Detroit, MI – At first glance it may seem ironic that a Libertarian would create a governing body of any kind, but this one receives no tax revenue and makes no laws. It has no enforcement powers either. Instead it is designed to bring more transparency to city government and provide a platform from which citizens may voice their concerns about government actions.
Detroit is subdivided into seven districts. District Four will be the second of those districts to establish a Community Advisory Council (CAC). This is thanks to the effort of perennial Libertarian candidate and former state chair Scotty Boman. He spent his summer collecting 1,570 signatures on a petition to create a Community Advisory Council for Detroit’s fourth District. On October 4th the City Clerk confirmed that valid signatures exceeded the minimum threshold of 1,141 signatures, so the petitions were approved.
Boman, filed the petitions on Tuesday October 1st following a brief news conference with Detroit’s Fourth District Councilman Andre Spivey. Spivey and Boman met up at 9:30 AM to answer questions at the Coleman A. Young Center, then walked the petitions down to the City Clerk’s office. According to the Detroit City Charter, “The purpose of these Councils is to improve citizen access to city government.” And “The City Council member elected from the non at-large district in which a Community Advisory Council resides, or their designee, shall attend all official meetings of that Community Advisory Council.” Spivey and Boman also addressed the topic in the citizen comment portion of the Detroit City Council meeting which was held on the same day.
Boman commented, “In the course of circulating petitions to constituents I found that one of the most popular provisions was that a CAC may require that the City Council representative receive prior consultation from the Community Advisory Council on all issues which relate exclusively to that district. This makes the City Council more transparent and helps residents to become better informed about what their local government is doing. In some respects it’s a watchdog group of the City Council.
Boman made it clear that the CAC won’t get a dime of tax money. “Some people were concerned that creating an organization with seven office holders would strain the city’s limited budget at a time when many retirees continue to suffer from lost benefits in the wake Detroit’s bankruptcy. I wouldn’t have undertaken this effort if it would add an additional burden on taxpayers. The Charter is clear on this. It says, ‘Community Advisory Councils shall receive no appropriations from city funds, but may accept donations or grants in accordance with state, federal or local law.’”
One thing that may interest Libertarians about the CAC is that it is the only governing body in Detroit to have a seat reserved for a person under 18. The Libertarian Party has no minimum age for delegates or officers and a 14 year old delegate almost became national chair in 1993.
According to the Charter,
“Each Community Advisory Council shall consist of five (5) members elected from a single non at-large district, who shall be residents and qualified and registered voters of the district; one (1) youth member between the ages of thirteen (13) and seventeen (17); and one (1) member selected as a representative for senior issues.
The five elected members of the Fourth District Community Advisory Council will be chosen in the 2020 General election.