Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gives his annual State of the City Address on Tuesday, March 6, 2017 at Western International High School in Southwest Detroit. (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us Detroit)







  Duggan to reach out to community's 'most forgotten' as city rebounds

By Wendell Bryant
and Millie Wingwright
Tell Us Detroit

DETROIT (Tell Us Det) - Mayor Mike Duggan held his 5th State of the City address Tuesday night at Western International High School auditorium on the city's southwest side. His main talking points focused on jobs, education, housing and public safety.

Pointing out that more than 32,000 Detroit children now attend school outside the city he shared his plans for the city’s future generation by proposing a unified school bus system that would transport students from charter schools and the Detroit school district within a loop around the city, providing them with school choice, after-school programs and child care.

The mayor emphasized the city’s children have been among the most forgotten in the last decade.

As a result, he announced a joint schools advisory commission that would include representation from the city, Detroit schools and charter schools. The commission would rate all schools and give parents information on academic performance, teacher turnover, student attendance and more.

“We are going to start today by saying to the children, ‘We want you to stay,’” Duggan said. He went on to mention the Detroit Promise, a scholarship that covers college tuition and fees for graduates of the Detroit’s school district, and how already 1,182 students are benefiting from the program this year at community colleges and four-year universities.

“We are going to make sure that our kids not only go to school, they succeed at school,” Duggan said.

Also in his plans for the upcoming year, was tearing down dilapidated buildings and improving neighborhoods, announcing that he will recalibrate his troubled demolition program that is under investigation by the FBI and Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or SIGTARP, as well as a grand jury.

“I feel really bad about all the people that got into trouble because I tried to push them to do 8,000 a year,” he said. “But the truth is with our contractor capacity, we can’t do it.”

During the hour long speech the mayor highlighted his "Project Green Light", a surveillance program at hundreds of gas stations, fast-food restaurants in the city and "Operation Ceasefire", a program in which police partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Wayne County prosecutors to drive down crime.

Although Detroit’s homicides dropped 30 percent between 2012 and 2017, “it’s nothing to be proud of,” Duggan said Tuesday night. “Every city in America does not live with this violence.”

Duggan also emphasized the city’s success in reducing gun violence, increasing affordable housing units, providing jobs for more Detroiters and attracting major companies to the city.

The economy has been boosted by banks, industrial companies and major corporations opening facilities in Detroit. Hundreds of jobs have been created by this trend, he said. And as the city revives itself, Duggan said his goal has been to ensure that Detroit residents are the first to be considered for new jobs.

The mayor shared that all of these changes have lured more than 25 major companies, each bringing up 100 to 500 new jobs for Detroiters.

But he was quick to point out that more work needs to be done - from infrastructure improvements, demolishing all abandoned properties by the end of 2019 and job training and new business opportunities for Detroit residents who want to work where they live.

"We are chipping away at these barriers," he said. "One after another so that we can get Detroit residents to work."

The mayor also said that the city will be out of state oversight this spring - about 30 years ahead of schedule.





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