Dennis Archer Speaks Against Proposed Detroit City Charter

Dennis Archer spoke during a press conference in Downtown Detroit Wednesday, June 23 about how he wants Detroit residents to vote “no” on Proposal P, a vote against Detroit City Charter recommendations, on Tuesday, August 3.

Photo by Sherri Kolade




Dennis Archer, former mayor of the City of Detroit, isn’t writing off the controversial Detroit City Charter Commission’s recommendations, or how some of its ideas could benefit residents in desperate need of basic resources like water and internet access.

But the attorney and respected businessman is against the Charter Commission’s recommendations and told residents to vote “no” on Proposal P come Tuesday, August 3.

“We can use this moment to help people in need,” Archer said during a press conference Wednesday, June 23 at 500 Woodward Ave. in Detroit of finding alternatives to the Commission’s recommendations that he and city officials said, would not bankrupt the city.

The charter commission is responsible for reviewing and proposing revisions within a three-year timeframe, according to city documents. The commission submitted its draft revised charter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Mar 5 and per state law, the governor must approve a proposed city charter before it can be placed on the local ballot, according to the city document. The commission seeks to place the revised charter on the August 3 ballot. The commission dissolves on August 6.

Detroit Charter Revision Commission Chair Carol Weaver said in a June statement to the Michigan Chronicle another side to the story.

“Both Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel agree that the Governor has absolutely no power to prevent a revised charter from being considered by Detroit voters. This fact was made very clear in the Governor’s April 30, 2021 letter to the Commission,” she said in her emailed statement.

Per state law, the city must submit a balanced four-year plan to the Financial Review Commission (FRC) and request a waiver every year.

The Draft Revised Charter would cost $2 billion over four years by “imposing 65 provisions with new mandates that increase expenses or reduce revenues” per the city document. “There are no provisions that would reduce expenses or grow revenues. If the Draft Revised Charter is approved in August, the FY22-25 Four-Year Financial Plan will no longer be balanced.”

Archer described the recommendations as an “imminent fiscal crisis” that would put the city back in debt and would stall the growth of the already-burgeoning business sector.

Archer put a call out to corporations, foundations, and CEOs to come together like during the pandemic when over 50,000 Detroit students received free laptops. This time, he wants them to come together and find solutions to the problems attempted to be solved through Proposal P.

When asked if he has spoken to Charter Commission members about his ideas, Archer told the Michigan Chronicle after the press conference that he has not talked to the members, but he feels that, respectfully, decisions can’t be made in silos without consulting other groups in the city to see how they might be impacted by the proposed charter changes. He added that while he understands Detroiters are hurting and the Commissioners are trying to find solutions, their proposals are not the right way.

“I know what it is like to have no running water,” he said of his younger days, adding that the commissioners did the noble work to try to find solutions, but these are costly ideas.

During a Michigan Chronicle News Now segment with Digital Anchor Andre Ash on Tuesday, June 22 at the Real Times Media (RTM) Studio 145, he spoke to Charter Commissioner Nicole Small and others about the charter.

Small said that one hot-button issue, in particular, in the charter revision is on a water affordability plan (based on income and not giving away free water), which will generate over $30 million for Detroit, which she said, “you never hear anyone talk about.”

“It would bring jobs to Detroiters — isn’t that what we always hear from City Council?” Small said of job opportunities.

Archer reiterated that he does not take lightly the hard work that the commissioners did when they developed the revised charter, but the proposal “did not consider what the cost would be.”

“There is a lot of room for us to have a great city,” Archer said, adding that the support of corporate entities, foundations and CEOs could help in a major way. “We need everybody’s support.”

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