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Detroit EM axes council head, union pacts, agency

David n. Goodman, Associated Press

FILE - In this June 10, 2013 file photo, Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr addresses attendees of a public informational meeting at Wayne State University's Law School in Detroit. On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, Orr announced he was moving forward with plans to strip Dteroit City Council President Charles Pugh’s pay and authority for failing to show up for work. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Elizabeth Conley, File) DETROIT FREE PRESS OUT; HUFFINGTON POST OUT

DETROIT (AP) -- Detroit's emergency manager took a series of decisive steps Thursday, telling unions he's canceling their contracts, ousting City Council President Charles Pugh for skipping work and outsourcing the failing public lighting department.

Contracts for the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 25 and the Detroit Police Lieutenants & Sergeants Association will end when they expire in the coming weeks, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

AFSCME Council 25 is the city's largest union. Union spokesman Ed McNeil said Thursday morning that he hadn't seen a notification from Orr's office and the union hasn't met with Orr since he was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in March.

Police union President Mark Young said he doesn't know what benefits members will get after the contract expires July 6.

Nowling said in a statement that the move was "an administrative requirement" of the collective bargaining agreements and said it doesn't change the workers' pay or benefits. He said no decision has been made about imposing any changes in employees' pay, benefits or working conditions.

Orr also signed an order Thursday stripping the pay and authority from City Council President Charles Pugh, who has been absent from City Hall for undisclosed reasons. He's also been a no-show at recent council meetings and failed to acknowledge by a 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline that he would be returning to work.

Nowling said the order takes effect July 7. Pugh earns about $76,000 per year.

In his order, Orr said he "has determined that Council President Pugh has failed to fulfill his obligations and duties as a member and president of the City Council."

Pugh also is the subject of a complaint the Detroit Public Schools received from the mother of a recent graduate who says the councilman had improper contacts with her teenage son.

Pugh didn't immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

Orr also will phase out Detroit's chronically unreliable power and lighting department and switching service to DTE Energy.

Nowling said Orr "has requested DTE to cooperate with (the city's lighting department) to ensure that all current ... customers will be serviced by DTE" after the department ceases operations.

Nowling said it's expected to take five to seven years to complete the changeover.


Reporter David Runk contributed to this story.


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