Duggan clashes with Rep. Santana over Detroit schools commission plan
LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - Mayor Mike Duggan was in Lansing Monday to ask state lawmakers to create a commission that would open and close schools in Detroit. However, a fellow Detroiter is pushing back against the plan.
Mayor Duggan pitched his Detroit Education Commission (DEC) to the House Budget Committee. It was clear that at the end he doesn't have enough votes to form the DEC and was upset by Rep. Harvey Santana when he brought up some pointed questions.
Santana supports the concept but asked why Duggan wanted sole authority to appoint the seven-member board. Then he brought up former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who also wanted to control all the contracts in DPS.
The Detroit lawmaker wondered if Duggan was following in Kilpatrick's footsteps. When he pushed the idea of Duggan having control of the DEC, things got a bit testy.
"I'm going to try to contain my resentment to that question because it was offensive. When you say because I want to control the contracts, you're using inflammatory language that you know is false. The DEC will have no authority over any contracts," Duggan said.
Santana said it was his job to ask tough questions and he used the word "kingmaker" in his exchange with the mayor.
"We're looking at a DEC budget of maybe a million or a million and a half dollars a year. This is not something where I'm trying to get control of a billion dollar school system. I resent the suggestion that this has something to do with controlling contracts," Duggan said.
Santana argued that he disagrees with one person having control of the appointment of the DEC but Duggan told FOX 2's Tim Skubick that he has no intention of running the schools.
"Everyone one can say what I'm proposing and they can make their own decisions. I've made it clear there's no circumstances in which I'm going to run the schools."
The mayor says in the end he and Santana will end up on the same page. Santana seemed to agree and said at the end of the hearing, he meant nothing personal during the exchange.
The Republican chair of the committee considering the bill is not a yes vote today and wants to offer an alternative.
"It would probably be different than the mayor would propose and he might not like all my ideas either," Rep. Al Pscholka said he would also take out the mayor appointing everybody by himself.
A compromise on the Mayor's plan could be voted on within two weeks.