Detroit citizens speak out on EFM at community meeting

Detroit citizens speak out on EFM at community meeting

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"You allowed this to happen," a resident said as she pointed her fingers at council members.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) "You allowed this to happen," a resident said as she pointed her fingers at council members. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

We're days away from having an emergency financial manager on the job in Detroit.  Tuesday, some citizens spoke out on the controversial measure.

Their power will soon be in question, but until next week it is business as usual for Detroit City Council members, who hosted a community meeting at Greater Baptist Community Church.

However, instead of addressing concerns about issues in the east side community, members found themselves on the defense as residents peppered them with questions and comments about why they couldn't keep an emergency financial manager away.

Here is a sampling of what residents had to say:

"All of you seemed so passive waiting to get roasted by the governor.... We're not going to roll over."

"Those of us... in the City of Detroit, we want to know the extreme of what's going to happen if there's a bankruptcy."

"There are lots of people that died to make sure that we had the right to vote."

"You allowed it to happen."

Council appealed the state takeover and lost.  Some have decided to work with the Washington-based bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr to put the city's financial problems behind them.

Although Orr arrives next week in time for the new emergency manager law to take effect, members Brenda Jones and JoAnn Watson have no intentions of throwing in the towel.

"No one has a right to take away the constitutional rights of people, and the people who vote in Detroit voted for us.  So what we need to do is stand up and fight something that is stripping our people of their constitutional rights.  Voting rights [are] under assault in this city," said Watson.

The question is how much power will council members have when the emergency manager can overrule the city charter and has complete control over the city's finances and operations.

"One man cannot run this city.  This is a complex city," said City Council President Charles Pugh.

He isn't worried.  He's convinced members will be able to keep their pay and prominent roles when it comes to running the city.

"He's going to be too busy to run the City of Detroit.  He's going to need the people who were elected to run the city to run the city while he uses his skill set, which is bankruptcy, debt restructuring," Pugh said.

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