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Attorney challenging emergency manager law condemns current proposal

DETROIT, MI–The nonprofit representing 28 Michigan citizens challenging the state’s emergency manager law issued a statement Tuesday condemning efforts by Governor Rick Snyder to install a replacement for elected officials.

The so-called consent agreement proposed by the Governor “abandons the rule of law,” said John Philo, Legal Director for the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice. “It is a transparent attempt to control Detroit’s fate whether an unconstitutional law remains in effect or not.”

In violation of the emergency manager law, Public Act 4, the proposed agreement would take effect without the approval of the Governor-appointed financial review board. Moreover, it allocates power over local government to positions never contemplated in the city’s charter, the current emergency manager law, or its predecessor.

“Either the Governor and the other key players here are getting atrocious legal advice or they’re ignoring good advice,” said Philo. “The Governor’s disregard for his own review process is a travesty–it shows contempt for judicial orders, the rule of law and democracy itself.”

A leader of one of the state’s key civil rights organizations shared Philo’s outrage. “What is the purpose of having democracy, the rule of law and courts if the leaders sworn to uphold those institutions are the very ones who act against them?” said Yvonne White, President of the Michigan NAACP State Conference.

Before the proposed consent agreement was released, Ingham County Judge William Collette had ordered Snyder’s Detroit financial review team to start from scratch and meet in public. PA-4 received another blow when more than 225,000 petition signatures were submitted February 29 to place repeal of the law on the November 2012 ballot.

The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice is serving as lead counsel for 28 Michigan citizens challenging the emergency manager law in court, on the basis that it violates the Michigan Constitution in several ways. Sugar Law is joined by attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights, The Sanders Law Firm, Miller Cohen PLC, and Goodman & Hurwitz PC on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild, Michigan chapter.

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