In his first State of the City Address, Mayor Mike Duggan outlined a vision and strategy for improving services to Detroiters who have waited too long for real change.
Duggan highlighted several key successes in the first two months of his administration, including a property assessment reduction, improvements to DDOT service and security and improving public lighting.
He also punctuated his speech with stories of Detroiters overcoming great challenges just to live in the city. One example included a 53-year-old veteran who has had to take his DDOT bus in the wrong direction on his way to work, just to make sure he could get a seat when the bus eventually turned back around at the end of the line.
Duggan also emphasized the importance of cooperation between the Mayor’s Office and City Council and a respectful, functional relationship between the Mayor, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and City Council, as well as the strong support the city has been receiving from the Obama Administration.
Among the key initiatives Mayor Duggan Announced were:
Creation of the Department of Neighborhoods: Mayor Duggan has fulfilled a key campaign pledge by creating a single city department to handle the myriad of city services that directly relate to neighborhoods, including blight removal, trash collection, demolition, vacant lot clearing. Instead of having to navigate 14 different offices scattered across the city, residents will be able to go to a single location in each of the city’s seven city council districts. Duggan also named the community leaders he has tapped to manage the DON offices across the city, which are expected to be established by the end of March.
· District One: Stephanie Young
· District Two: Kim Tandy
· District Three: Gary Bullock
· District Four: Odell Tate
· District Five: Vince Keenan
· District Six: Rico Razo
· District Seven: Marshal Bullock
Put Fire Escrow Fund demolition money to work: Currently, there is nearly $20 million dollars in an escrow funds earmarked for burned houses across the city that have sat unused for years. Today, there are more than 5000 fire damaged, demolition ready homes across the city. In his speech, Duggan announced that the city will tap into the fire escrow fund and begin strategic demolition within the next 30 days.
Blight: The Detroit Land Bank, with the help of Detroit’s Law Department, will be filing lawsuits, going after property owners who’ve allowed homes to become eyesores. The property owners will have the choice to either fix up the house and have it occupied in six months or tear it down. If they choose to ignore the city’s request, we will file suit and seize the house. Those that are solid will be auctioned off. Those that are beyond repair will be demolished.
Improve maintenance of city parks: In addition to pledging the city will maintain 150 of the city’s premier parks to its highest standard of grass cutting every two weeks and 50 more on a three week cycle, Duggan announced a new partnership that will keep another 50 parks groomed and clean throughout the year. To accomplish this, Duggan has enlisted the support of dozens of ministers across the city, 30 of which already have signed pledges for their churches to maintain the parks. In addition to making sure the grass is cut every three weeks, they also have pledged to the park free of trash.
Bringing Detroit’s Lighting to National Standards: The Public Lighting Authority is moving quickly through the pilot areas on Detroit’s Westside and Eastside. Crews are installing more than 500 new LED lights every single day. The new plan, backed by Mayor Duggan and City Council means LED lights that meet the national standard will be in Detroit’s neighborhoods by 2015, a full year ahead of schedule.
DDOT: Detroit is bringing in more mechanics to get our buses back on the road faster. The Mayor has also asked US Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox to act quickly on Detroit’s request for 50 new buses that will be in service by this Fall. DDOT is installing 50 security cameras on buses within the next month and 300 by this fall. Those cameras will be supported by a dedicated transit police force of 40 officers who will be in place on our buses this spring.
EMS: The city is purchasing 15 new ambulances. Those ambulances are expected to be in service by this summer. The city is also in the process of hiring 70 new EMTs. We are also working with Jack Martin and the Detroit Public Schools to create a joint program that will allow young people to get their EMT certificates while they are still in high school. The initiative is part of our commitment to train and hire Detroiters for this critical job.
D-Insurance: The Mayor has assembled a team that’s working to help Detroit develop its own auto insurance plan. The plan will be called D-Insurance. The Mayor and City Council must first act jointly to conduct a feasibility study. That study should be ready to go this summer.
Creating Jobs in Detroit: Tom Lewand and his Jobs and Economy Team are working on ways to stimulate job growth in industries like construction, manufacturing, medicine and technology. We’re developing plans to bring incubators to employment centers in neighborhoods that will connect entrepreneurs to mentoring, work space and much needed capital. The Mayor, his team and City Council are working to make sure upcoming projects like M1 Rail and the new Red Wings Hockey Arena will create jobs and business opportunities for Detroiters.
Improving the Lives of Detroit’s Children: The Mayor is pushing an initiative to reduce the number of premature births in the city of Detroit. Statistics show more than 1 out of 6 babies born in Detroit are born prematurely, a rate 50% higher than the rest of the nation. Babies born before 32 weeks are much more likely to have learning disabilities with lifelong difficulty in reading and math. Detroit’s Health Director Vern Anthony and Dr. Sonia Hassan of Wayne State University along with a number of our health care facilities are part of an initiative to ensure our doctors have access to the latest medical breakthroughs in an effort to ensure healthier starts for Detroit’s children.
Affordable Care Act: The Mayor is proud to say Detroiters are registering in high numbers for health care through the affordable care act. To further increase enrollment, the Mayor is deeming March “Get Enrolled” month. The city is opening up enrollment at 5 firehouses across the city on Mondays and Wednesdays starting next week. We’re also opening enrollment on scheduled days at three recreation centers, Adams, Butzel, and Young. Details are available on the City of Detroit website.
Support Tough Scrap Legislation: Mayor Duggan is joining with the Detroit Crime Commission and the Michigan Police Chiefs in urging Lansing to move quickly to pass House Bill 4593. The bill requires scrap bill owners who purchase catalytic converters, air conditioning units and copper wire to take a photograph of the seller and pay the seller by a check mailed to an address or hold the payment for three days.