Hackel excluded from courtroom
Talks are scheduled to be underway to potentially dissolve
the city of Highland Park in order to pay debts
to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
while also forming a new regional water authority
in southeast Michigan.
Reports have surfaced of a meeting set for June 1
in the chambers of U.S. District Court.
Judge Sean Cox has reportedly arranged the closed-door meeting
to discuss the option, but apparently
did not invite Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
“That was just shocking to me because I’m critical
to the process and very vocal about it,” Hackel said.
“This is regional participants having regional discussions,
not secret meetings.
That’s what used to happen with the history and things
that happened in the city of Detroit that got us
to the problem that we’re at today.
“I thought that would’ve ended, but apparently now
there’s some kind of a meeting taking place
that I’m not invited to,” Hackel said.
Among those who have been invited by the judge
are Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
“The reason Mark was not invited was not
for any nefarious reason,” Patterson said.
“The reason was that Mark made it very clear
that he’s not going along with the program,
that he is a ‘no’ vote.
I’m guessing here now that the judge said,
‘well why include Mark if he’s already taken himself out of the debate?’”
Key to the discussion is who will pay the
city of Highland Park’s $26 million debt
owed to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
Hackel said that he fears an attempt will be made
to have Highland Park’s debt transferred to regional rate payers.
“It’s a challenge, adding to the complexity of this deal moving forward,” Hackel said.