE: Feb. 6 -- The Detroit News reported Ingham County Circuit Judge denied issuing an opinion on Feb. 2 ordering Detroit's Emergency Manager Review Board to hold open meetings.

According to the Detroit News, a meeting between two attorneys and the judge was accidentally reported as a ruling.

Ingham County Circuit Court Chief Judge William Collete ruled Thursday that Michigan's emergency manager financial review boards must open their meetings to the public.

The ruling is a response to a legal challenge filed by Highland Park School board member and AFSCME Council 25 representative Robert Davis against Treasurer Andy Dillon and Gov. Rick Snyder over the closed-door process of the state-appointed financial review team that is currently examining Detroit's finances.

The suit claims the review board has violated Michigan's Open Meetings Act of 1976, which requires public bodies to conduct nearly all business at open meetings.

Davis also filed suit this week against the appointment of Highland Park Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Dillon has argued the closed meetings are legal.

"Under Public Act 4 the meetings that we hold are confidential and we're not subject to the Open Meetings Act," he said Jan. 10, during the public introduction Detroit's review board.

Those who oppose the emergency manager legislation have been vocal critics of the closed-door meetings.

Brandon Jessup, chairman and CEO of Michigan Forward, a group sponsoring a petition to freeze the emergency manager law, criticized the lack of transparency allowed under Public Act 4 in a recent press statement.

"The exclusion of community members severely discredits the 'early warning' theory often used by Michigan's Chief Executive [Snyder]," Jessup said. "Public Act 4 provides a blank check to special interests focused on selling public assets, eliminating public contracts and dissolving Democracy."

Judge Collete will make a final decision on the case early next week, Channel 7 reports.

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