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Detroit activists rally in support of putting Proposal P on the primary ballot

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Beenish Ahmed
/
Michigan Radio

A group of Detroit activists rallied in support of a charter revision plan aimed at addressing several pernicious issues in the city — from water shutoffs to broadband access. 

The proposed charter revision — known as Proposal P — faces a legal challenge that has risen to the Michigan Supreme Court. Oral arguments in a lawsuit charging that the Charter Commission did not follow proper procedure before seeking a vote on the measure were heard on Wednesday. 

The Detroit residents who filed the lawsuits contend that Proposal P should not be put on the ballot in the August 3 primary election because it did not get approval from the governor. Governor Gretchen Whitmer cited “substantial and extensive legal deficiencies” in a draft of the charter revision in an April 30 letter explaining her refusal to approve the Proposal. Whether or not her approval is required for Proposal P to see a vote is a key question before the state high court.   

Activists who rallied in support of the measure on Thursday likened the legal challenge to a voting rights concern. 

“We strongly oppose any politician saying that something that's the property of the voters will be taken off the ballot,” said Russ Bellant, the president of a neighborhood association called We Care About Van Dyke/7 Mile, Inc. an organization that filed an amicus brief in support of the Charter Commission. “There's no elected official that should have the right to engineer a ballot.” 

But it’s not just procedural issues which have raised concerns among elected officials. Financial analysis by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration put the cost of the proposal at $2 billion over the course of four years — an amount that could trigger return to financial oversight for the city. 

But Bellant, a former city employee, said that the reforms laid out in Proposal would not automatically go into effect. “There's things in there that could cost money if the mayor and the City Council decide to spend money on it,” he said, adding that he thinks the $2 billion figure put forth by the Duggan administration to be a gross overestimate. 

The City of Detroit is printing ballots with Proposal P on them for the August 3rd primary. The ballots will be moot if the Michigan Supreme Court rules against the Charter Commission.

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