Duggan defends Detroit's skyrocketing house demo cost

Image 1 of 9

Last week a report by The Americans with Charlie LeDuff asked Mayor Mike Duggan's bigwigs why the cost of demolition is spiraling out of control.

They couldn't.

On Tuesday Mayor Mike Duggan was called before the city council to explain his management of more than $100 million in federal demolition funds. Charlie LeDuff was there.

Maybe the numbers would have added up, if the mayor had offered any numbers to add up.  Duggan's explanation seemed to be good enough for the city council, but not for Charlie LeDuff.

So this week, in an extraordinary scene, Duggan brought about dozen aides to help him explain to the city council how  story was wrong.

Nobody told LeDuff about the meeting. He found out anyway.

"I'm very proud of this demolition program," Duggan said at the meeting.

Funny, Duggan didn't dispute the fact that demo costs have ballooned 65 percent in just two years. What he attempted to do was justify how demolitions have gone from $10,000  to $16,000.

At the meeting Duggan discussed grass, sidewalks, trucking and dirt. But Duggan did not offer a cost breakdown.

LeDuff noticed. City Council President Brenda Jones noticed it, too. Jones said the administration promised the cost was going to be reduced.

So we did some checking. Pontiac got some federal demolition money.  Detroit's costs are 25 percent higher. Saginaw and Flint got money too. Detroit's costs are 30 percent higher.

Romulus didn't get any of the federal money. Maybe that's why Detroit's costs are more than 200 percent higher.

LeDuff takes another look at Detroit's fuzzy demolition math - and Duggan's response, on the next Americans.