Duggan: more work needed with jobs, safety in state of city

Image 1 of 3

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wasted no time in his State of the City Address highlighting how far the city has come Tuesday night.

"We had more Detroiters working than we have had in 10 years - we are heading in the right direction," he said. "Our property values are up for the first time in 17 years."

But he was quick to point out that despite growth, Detroit has the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the country. He then gave us a history lesson of how that came to be - showing how one by one, auto plant after the closed or left town taking jobs with them. 

"We want to be a city committed to creating job opportunities for everyone," Duggan said. "While that sounds like a slogan, we have to rethink everything we have done. Because we are going to have to reverse 70 years of city history."

Duggan followed that up with the attraction of Ford Motor Company and the purchase of Michigan Central Train Station. 

"We looked at possible tax abatements and I am not going to shy away from this, because if we are going to bring middle class jobs back to the city, we have to compete," Duggan said.

He followed that up with the announcement of Chrysler investing a new plant in downtown. a deal expected to be finalized by the end of April. 

"Once we get this Chrysler deal done we are turning our attention to the Poletown (Hamtramck GM) Plant," Duggan said. "I am giving up on that at all."

He then turned his attention to the neighborhoods - highlighting local real estate developers and focusing on keeping housing affordable. 

"My obligation is to those who stayed," said Duggan. "And we are not going to let those who stayed get pushed out of their affordable housing as the city redevelops."

Staying in the neighborhoods Mayor Duggan spoke on the progress made demolishing vacant houses. 

"This month we entered into the contracts for the last of the $275 million of federal money," Duggan said. "For all the noise that's been out there about investigations, the folks have been doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing - as far as doing those investigations. Treasury had confidence in us, Michigan had confidence in us and they kept the money flowing. We now have contracted for the last of it."

He says the city is on track to have them all knocked down or boarded up by the end of the year. 

As far as education, Mayor Duggan says the Detroit promise of paying community college to anyone graduating from Detroit Public Schools is on target to help put 1,400 students through school.

During the mayor's address he talked a lot about accomplishments of 2018 and 2019. We went to the city council president and asked what's the biggest challenge for 2019.

"Crime is going to continue to be a big challenge until we are no longer number 3, 2, or 1," said Brenda Jones. "We need to continue to hire officers and offer incentives that we give the Detroit police officers because as you know Detroit is one of the lowest paying municipalities."

Mayor Duggan says he is well aware of the affect crime has on the growth of any city. Once again saying progress has been made homicides and shootings are down.

"We still have the third highest homicide rate in America," Duggan said. "Believe me, nobody feels safe in a city with the third highest homicide rate in America. We are not celebrating what we have done. But we are going to build on it."

As far as fighting crime in 2019, the mayor says stayed tuned for an expansion of the green light program incorporating traffic cams into the system monitoring the city in real time.