Democracy Watch: Lawsuit Underscores Racial, Political Concerns Raised by State Plan for DPS
Although it has received scant media attention, a lawsuit filed in late June by members of Detroit’s school board, activists and parents could undo the controversial education system Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Legislature have created for the city.
Wayne County's Tax Foreclosure Crisis Explained
ACLU of Michigan legal director Michael J. Steinberg explains Wayne County's tax foreclosure crisis.
ACLU, NAACP LDF Sue Wayne County to End Racially Discriminatory Tax Foreclosures in Detroit
DETROIT—The ACLU of Michigan, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and lawyers from Covington & Burling LLP today filed a class-action lawsuit against the Wayne County Treasurer, Wayne County and the City of Detroit to challenge illegal, racially discriminatory tax foreclosures that have pummeled African-American homeowners in recent years.
MorningSide v. Sabree: Fixing Detroit's Tax Foreclosure Crisis
African Americans in Wayne County are suffering from a tax foreclosure crisis more severe than any this region has seen since the Great Depression. But unlike the Great Depression, the homeowners today are at risk of losing their homes for taxes they never should have been required to pay in the first place.
The ACLU of Michigan, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and lawyers from Covington & Burling LLP filed a class-action lawsuit against the Wayne County Treasurer, Wayne County and the City of Detroit on July 13, 2016 to challenge illegal, racially discriminatory tax foreclosures that have pummeled African-American homeowners in recent years.
Named plaintiffs in the suit are homeowners Walter Hicks, Julia Aikens, Dewhannea Fox, Edward Knapp, Robert Lewis, DeAunna Black and Spirlin Moore. The Historic Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association, the MorningSide Community Organization, the Oakman Boulevard Community Association and Neighbors Building Brightmoor are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in Third Circuit Court in Wayne County.
Read more about the plaintiffs below.
The City of Detroit had the wrong man, and Walter Hicks knew it.
In 2014, the 57-year-old Hicks, a disabled Detroit homeowner who lives off of barely more than $15,000 a year in social-services benefits, went to the city municipal building to apply for a poverty exemption from his property tax bill. Although an appraisal of the fair-market value of the home estimated it to be worth about $9,000, an overinflated assessment by the City of Detroit in 2013 had bloated the supposed cash value of Hicks' home—to more than $40,000.
As a result of the $31,000 over-assessment, Hicks' tax bill stood at more than $1,600.
Democracy Watch: The 'New' Detroit Public Schools is Separate, Unequal
If, as expected, the Detroit Public Schools legislation recently passed by the Michigan House and Senate is signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, the hijacking of democracy that has been underway since the district was taken over by the state in 2009 will continue with no foreseeable end in sight.
Some might claim that can't be true, pointing to the fact that the new law allows Detroiters to vote for a new school board.
Democracy Watch: Charting New Ground in Flint
Anyone at all familiar with Michigan’s emergency manager law knows that the people handed control of municipalities and school districts facing financial crises have extraordinary power.
Democracy Watch: Detroit’s Big Maybe
What can be said with absolute certainty about the so-called plan of adjustment Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr released last week?
It is a plan built on a mountain of ifs.
Democracy Watch: Detroit’s Bankruptcy and Barn Doors
There’s an old adage that alludes to the futility of shutting barn doors once the horses have fled. With that bit of folk wisdom in mind, it’s worth pointing out that there is a certain runaway horse aspect to the state of Michigan’s emergency manager law and the various legal actions that are trying to shut it down.
Swaps, COPs, Lingering Questions in Detroit Bankruptcy
In 2005, the city of Detroit faced a monumental dilemma: It desperately needed to borrow more than $1.4 billion to help shore up its two pension systems, but doing so would far exceed the legal limit on the amount of debt it could amass.