Council Write Up March 25th 2014


Council Write Up March 25th 2014


 TRIBUTE TO GEORGE JACKSON- The council honored George Jackson, longtime head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, at the formal session today. The council room was completely full with citizens, city staff members, and others all crammed in to pay their respects to Mr, Jackson. After Mr. Jackson finished his remarks he received a standing ovation. Mr. Jackson announced his retirement last week. He will continue in his capacity on the boards of Eastern Market and Detroit Future City.




The big question of the day, as it has been for several weeks, was Community Advisory Councils. This session was the final round of month long process to craft a CAC ordinance. The biggest point of debate over the past several weeks had been the process by which the senior issues and youth member of council would be selected.There were two main schools of thought.

On one side Member Leland and Member Benson argued for direct appointment by council. The rationale was that the framers of the charter intended the CACs to have close relationships with district councilors. By allowing district councilors to have a role in the composition of the councils, you promoted a close bond between the district councilor and the CAC.

On the other side of the issue, you had Member James Tate and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez. Both members argued that the autonomy of the CAC would be subverted, if councilors were allowed to make direct appointments. Member Tate and Castaneda-Lopez were tenacious and vocal in their dissent from what at times over the past month was a majority of councilors who seemed to support direct appointment.

Last Thursday, in committee, Member Benson and Member Leland outvoted Member Sheffield in referring a version of the ordinance that would mandate direct appointment by council to the formal session on Tuesday. They did so knowing that amendments giving the CAC a role in the selection process could, and almost certainly would, be proposed.

An interesting piece of information that came out of committee on Thursday was the CAC could not in and of itself make appointments. This scuttled the most community-based of the proposed ordinance that would have had the CACs make appointments completely autonomously.

As we came into the formal session today there were two basic proposals 1) The district councilor picks both the senior issues and youth member 2) The CAC submits a list of three names for each potential seat and the council appoints from that list. The discussion for the first several minutes centered around those two proposals. Then, Member Sheffield chimed in with her own suggestion. She thought that the community should have input, but that having all of the communities input rest in the hands of the CAC was not that much better than having it all rest in the hands of the councilor. She wanted an open nominating process, whereby any member of the community could submit a nomination for the senior issues or youth member of council. This was met with a mixed response and some concerns about the feasibility of large numbers of nominations flooding in.  But eventually councilors latched on to this even more community based process. Some details as to how many nominations could come in etc. were not fleshed out and Member Tate raised concerns that having individuals nominate folks, especially if the CAC did not screen them before the names went to council, could be used as a back door way for councilor to do a direct nomination (Hey John Smith nominate yourself send your resume to my office and I’ll approve you!).  But everyone else seemed comfortable with it. Before the vote, Benson and Leland, to their credit, acknowledged that they could see the benefits of more direct community participation and ended up voting for a version that includes it. The ordinance that is currently being polished and finished up by the Law Department provides for the CACs and community to nominate individuals through the Clerk’s office between January 1st and January 31st of 2015 that the council will then appoint from. There is also a provision stating that no CAC member can hold any other governmental office other than precinct delegate or CDC member or be Council Staff if they wish to run for the CAC.




Council approved several contracts, for snow plowing equipment, for a debris clearing truck etc. etc. Council also approved several requests for public concerts.




We had several briefs from councilors. Member Castaneda-Lopez reported that she had attended an international conference on combating racism and intolerance all the way in Brussels. Member Tate reported on his continued excellent efforts to organize folks in his community, noting that 81 people showed up to his latest District meeting. Member Leland and Member Sheffield both promoted meet-ups that they were hosting in their respective districts and Member Benson spread the word about a job fair he was helping out with it. 

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