Editorial: What Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan must do in his second term

Wednesday, 08 November 2017, 07:46:58 PM. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan must bring improvements to Detroit residents who've waited too long already.

With a second term secured, it's time for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to make good on his promises. 

There's no question that Detroit's gotten better during Duggan's first term. The streetlights are on. Police and fire response times are faster. The Detroit Department of Transportation's bus service has improved. Duggan has staffed key positions with nationally qualified appointees -- all translating to a more-smoothly-running city. 

But there's more work to do. 

Duggan secured a decisive victory over challenger state Sen. Coleman Young on Tuesday night. 



Duggan has resisted the notion of two Detroits, a concept Young and others use to describe a city in which investment and improvement is visited on select neighborhoods, leaving most Detroiters to wonder when their turns would come. 

Duggan insists that the two Detroits narrative is false, there is one Detroit, and that all Detroiters should expect -- and will get -- the same results from city government. 

It seems Detroit voters agreed. 

But drive around this city, and there's no question that Detroit, outside the 7.2 square miles that comprise Midtown and downtown, is a different place. Detroiters who live outside those areas of intense development -- new restaurants and apartments seem to open fortnightly, occupancy rates are high, and Wayne State University police patrols offer a level of safety not found in other neighborhoods -- don't necessarily resent the investment that's happened there. But they often wonder when their turns will come. 

 

That's the promise Duggan has to fulfill. 

The mayor has launched or backed programs he says will benefit Detroit's neighborhoods, including an ambitious rehabilitation of more than 100 homes and a commercial corridor in Detroit's Fitzgerald neighborhood. The Fitzgerald project is a test case, in many ways, for whether a regular-folks neighborhood, one that isn't lined with historic homes or iconic architecture, can attract and sustain investment. 

That's the kind of pragmatic plan that's key to a broader Detroit revival -- which has to focus just as intently on retaining and sustaining long-time residents as attracting new ones. 

 

But even if Fitzgerald is a stirring success, Detroit's problems are far from solved. 

An unacceptable number of homes enter foreclosure each year, and are sold in the county's tax foreclosure auction. When residents are ejected from an occupied home, no one wins. And while the number of homes entering tax foreclosure has fallen, that's thanks largely to payment programs -- a bandage for the symptom, not a cure for the problem. 

And Duggan has to get serious about accountability. 

It's true that the mayor has launched an open data portal with reams of information about the city's operations. But Duggan's first term has been dogged by persistent trouble in his aggressive demolitions program.

A pilot program that allowed large contractors to bid on bulk jobs was ill-conceived, Duggan later admitted, after costs soared beyond initial bids. A special inspector general for the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program has subpoenaed records from the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and a federal grand jury has subpoenaed other demolitions records. Duggan has said that any of the demolition program's sins were caused by haste, an effort to knock down enough houses to rid neighborhoods of destabilizing blight, not malfeasance. 

Detroiters deserve more. And in electing Duggan to a second term, they've offered him a chance to deliver. 

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