Krystal Crittendon, Detroit Corporation Counsel: 'It's time for me to speak out'
November 18th, 2012, 10:59 AM
The head of Detroit's Law department, Krystal Crittendon, is pushing back against months of hard shots she sees as unfair.
Her job as corporation counsel, she tells the Detroit Free Press, is ""to do what's in the best interests of the city, without fear of retribution."
In the rare interview with Matt Helms, Crittendon scoffs at claims that she has single-handed power to scuttle the city's efforts to fix itself.
"When I . . . heard them talking about me on the radio, saying that I was about to bankrupt the state of Michigan -- as though a corporation counsel in the city of Detroit had the authority to do that -- I did think it's time for me to speak out."
The city charter empowers the 49-year-old northwest Detroiter to take legal action challenging potential violations of that governing document. As Helms explains:
That's what she did when Detroit's elected officials agreed -- under the threat of the state appointing an emergency manager -- to state oversight of its finances last April. She called the resulting fiscal stability agreement a charter violation and "void and unenforceable." She asked a judge to decide whether it was legal. . . .
Now, Crittendon is back in the thick of it.
She met in a closed-door session Thursday [Nov. 15] with the City Council to discuss her new legal opinion on how Detroit should proceed with its consent agreement now that the state's emergency manager law and the chief weapon behind it -- the right of the state to impose an emergency manager who could strip elected officials' authority and gut union contracts -- has been tossed out by voters.
Under a charter amendment passed Nov. 6 as Proposal C, Crittendon can't be fired by the mayor without the council's approval, or vice versa -- a level of independence she says is appropriate.
"Forgetting that I'm in this seat, as a resident, it's reassuring to know that the city's corporation counsel is going to be free to make those types of decisions."