The city of Detroit has more than $100 million in federal money to bust blight in the city. When Mayor Mike Duggan took office, he promised city residents he would take care of everything.
But the numbers, frankly, don't add up.
Everyone loves a good comeback. Mayor Duggan's office says it's tearing down nasty, decrepit houses in Detroit cheaper and quicker than expected; leading many to think a comeback is coming faster.
Until Charlie LeDuff looked at the numbers.
Charlie submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to check on the blight that the city says it's busting. He wanted the numbers, addresses, costs, etc. and he wanted to compare to previous administrations. He got it, eventually.
First, a spreadsheet that said the city knocked over 3,000 structures in two years. That's no better than Dave Bing.
Then another spreadsheet that said 1,000 structures were torn down but it didn't show the cost.
Finally, a third spreadsheet came in that shows 6,300 structures were torn down. All that one showed about the buildings were the addresses.
Clear as mud.
OK. So how much did it cost to tear down each house? Under Bing, it was $10,000 per home. The first year under Duggan, it was over $13,000. By year two, it was $16,000.
No matter which number is right, it appears Detroit has not torn down any more buildings than they did during the days of Mayor Bing.
We took a look at 50 demolition bids. In more than 20 percent of the time, the contractor who the city judged to be the best and who had also bid the lowest price, didn't get the job. If that seems odd, it's because it is.
Three contractors we talked with said they've had conversations about it with federal authorities.
Either way, demo work in Detroit is happening. However, the city says it has completed 150 per week, which isn't true. At best, it's half that as the price has spiked through the roof.
So Charlie took on City Hall. To get some answers. Well, he tried to get some answers.