People get married at city hall; Mayor Dave Bing, City Council almost meet
In every journalism class taught anywhere on the planet, the first lesson learned is to put the most important news first. So let’s start here: About a half dozen couples and their families waited eagerly for the weekly Friday afternoon civil wedding ceremonies in the Erma Henderson Auditorium at Detroit’s Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.
This must have been the most important event to take place on the 13th floor of Detroit’s city hall today because, while the wedding group filled maybe 10% of the auditorium’s seating, it was the event that commanded the biggest room.
Meanwhile at the same time, across the hall in the smaller Dr. Strangelove War Room-like “Committee of the Whole” space, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was to ask City Council to remove Corporation Counsel Krysal Crittendon from her position.
It’s only a Watergate-like constitutional crisis facing the city.
Oh, did I bury the lede? My bad.
Arriving at 1:45 to witness the showdown between Bing and Council over the city attorney, who unilaterally attempted to scuttle Detroit’s consent agreement in an Ingham County court, meant arriving too late for to enter the at-capacity room. Already between 20-50 (people flowed in and out so it’s hard to put a hard number on it) waited in the hall. That number included myself and two other reporters, including one trying to cover it for a national newsmagazine. All arrived well before the meeting's scheduled start.
Normally, when there is an overflow crowd, people can watch a televised feed of the proceedings from the Council reception room. Not today. The receptionist didn’t want the inconvenience. You can understand that. People like to keep it simple on a Friday afternoon and coast into the weekend.
It’s worth noting that where Council meets is entirely at the discretion of City Council President Charles Pugh. Apparently, he just prefers the smaller room. Perhaps it’s slimming. Charles Pugh didn’t just lose all that weight to sit in a room that makes him look fat!
Inside the Strangelove room, Bing waited patiently through public comment. Then the meeting went into recess because Bing had to step out for an unexpected conference call.
As of right now, the 2:00 PM special session where the mayor was to request Council remove a Corporation Counsel he says has gone rogue still hasn’t heard from the mayor. UPDATE: It will not resume. Bing delivered a written copy of his remarks and later told reporters Council has created a "sideshow" that he would not waste time dealing with.
If this absurd subversion-of-the-spirit-of-the-Open-Meetings-Act spectacle is what democracy looks like in Detroit, screw it. Bring on the emergency manager.
People who can’t organize a public meeting capable of accommodating the public aren’t likely to fix a balance sheet as tangled as Detroit’s.