Mayor Mike Duggan addresses Inspector General investigation
DETROIT (FOX 2) - Federal investigators say there are no city officials in their cross-hairs regarding demolition. And the mayor? Well, he's taking a victory lap.
"I've said from the beginning that if any public official committed a crime, they should be charged," Mayor Mike Duggan said. "But in the 3-year investigation I never saw any evidence that anybody running The Land Bank or the Building Authority had broken any laws."
But the mayor's smile faded as reporters asked about the city's Office Inspector General's announcement she would investigate mayoral staffers' efforts to raise money for an organization connected to a woman rumored to be Duggan's mistress.
"I'm going to cooperate 100 percent with the OIG investigation," Duggan said.
Duggan took issue with a Detroit Free Press investigation questioning whether it was appropriate for the mayor to ask his staff to help raise money for a program run by the woman, who is a doctor at Wayne State University. The program is designed to cut down on the number of Detroit babies dying shortly after birth.
"If somebody had wanted to write a story that says that I partnered with America's leading research institution on preterm birth on a four-year partnership to reduce infant mortality and the doctor who ran it volunteered and never accepted a dime, that would have been a totally appropriate story, but it wouldn't have generated anything," Duggan said.
For years, speculation was that Detroit's demolition program was dirty, has dogged Duggan. Three years ago, the city was forced to admit it had submitted some funky paperwork to get state and federal money for some tear downs.
Three years later, Duggan is still smarting from the slap.
"The ineligible grant payments in 2016 was my biggest embarrassment. we want to make sure that doesn't happen again," Duggan said.
Duggan says city officials have been cooperating with federal investigators and were confident that his administration was in the clear - but other Detroit mayors figured they were in the clear, so it's always good to hear the feds say it's private companies - and not city officials - in the crosshairs.
"I was pretty confident that what was coming down was contractor related, but it's a great relief to hear it officially, I can tell you that," Duggan said. "It's a great relief to the people of this community who hopefully are no longer going to have to listen to any more of the uninformed chatter that Detroit is about to experience any more indictments of their public officials.
With the federal cloud shifted from city hall, the mayor says it's time to shift the focus to finishing the job.
"We've taken down more than 17,000 abandoned buildings," he said. "But we're only half-way there. We've got another five years to go to remove every abandoned building from the city."
So what's next in the federal investigation of demolition? The mayor says the feds will have to tell you. there's just one problem: they never talk.