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Looking for information, Detroit Council subpoenas Mayor Bing

The Detroit City Council wants information from Mayor Dave Bing, and they say issuing a subpoena is the only way to get it.

The Council voted Wednesday to issue the subpoena.

Council member Saunteel Jenkin said it came to this because Bing has ignored repeated requests for documents.

“And this isn’t just [a case of] we asked last week, and we didn’t get it this week,” Jenkins said.

We’ve been asking for months and months and months. Council felt that we’ve been backed into a corner, and that the only way that we can get the information we need is through subpoena.”

The Council wants to see a new executive organization plan, “which is required by charter any time there is elimination or change of a department,” Jenkins said.

Per Detroit’s consent agreement with the state, Bing has moved ahead with plans to spin off some the city’s major grant-funded departments, including the Health Department.

Council members also want information about outside law firms the city is using, and changes to the Detroit Department of Transportation.

The Council also wants a facilitator to help the two branches of government communicate.

Asked if the move marks a growing “rift” between the Mayor and Council, Jenkins said, “I don’t know what to call it. We’re asking for information in order to do our jobs appropriately, and we’re consistently not getting what we’re asking for.”

That could hurt Bing when he brings a proposal to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park before Council. It’s not yet clear when that’s slate to happen.

Some Council members, including Jenkins, said they know little about the plan—but they would need more details than have been released thus far to sign off.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public 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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