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Detroit consent pact comment criticized

Dec. 6, 2011 at 5:30 PM

DETROIT, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Detroit City Council members Tuesday criticized a fellow council member's suggestion they were more interested in saving their jobs than preventing insolvency.

The criticism came in response to comments from Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, who said the city must enter a consent agreement with the state that would authorize the council and Mayor Dave Bing to make deep budget cuts and ultimately impose contracts on labor unions, The Detroit News reported.

The Detroit Free Press reported Brown had said: "There are too many decisions being made for political reasons. [Council members] are more worried about their jobs than the tools they could have under a consent agreement."

"I thought it was very disrespectful and unprofessional," Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said of Brown's comments. "I don't think anybody here is not serious about fixing the city. It's not about keeping a job."

Kenyatta said council members weren't seeking to protect their jobs but the rights of voters to keep their elected officials in office.

"A consent agreement is a slippery slope to an emergency manager (and) a takeover of the city," Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said. " Why would anybody in their right mind, who's been elected by the city, offer up the city on a silver platter to the governor and (state Treasurer) Andy Dillon?"

Brown said he stood by his recommendation the city should consider a consent agreement but did not intend it as an attack.

The agreement would give Bing more authority to make budget cuts without the need for an emergency manager. State officials were to begin a preliminary review Tuesday of the finances of the city, which faces a $45 million budget shortfall.

The review could result in appointment of a emergency manager.

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