FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Voters in Detroit will have the opportunity to approve or reject a proposed new city charter on August 3. Citizens Research Council of Michigan is pleased to announce publication of its description and analysis of the proposed charter.
City charters establish the basic structure of the municipal government and define critical processes of elections, budgeting, accounting, and planning, within constraints established in state law. Charters may also mandate city departments and programs. The challenge inherent in charter development is achieving the proper balance between the relatively permanent charter mandates and the latitude needed by local officials to make government efficient, effective, and responsive under changing conditions.
“Analysis of the proposed charter extends the Research Council’s tradition of analyzing significant initiatives and referenda to help voters make informed votes,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “Placing this proposal before Detroit voters happened to coincide with opening of the Research Council’s Detroit Bureau but is consistent with past patterns of analyzing the 1974, 1997, and 2012 charter revisions.”
The proposed charter is the culmination of three years of work by the Detroit Charter Revision Commission convened in 2018.
If Proposal P is Adopted the new charter would go into effect to create new departments and advisory commissions, shift the balance of power between the mayor’s office and the legislative branch, and create new responsibilities for the city.
If Proposal P is Rejected the current charter will remain in effect. The question of convening a new charter commission would automatically appear on the 2034 ballot. Residents and city leaders could introduce amendments to address changes submitted in the proposed charter.
Major Issues to Consider: Beyond proposing some changes to the organizational structure of city government and altering the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, the proposed charter endeavors to improve quality-of-life issues by ensuring increased representation and equity for Detroit residents; increasing access to city services and programs; and including strategies to increase citizen involvement and government transparency through an equitable development framework. These efforts are likely to affect the efficiency of city government operations and come with a financial cost.
“The proposed charter addresses the lack of trust many Detroit residents have with government and public officials,” said Esmat Ishag-Osman, Research Associate in the Research Council’s Detroit Bureau. “Many Detroiters have felt let down by the system and as a result have grown a pessimistic view of government and what it can do to improve their quality of life. The proposed charter is responsive to this mistrust in government.”
Note that the qualification of Proposal P for the ballot is still not settled. After lower courts disqualified the question because the Charter Revision Commission failed to meet deadlines established in state law, the Michigan Supreme Court halted that decision and has scheduled a hearing for July 7.
A detailed analysis of Proposal P can be downloaded at crcmich.org/detroit-bureau.
Founded in 1916, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan works to improve government in Michigan. The organization provides factual, unbiased, independent information concerning significant issues of state and local government organization, policy, and finance. By delivery of this information to policymakers and citizens, the Research Council aims to ensure sound and rational public policy formation in Michigan. For more information, visit www.crcmich.org.