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Detroit Council seeks restraining order against Bing

For the second time in as many weeks, the Detroit City Council is taking legal action to force the hand of Mayor Dave Bing.

During a Tuesday meeting, the Council voted to seek a temporary restraining order to stop proposed changes in the city’s health department.

Bing has proposed spinning that department—and several others funded almost entirely by federal grants—into non-profits. He says that’s an effective way to deal with those departments, which have historically been riddled with corruption and inefficiency.

But many Council members have said the move amounts to giving away free money, and questioned why the administration doesn’t just bring in better managers. Some also think the move violates the city charter.

Council member Brenda Jones warned the body should move quickly. “They are scheduled to have all the health department employees laid off as of September 28th,” Jones said. “They are moving forward.”

“We’re not going to violate the City Charter,” Bing responded in a statement. “The City Council approved the budget that removed the funding from the Department of Health and Wellness Promotion in June.

“My administration is transitioning the department to a non-profit agency to ensure our focus on providing core services for our citizens and make sure we improve the support services for Detroiters who need them.”

The Council also subpoenaed Bing last week, looking for documents Council members have been requesting for months. A Bing spokesman said the administration is complying.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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