The Detroit City Council let out for its annual August recess with a bit of a bang and a whimper. Not that News Hits is surprised. It is no secret that the chasm between council members is as deep as the Detroit River. Much deeper, in fact. We’re talking the Marianas Trench here. Name-calling, threats and the occasional “come on” (short for, “let’s take it outside so I can beat your ass”) have become almost commonplace at the council table.
Just before council went on break, council member Kay Everett said it was “stupid” and “crazy” for council President Maryann Mahaffey to subpoena transportation department director Norman White to the table. Everett is generally opposed to everything Mahaffey proposes. Council members Sheila Cockrel and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi (who also are not big fans of Mahaffey) sided with Everett. They insisted White should not have been subpoenaed.
But Mahaffey said it was necessary since White allegedly ignored past requests — three in all — to come before the council and failed to adequately answer written questions about bus service and the recent layoff of more than 100 employees. Mahaffey also said that the majority of the council members voted to subpoena White.
When the elusive White did appear before council — with assistant city attorney Dara M. Chenevert in tow — he wasn’t exactly forthcoming. He laid out the parameters of what he would discuss — which amounted to very little. He also claimed that he was never personally served with the council’s subpoena. That’s when councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins, wasting no time, ordered one of her staffers to serve White with the papers while he sat at the table.
But Chenevert interceded and snatched the subpoena from White. Collins then attempted to grab it from Chenevert, but to no avail. After this bizarre game of snatch-and-grab, Chenevert advised White to leave the hearing, which they both did.
Chenevert would not tell News Hits why she told White to leave the council hearing. But she says he came there voluntarily and did not receive the subpoena until he was before the council.
“I think they were looking for a reason to leave,” says Mahaffey.
They can always try to get White back to the table in September when the council resumes and the fireworks continue.Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com