The key to an effective Council is proper ordinance enforcement and following up the appointees job performance. Why did the Auditor General NOT report on the problems in the City or for that matter WHY did none of the appointed positions throw up the warning flag before the City melt down?????
About City Council
The Detroit City Council, one of the country's few full-time City legislative bodies, consists of nine (9) members elected at large for a four-year term. The City Council was first constituted as the legislative body of the City in 1824 (replacing a Board of Trustees) and was called the Common Council until July 1, 1974 - the effective date of Detroit's new City Charter.
If a vacancy occurs on the City Council thirty (30) days or more before the filing deadline for the general election in the City or a special City-wide election, the vacancy shall be filled at that election for the remainder of the unexpired term. If a vacancy occurs on City Council less than thirty (30) days before the filing deadline for a general election in the City, or special City-wide election, the vacancy shall not be filled until the subsequent general election in the City, or until the special City-wide election.
Council Members must be citizens of the United States, a resident of the City and at least 18 years of age at the time of filing. The Elected Officials Compensation Commission sets the Compensation of Council Members.
The Council Member receiving the highest number of votes is President of the Council, and the Council Member receiving the next highest number of votes is President Pro Tempore.
The City Council adopts such rules, as it deems necessary to govern its procedure and order of business. The City Council provides for the keeping of a journal of its proceedings. The journal is a public record. The City Clerk is Clerk of the Council.
The Council adopts the City's annual budget thereby establishing City government service programs and objectives for the year. Following the submittal of the Mayor's proposed budget to City Council, Council evaluates departmental objectives and performance to determine spending and program priorities for the delivery of city services.
Based on monitoring and investigation of the day-to-day operation of City government, the Council makes and amends the laws (Ordinances) to govern the operation of the City.
Some of the day-to-day Council activities are:
1. Approval of contracts involving City business.
2. Approval of changes in the City's budget.
3. Approval of the sale or disposition of City property.
4. Approval of the settlement of civil litigations involving the City.
5. Receiving complaints, petitions and reports affecting the operation of the City or the well being of its citizens.
6. Advocating for the City's and Detroiter's at other levels of government via resolutions, testimony and statements for the record.
The City Council monitors the administration of City government and City Departments to see that laws and programs are operating effectively and in the best interest of citizens. Assisting in this task is an Auditor General appointed by City Council to a ten-year non-renewable term; to make periodic audits of all city agencies; an Ombudsman appointed by City Council for a ten-year non-renewable term to investigate complaints against City departments, make recommendations and work with city departments to find solutions; a City Planning Commission appointed by City Council to advise on the social, physical and economic aspects of planning and development matters; a Historic Designation Advisory Board appointed by the City Council to advise on designation of historic sites and districts; a Research and Analysis Division to provide research and advise on matters requiring legislative action; and a Fiscal Analysis Division to research the fiscal implications of pending actions and advise on matters impacting the City budget. The Directors of all divisions are appointed by City Council. The Council also appoints the Director of the Board of Zoning Appeals as well as the seven members of the BZA. The council also appoints the nine-member Property Assessment Board of Review that hears appeals of assessments of property taxes and appeals for hardship exemptions.
City Council must approve the Mayor's appointees to the Board of Police Commissioners, the Human Rights Department and the Director of the Law Department. The Council nominates five members for the Cable Commission and the Mayor selects four.
The City Council President serves on the Board of the Detroit Transit Corporation and is an ex-Officio on the Employee Benefits board, and the Executive Committee of the Southeast Michigan Council on Governments. The City Council President also chairs all formal sessions, evening community meetings and executive sessions of the Council.
City Council has one representative each on the General Retirement Pension Board and the Police and Firefighters Pension Board.As mandated by the City Charter, City Council holds eight community meetings in the evening in various geographic areas of the City. The City Planning Commission arranges these meetings for Council.
Detroit City Council
The Legislative Branch
Chapter 1. City Council
Charter Mandated Powers and Duties
Sec. 4-101. City Council.
The City council is the City's legislative body. It has the powers and duties provided by law or this Charter.
Sec. 4-102. Meetings.
The City council shall hold its first (1st) meeting in the first (1st) week of January after the regular City general election and, during ten (10) months of the year, shall meet every business day unless otherwise provided by resolution at such times and places as it may provide.
On at least eight (8) occasions during each calendar year, the City council shall hold meetings in the areas of the City, to be determined by the City council. Those meetings shall begin between the hours of seven (7) o' clock PM and eight (8) o' clock PM.
Special meetings may be held at the call of the mayor or four (4) or more City council members and, whenever practicable, upon no less than twenty-four (24) hours notice to each member and to the public.
All business, which the City council may perform, shall be conducted at a public meeting held in compliance with the opening meetings act, 1976 P.A.267, MCL. 15.26 1 et. seq; MSA 4. 1800 et. seq.
Sec. 4-103. Selection of Council President.
The member of the City council receiving the highest number of votes at the regular City general election shall be president of the City council for the ensuing four (4) year term, and the member of the City council receiving the next highest number of votes at such election shall be president pro tempore of the City council; and in the absence for any reason of the president and president pro tempore of the City council, or in case either of such officers shall become vacant for any reason, the member of the City council who received the next highest number of votes at such election to such absentee or to the person who held such vacated office, shall be the president or president pro tempore of the City council, as the circumstances of the case may require.
Sec. 4-104. Duties of the Council President.
The president of the City council shall preside at all regular session meetings of the City council. The president shall have administrative responsibility on behalf of the City council.
The City council shall provide in its rules for the duties and responsibilities of the council president.
Sec. 4-105. Rules and Journal.
The City council shall determine its own rules and order of business and shall provide for keeping a journal of its proceedings in the English language. The journal shall be a public record.
Sec. 4-106. Standing Committee Structure.
The City council shall provide for a standing committee structure by its rules, which committees may include, but not be limited to the following areas:
- Budget and Finance;
- Neighborhood and Community Services;
- Human Resources;
- Law and Public Safety;
- Planning and Economic Development; and
- Such committees as it deems necessary.
The president of the council shall appoint the chairpersons of such standing committees, with the approval of a majority of the City council. However, the number of committees and the number of members per committee may be set by the City council. Only members of committees may vote on matters before the committee. The president shall be an ex-officio member of all committees, but shall be a voting member only as provided for any other council person.
Sec. 4-107. Quorum.
A majority of City council members serving constitutes a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from time to time and may compel attendance of absent members in the manner and subject to the penalties provided by rule of the City council.
Sec. 4-108. Voting.
Except as otherwise provided by this Charter, no action of the City council shall be effective unless adopted by at least a majority of City council members present.
Every City council member present shall vote on all questions, except as provided by state law, a City council member must promptly disclose any pecuniary interest in a contract which the City council has the power to approve, and no City council member may vote upon any matter related to the approval of the contract in which the City council member has a pecuniary interest.
On all ordinances, and in all other matters on the demand of one (1) or more members of the City council, the yeas and nays shall be taken and entered in its journal.
Sec. 4-109. Investigation.
The City council may make any investigations into the affairs of the City and the conduct of any City agency.
Sec. 4-110. Investigative Powers.
The City council may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence in any matter pending before it of any of its committees. To enforce a subpoena or order, the City council shall apply to the appropriate court.
Sec. 4-111. Council Clerk.
The City clerk shall serve as the City council's clerk and shall keep a record of all its ordinances, resolutions, and other proceedings and perform such other duties as it may provide.
Sec. 4-112. Control of Property.
Except as otherwise provided by this Charter, the City may not sell or in any way dispose of any property without approval by resolution of the City council.
The City council shall adopt an ordinance within one-hundred and eighty (180) days after the effective date of this Charter to provide for the acceptance of gifts or real and personal property and services to the City of Detroit.
Sec. 4-113. Prohibition on Interference in Administration.
Except for purposes of inquiries and investigations, the City council or its members shall deal with City officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the mayor solely through the mayor, and neither the City council nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.
Sec. 4-114. City Action Requiring an Ordinance.
In addition to other acts required by law or by specific provision of this Charter to be done by ordinance, those acts of the City shall be by ordinance which:
- Provide a penalty or establish a rule or regulation for violation of which a penalty is imposed;
- Provide for the laying and collecting of rents, tolls, excises and taxes, except as otherwise provided in section 8-209 of this Charter concerning property taxes levied by the budget; or
- Amend or repeal any ordinance previously adopted.
Other acts may be done either by ordinance or resolution.
Sec. 4-115. Ordinance Procedure.
1. Every proposed ordinance shall be introduced in writing. No ordinance may contain more than one (1) subject, and the ordinances title must clearly express this subject. The enacting clause shall be "It is hereby ordained by the people of the City of Detroit..."
Any ordinance which repeals or amends an existing ordinance or part of the City Code shall set out in full the ordinance, sections, or subsections to be repealed or amended, and shall clearly indicate matter to be omitted and new matter to be added.
2. Upon the introduction of any ordinance, the City clerk shall distribute a copy to each City council member and to the mayor, shall file a reasonable number of copies in the office of the City clerk and such other public places as the City council may designate, and shall publish a summary of the proposed ordinance in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the City together with a notice setting out the time and place for a public hearing thereon and for its consideration by the City council.
The public hearing may not be held sooner than five (5) days after the publication. The public hearing may be held separately or with a regular or special City council meeting and may be adjourned from time to time. All interested persons shall have an opportunity to be heard.
As soon as practicable after enactment of any ordinance, the City clerk shall have it published in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the City together with a notice of its adoption.
3. Except as otherwise provided in this Charter, every ordinance shall become effective on the thirtieth (30th) day after enactment or at any later date specified therein.
Sec. 4-116. Immediate Effect.
A two-thirds (2/3) majority of City council members serving may give immediate effect to any ordinance.
An ordinance given immediate effect shall become effective upon publication or at any later date specified therein.
Sec. 4-117. Emergency Ordinance.
To meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property or the public peace, one (1) or more emergency ordinances may be enacted. However, an emergency ordinance may not levy taxes; grant, renew or extend a franchise; or regulate the rate charged by any public utility for its service.
An emergency ordinance shall be introduced in the form and manner required for ordinances generally, except that it shall contain, after the enacting clause, a declaration stating that an emergency exists and describing it in clear and specific terms.
An emergency ordinance may be adopted and given immediate effect at the meeting at which it is introduced by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of City council members present.
An emergency ordinance shall become effective upon publication or at any later date specified therein.
Every emergency ordinance is automatically repealed on the sixty-first (61st) day after its enactment, unless re-enacted as an emergency ordinance.
Sec. 4-118. Ordinances and Resolutions After Adoption.
1. The City clerk shall authenticate by signature and record all ordinances and resolutions in a properly indexed book kept for the purpose.
2. Within three (3) years after the effective date of this Charter and at least every ten (10) years thereafter, the City council shall provide for the preparation of a general codification of all City ordinances and resolutions having the effect of law.
The general codification shall be enacted by ordinance and shall be published promptly in bound or loose-leaf form, together with this Charter and any amendments thereto, pertinent provisions of the Constitution and other laws of Michigan, and other rules and regulations which the City council may specify. This compilation shall be known as the Detroit City Code.
Copies of the Code shall be furnished to City officers, placed in libraries and public offices for free public reference, and made available for purchase by the public at a reasonable price fixed by the City council.
3. Each ordinance and resolution having the effect of law and each amendment to this Charter, shall be printed promptly after enactment, and the printed ordinances, resolutions and Charter amendments shall be distributed or sold to the public at reasonable prices to be fixed by the City council.
After publication of the first (1st) Detroit City Code, the ordinances, resolutions, and Charter amendments shall be printed in a form for integration with the Code currently in effect.
Sec. 4-119. Veto.
Every ordinance or resolution of the City council, except quasi-judicial acts of the City council including any under section 9-302, appointments by the City council or action taken under section 2-107(2-3), 4-102, 4-105, 4-108, 4-109, 4-120, 4-121, 7-1006, or 12-110 of this Charter, shall be presented by the City clerk to the mayor within four (4) business days after adjournment of the meeting at which the ordinance or resolution is adopted.
The mayor, within seven (7) days of receipt of an ordinance or resolution, shall return it to the City clerk with, or without approval, or with a veto and a written statement explaining the veto. However, with respect to an emergency ordinance, the mayor shall notify the City clerk of a veto in any reasonable manner within twenty-four (24) hours after the mayor's office received written notice from the City clerk that the emergency ordinance has been adopted.
An ordinance approved by the mayor shall be deemed enacted thereupon. An ordinance returned to the City clerk neither approved nor vetoed by the mayor shall be deemed enacted upon receipt by the City clerk. The mayor shall return any resolution neither approved nor vetoed to the City clerk with a written statement explaining the reason the resolution was neither approved nor vetoed. An ordinance or resolution not returned to the City clerk within seven (7) days of receipt by the mayor shall be deemed enacted upon expiration of the seven (7) day period; however, with respect to an emergency ordinance, should the mayor fail to notify the City clerk of a veto within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt by the mayor's office of notice that the ordinance has been adopted, the ordinance shall be deemed enacted upon expiration of the twenty-four (24) hour period.
An ordinance or resolution vetoes by the mayor can be reconsidered by the City council only at a regular meeting within one (1) week after receipt of the mayor's veto. A two-thirds (2/3) majority of City council members serving may pass the ordinance or resolution over the mayor's veto.
Sec. 4-120. Council Personnel.
The City council may appoint a staff, exempt from article 6, chapter 5 of this Charter.
Sec. 4-121. Special Counsel.
The City council may obtain the opinion or advice of an outside attorney in any matter pending before it. Where there exists a conflict of interest between the City council and another branch of government, the City council has the authority to retain an attorney licensed to practice law in Michigan who shall represent the City council in legal proceedings. Such attorney shall not represent the City as a municipal corporation in any legal proceeding.
The City may not purchase or in any way procure property of the services of independent contractors without approval by resolution of the City council except as provided by ordinance.