DETROIT - "We've made mistakes trying to do the right thing, and the people of Detroit will judge whether that's excusable or not," said Mayor Mike Duggan.
That is Duggan explaining how the cost of dirt has the city and the state slinging mud at each other over $6 million in demolition costs.
The city has already copped to improperly billing more than a million dollars in demolition costs to the state.
"As we stand here today, we know this: the city agencies made mistakes. There’s no question about it," Duggan said. "We did not build a strong enough corporate compliance team to manage the high volume. Those mistakes have been fixed."
Duggan is now disclosing that the state wants another $6 million, most of it for dirt the city used to fill in holes where houses used to stand, but Duggan says the city disagrees with the state and will fight to keep the money.
He says a panel of three judges will determine whether the city of the state should get that money. At the same time, the mayor vowed to fight to keep the dough, he sought to reassure Detroiters that procedures have been put in place to make sure there will be no more mistakes and that the demolition program will be better than ever.
"I fully expect by the end of this year, we will have the most successful year ever in demolishing abandoned houses in the city of Detroit," Duggan said.
Duggan wouldn't say who should be held responsible for the problems, but he said he blames himself for pushing demolition officials to knock down houses without instituting proper checks and balances.
ML Elrick: "So should you be disciplined?"
"I feel like I’ve lost an awful lot of sleep on this," Duggan said. "But the voters of the city will decide whether the speed with which we've been taking houses out of these neighborhoods justifies the mistakes that were made."
Duggan is expected to formally announce his re-election campaign on Saturday. But it sure sounds like he's already running and hoping voters won't hold his demolition problems against him.
"I think they believe that I'm trying it good faith to get them down as fast as we can and they'll make a judgment as to whether the actions were made with a good heart," Duggan said. "And obviously they'll get a chance to express that in November. And I'm prepared to live with that judgment, too."