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Detroit Citizens Voted:
Re-opening the Belle Isle Aquarium?

Election results: Detroit
August 3, 2005

Reopen Belle Isle Aquarium?
100% of precincts reporting
Yes 110,615 88.0%
No   15,093 12.0%

Voters are advised that this is an Advisory Ballot Question and does not guarantee the reopening of the Aquarium.  It did, however, give Voters the opportunity to express their opinions which strongly indicate the need for exploring other sources for the funding and operation of the Belle Isle Aquarium.

City Council
Research and Analysis Division
                            May 17, 2005

Honorable City Council:
Re: Ballot Advisory Question; Reopening of the       
      Belle Isle Aquarium
      On Friday, May 13, 2005, Council member Sheila M. Cockrel requested the
      Research & Analysis Division (RAD) give an opinion on the whether the
      Legislative Branch of the City of Detroit can place and advisory question on
      the August 2, 2005 primary ballot, when that question is related to an
      appropriation or budgeted item.  
     The Section of the City Charter that address the Legislative Branch's ability
     to place items on the ballot for voter consideration is Article 3, Section
     3-101, which states:
     The City Council may by resolution adopted not less that seventy (70) days
     before any election or special election, submit any proposal to the voters of
     the City. (Emphasis added)
     It is the opinion of the Research & Analysis Division that the advisory question 
relative to the reopening of the Belle Isle Aquarium is permissible under the
Detroit City Charter.  RAD has attached the necessary resolution authorizing the
ballot language, and seeking the Election Commission's approval of the ballot
language in this report.
     The attached resolution must be approved by your Honorable Body, no later than
     May 24, 2005 to appear on the August 2, 2005 primary ballot.
     The City Charter does not allow citizen initiatives or citizen referendums to
     be placed on the ballot when the initiative or referendum is related to an
     appropriation or budgeted item.  Specifically Section 12-101 of the Charter of
     the City of Detroit states:
     The voters of the city reserve the power to enact city ordinances, called the
     initiative, and the power to nullify ordinances, enacted by the city, called
     the referendum.  However, these powers do not extend to the budget or any
     ordinance for the appropriation of money; the referendum power does not extend
     to any emergency ordinance.
     Therefore, the Charter prohibits citizens from placing, by petition, ballot
     referendums and initiatives relating to budget issues. The Charter does not
     prevent the Legislative Branch of City Government from placing any issue on the
     Finally, Council should be aware that ballot advisory questions historically
     have confused voters.  In one sense, an advisory question takes the pulse of
     the voters, in another sense the voters of the City expect a certain action if
     the question is approved.  In this case, the voters may believe that the Belle
     Isle Aquarium would be reopened if the majority of the electors vote in the
     affirmative, when in fact their vote is purely advisory.
     If you have any additional questions or direction, please do not hesitate to
     contact either Kerry Baltinger or myself at 224-4946.
Your Honorable Body placed a similar advisory question on the November 2002 ballot
relative to the  Belle Isle Zoo.
                                 Respectfully submitted,
                                 DAVID D. WHITAKER
                                              Interim Director

By Council Member Bates:
     Whereas, the Belle Isle Aquarium has been in continuous operation for the past
     101-years; remaining in operation during World War I, World War II, and the
     Great Depression, and
     Whereas, the Kilpatrick administration closed the Belle Isle Aquarium due to
     budget constraints on April 4, 2005, spurring protest from Detroit residents,
     and metropolitan Detroiters from across the region.  Now, Therefore, Be it
     Resolved, That as the legislative body of the City of Detroit, the Detroit City
     Council hereby determines to submit to the qualified electors of the City of
     Detroit at the August 2, 2005 Primary Election an Advisory Question relative to
     the reopening of the Belle Isle Aquarium,  And Be It Further
     Resolved, That the Advisory Question be printed upon the ballot for the August
     2, 2005 Primary Election as follows:
              ADVISORY QUESTION          

     Do you favor the City of Detroit reopening the Belle Isle Aquarium and
     restocking the Aquarium with a variety of domestic and exotic fresh and
     salt-water fish, plants and other aquatic species?


     Resolved, That before submission of said question to the voters of the City of
     Detroit, such Advisory Question shall be published in full as a part of the
     official proceedings of the Detroit City Council in the Detroit Legal News. 
     And Now, Therefore, Be It Finally
     Resolved, That a copy of the Resolution be transmitted to the Detroit Election
     Commission to certify the wording of the above ballot Advisory Question within
     the time prescribed by  law, for placement on the ballot for the August 2, 2005
     Primary Election.
     Adopted as follows:
     Yeas - Council Members Bates, K. Cockrel, S. Cockrel, Collins, McPhail,
     Tinsley-Talabi, Watson, and President Mahaffey -- 8. 
     Nays -- None.