DETROIT (AP) — State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr has ordered his legal staff to prepare an order that will strip the pay and authority from AWOL Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.
Pugh has 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, Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said.
Orr will review the completed order and could sign it Thursday, Nowling said.
Orr is operating under Michigan’s emergency manager law. He can’t fire Detroit elected leaders, but does control their pay and responsibilities. Pugh earns about $76,000 per year.
His request for a three- to four-week medical leave was denied earlier this week by Orr.
The City Council’s powers have been reduced since Orr was hired in March to fix a budget deficit barreling toward $380 million and about $17 billion in city debt. He has control over all matters involving money.
The Associated Press left messages Wednesday seeking comment from Pugh, who also is the subject of a complaint the Detroit Public Schools received from the parent of a recent graduate.
The mother, whose name was not released by the district, came forward earlier this month with concerns involving the 41-year-old Pugh and a mentoring program at Douglass Academy for Young Men, according to district spokesman Steve Wasko.
The complaint involved cash and gifts the teenager received while part of the program.
“At the time, the school reached out to the parent who stated that she would prefer to handle the matter personally,” Wasko said Wednesday in a statement. “The school has since contacted the parent again in writing seeking to resolve the concerns, and is awaiting a response.”
The district will review the leadership mentoring program at Douglass Academy, he added.
Detroit area attorney Ivan Land said he represents the teen’s mother and told The Detroit News that the gifts included a $350 cellphone and prom clothing. The teen also received $160 in cash from Pugh, Land said.
Pugh, a former TV anchor, resigned in 2009 from Detroit’s Fox Network affiliate and a local radio station to run for council. He became council president after receiving the most votes in that year’s general election.
“I have a mandate from the people of Detroit,” Pugh said after the election. “The people say they trust me and believe in me, and are looking forward to what new things I bring to the table. We need some new leadership, better collaboration and better cooperation.”
Earlier this year, Pugh said he would not seek re-election.
If Pugh steps down, only six council members will remain to conduct city business. Kwame Kenyatta resigned last week and City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown moves July 1 to Orr’s staff.
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said the council can continue to operate as long as there are enough members to make a quorum, but the loss of members will make it difficult for the smaller council committees to meet.