Cushingberry (Bryan Mitchell)
Detroit — City Council got caught up in a procedural debate Tuesday and rejected a proposal by its new second in command that the panel take action on agenda line items instead of sending them to committees for review.
The request by Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr., a former state legislator, seemed to catch most council members by surprise.
“I’m trying to act and to act quickly,” said Cushingberry, who on Monday remarked the council has been “dysfunctional” during the past four years.
“Some contracts can be approved pronto. I’d like to get to the meat of it,” Cushingberry explained to his new colleagues. “Those (items) we can act on, we should act on.”
After nearly 40 minutes of discussion, the council voted 7-2 against his proposal. Cushingberry and new member Gabe Leland voted yes, while Council President Brenda Jones — who forged a deal with Cushingberry to gain council leadership positions — voted against.
Before the vote, council members including former President Saunteel Jenkins, ex-Council President Pro Tem Andre Spivey and James Tate objected to the move.
“I’m not a big fan of stuff being dropped at the table. It would behoove us to speak with colleagues,” Tate said.
Jenkins said most council members had not heard of Cushingberry’s suggestion before Tuesday.
“I am not prepared to vote on any of the items on the agenda today,” she told Cushingberry.
Cushingberry also stressed Tuesday the urgency of nailing down Mayor Mike Duggan’s appointment of Melvin Butch Hollowell as corporation counsel.
In addition, the panel should finalize the new appointments to the state-created Public Lighting Authority and of the council’s staff, he said.
The council plans to interview Hollowell today and candidates for the state-created Public Lighting Authority and Detroit Land Bank on Friday.
On Monday, the council voted 5-4 to elect Jones and Cushingberry for the council’s leadership roles. The two voted for each other and themselves and also were supported by new members Scott Benson, Mary Sheffield and Leland. Jenkins, Spivey, Tate and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez voted for Jenkins and Spivey to hold the top offices.
Also Tuesday, the council named members to its committees for two-year terms:
■ Public Health and Safety: Chairman Benson, Vice Chair Jenkins and member Castaneda-Lopez.
■ Planning and Economic Development: Chairman Leland, Vice Chair Benson and member Sheffield.
■ Neighborhood and Community Services: Chairwoman Sheffield, Vice Chair Tate and member Castaneda-Lopez.
■ Internal Operations: Chairman Spivey, Vice Chair Cushingberry and member Jenkins.
■ Budget, Finance and Audit: Chairman Cushingberry, Vice Chair Castaneda-Lopez and member Leland.
■ Rules: Chairman Cushingberry, Vice Chair Leland and member Jenkins.