Detroit — A pair of activists who filed a last-minute federal lawsuit against the deal to bring the Detroit Pistons back to the Motor City officially dropped one suit Saturday, saying another pending against Detroit’s school board ultimately will decide whether voters should have a say in taxpayer-backed bonds being used on the Little Caesars Arena.
City Clerk candidate D. Etta Wilcoxon and Highland Park activist Robert Davis filed a motion in U.S. District Court Saturday to dismiss their suit against various city economic agencies and the City Council. But earlier this week they filed a suit against the board of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
The pair has argued $34.5 million in taxpayer-funded bonds to make modifications to the arena shouldn’t be used without voter approval. Detroit’s City Council approved the bonds by a 7-2 vote in June.
The pair wants to allow city and Wayne County voters to decide in November whether tax money should be used to help pay for changes at Little Caesars Arena.
Davis and Wilcoxon contend the tax revenues are intended for public school students and Wayne County parks.
Davis on Saturday told The News that the suit filed in early June against the Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was dismissed without prejudice because the plaintiffs believe the Detroit schools lawsuit is going to decide the issue of whether the measure should be in the hands of voters.
In an emailed statement, Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell praised the dismissal.
“The city is very pleased to have prevailed,” Hollowell wrote in an email Saturday. “We are looking forward to the Pistons coming to Detroit.”
But Davis said the city and DDA haven’t won, and the matter isn’t over.
“We voluntarily agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice because of the pending DPS case that’s going to ultimately decide the right to vote issue,” Davis said. “Any claims that we agreed to voluntarily dismiss that are not adjudicated and ruled upon in the DPS case will be brought back in a subsequent lawsuit, if need be.”
Davis said the federal lawsuit filed Thursday against the Detroit Public Schools Community District should determine whether the school board needs to put the measure on the ballot. The revised school code requires a vote if using tax revenue generated for a school millage for a different purpose, he contends.
The Pistons aim to play next season at the new Little Caesars Arena on the northern edge of downtown Detroit.