(09/11/12) - Flint city council members are taking Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz to court. They filed a lawsuit Monday in circuit court in Genesee County.
They want to stop him from acting on the city's behalf, and restore power back to local officials.
They filed as individual plaintiffs, instead of as a body, to avoid future claims it didn't have the authority to seek legal action.
The council says that once the new emergency manager law was enacted, the old one - Public Act 72 - went off the books. Since that time, the EM law has been suspended and is up for a referendum in November. The State Attorney General issued an opinion that upon the suspension of Public Act 4 - PA 72 was revived.
The lawsuit is an effort to restore the council's full authority and stop Kurtz from acting on behalf of the city.
Attorney Glenn Cotton is working on the case for free.
"The reason why I'm doing this is because I'm a concerned citizen and I believe just the fact that the city council doesn't have any legal resources. I think it's a shame," Cotton said. "We want to make sure the law is followed and make sure that Flint has someone in governance in accordance with the law."
Judge Judith Fullerton is taking up the case. The suit calls for her to restore power back to elected officials.
That action, if taken, would put city council and mayor Dayne Walling back in charge until a hearing can be held to determine who's legally in control.
"The Supreme Court took PA 4, put it on the ballot to see whether people want that law or not. In the interim, PA 72 does not get resurrected unless the legislature resurrects it," Cotton said. "So the appointment of Mr. Kurtz as the EFM is under what law? That's what we are trying to seek clarification with the declaratory judgment, asking the judge, 'does the city council and mayor have authority based upon the fact PA 72 is no longer on the books?'"
Judge Fullerton's husband, Ward Chapman, is the former corporate counsel for Genesee County - and former EM Mike Brown hired him to work for the city under a personal services contract. He's still there under Ed Kurtz.
The Flint Area Chamber of Commerce has provided some financial assistance with the case.
City councilman Sheldon Neeley says he and his colleagues took this latest step because they want to protect the citizens.
"That's what this is about, making sure the residents have due process," he said. "We need to protect the residents of Flint, and its assets. Right now, they're trying to move more public assets into private hands, so right now we need to take evasive action to make sure that doesn't happen."
Glenn Cotton, who is representing council members, is also running for a judge's seat in Flint's 68th District Court.
City attorney Pete Bade says it's his practice to not comment on pending litigation.
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