The Detroit Charter and City Government
ARTICLE 7.5. INDEPENDENT DEPARTMENTS and OFFICES
CHAPTER 4. OMBUDSPERSON
Annotations By: Jacqueline Bejma
Sec. 7.5-401. Ombudsperson
A City ombudsperson will be appointed by a 2/3 majority of city council
The Ombudsperson shall be appointed by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of City Council members serving.
Sec. 7.5-402. Term of Office
The Ombudsperson’s term is ten (10) years.
The Ombudsperson may be removed for cause by a two thirds (2/3) majority of City Council members serving.
Any person who has held the position of Ombudsperson is not eligible for re-appointment.
Sec. 7.5-403. Vacancy
If a vacancy occurs in the office of Ombudsperson, the City Council shall, within sixty (60) days, fill the office for a full term.
Sec. 7.5-404. Salary
The salary of the Ombudsperson is equal to the salary of the Auditor General.
Sec. 7.5-405. Staff
The ombudsperson can appoint up to 6 staff
To carry out the responsibilities of the office, the Ombudsperson may, within appropriations, appoint not more than six (6) employees who are exempt from Article 6, Chapter 4 of this Charter. The number of exempt positions on the Ombudsperson’s staff may be increased by a majority of City Council members serving.
Sec. 7.5-406. Definition
In this chapter, “official act” means any action, omission, decision, recommendation, practice or procedure of any agency.
Sec. 7.5-407. Jurisdiction
The ombudsperson may investigate any official act of any agency except elected officers
If the ombudsperson investigates an agency with subpoena power, it can only investigate whether the agency’s investigation and hearing was conducted fully and fairly
The Ombudsperson may investigate any official act of any agency except elective officers which aggrieves any person. The authority of the Ombudsperson extends equally to all agencies. However, with respect to any investigation authorized by this Charter to be made by an agency having subpoena power, the Ombudsperson may only investigate and report whether the agency’s investigation and hearing, if any, was conducted fully and fairly.
The Ombudsperson may establish procedures for receiving and processing complaints, conducting investigations and hearings, and reporting findings. No fee shall be levied for the filing or investigation of complaints.
Sec. 7.5-408. Powers of Investigation
Full cooperation of all agencies is required
Office of the ombudsperson must apply to the court for subpoena, testimony, evidence, etc
The ombudsperson may obtain representation of an attorney if there is a conflict of interest between the ombudsperson and another branch of government
The Ombudsperson may request and shall be given necessary assistance and information by each agency. The Ombudsperson may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, require the production of evidence relevant to a matter under investigation, enter and inspect premises within the control of any agency during regular business hours, and establish rules of procedure. To enforce a subpoena or order for production of evidence or to impose any penalty prescribed for failure to obey a subpoena or order, the Ombudsperson shall apply to the appropriate court.
Where there exists a conflict of interest between the Ombudsperson and another branch of government, the Ombudsperson has the authority to retain an attorney licensed to practice law in Michigan who shall represent the Ombudsperson in legal proceedings. Such attorney shall not represent the city as a municipal corporation in any legal proceeding.
Sec. 7.5-409. Delegation of Powers
The ombudsperson may delegate powers in writing to a member of staff
Delegation of power is revocable at will
The Ombudsperson may delegate in writing to a member of the staff the powers to administer oaths and take testimony.
A delegation is revocable at will and does not prevent exercise of any power by the Ombudsperson.
Sec. 7.5-410. Correspondence From Person Detained
Letters from an incarcerated person under the control of an agency must be forwarded, unopened, to the ombudsperson
Any letter to the Ombudsperson from a person in a place of detention, penal or otherwise, under the control of an agency shall immediately be forwarded, unopened, to the Ombudsperson.
Sec. 7.5-411. Consultation Required
Any report or recommendation that criticizes an official act cannot be announced until all those affected have been notified and given an opportunity for a hearing
After this hearing, any formal report will be accompanied by a statement by any agency or person affected by the report
No report or recommendation that criticizes an official act shall be announced until every agency or person affected is allowed a reasonable opportunity to be heard with the aid of counsel.
After the hearing, if the Ombudsperson believes it necessary to make a formal report, a copy of any statement made by an agency or person affected shall accompany the report.
Sec. 7.5-412. Reports
The ombudsperson will make periodic reports of its activity to city council
The Ombudsperson shall make periodic reports to the City Council of action taken under this chapter. All reports shall be made public.
Sec. 7.5-413. Duty to Report Illegal Acts
If the ombudsperson suspects any illegal act by an elective officer, appointee or other, it must report this to the appropriate authority
If the Ombudsperson has probable cause to believe that any elective officer, appointee, employee or member of an agency or any person doing or seeking to do business with an agency has committed or is committing any illegal act, the Ombudsperson shall promptly refer the matter to the appropriate authorities.
Sec. 7.5-414. Obstruction
Any person or office that obstructs the work of the ombudsperson is subject to dismissal or forfeiture of their position
The office or position of any elective officer or appointee who willfully and without justification or excuse obstructs any investigation of the Ombudsperson by withholding documents or testimony may be forfeited under section 2-107(B)(2) of this Charter.
Sec. 7.5-415. Immunity
The ombudsperson and staff are immune from any suit that may be brought regarding reports or communication done within the scope of their office
The Ombudsperson and the staff shall be, to the full extent permitted by law, immune from any suit based on any report or communication within the scope of official duties.
Sec. 7.5-416. Limitations
The ombudsperson cannot hold any office of trust or profit other than the office of ombudsperson
The ombudsperson is not eligible for any city office for 2 years after leaving the position
The Ombudsperson may not hold any office of trust or profit other than the office of Ombudsperson, or engage in any occupation for profit outside the duties of this office. The Ombudsperson is not eligible to hold any city office until two (2) years after leaving the position.
Sec. 7.5-417. Remedies Cumulative
The remedies of this chapter are additional to those provided under any other law.