The Throw Down in Motown
Published: October 9, 2013
MT: Best-case scenario, the plan works and sparsely populated blocks become completely vacant. What happens to those vacated blocks?
Duggan: This is where the ‘Department of Neighborhoods’ comes in. We will be set up in each of the seven City Council districts; and the district manager for that district will sit down with the neighborhood groups and make that decision together.
One neighborhood may say, “Let’s create a community garden in this property.” Another neighborhood may say, “Let’s put in some recreation area with volleyball courts and a horseshoe pit,” which is being done in a number of areas in the city by neighbors. In another area, you may be able to build new houses or create some kind of a business, and so we would make the decisions on each vacated area in partnership with the neighbors.
MT: Skeptics say you are using this mayoral run to eventually springboard to a higher political office, like governor or U.S senator? Will you state on the record you won’t seek another elected office?
Duggan: It would’ve been a lot easier to run for governor, if I wanted to be governor, than to run for mayor first. So no, mayor of Detroit is where my heart is and it’ll be the last political office I ever hold.
MT: There have been many questions raised about how much you personally gained from the sale of the Detroit Medical Center. Is there a slush fund? What’s the truth?
Duggan: The truth is public and on all the SEC filings; yes, I got several thousand shares of stock, which I was not expecting, and when I did, my wife and I put all of those shares of stock into a scholarship fund, which was passed out to pay college tuition for the children of DMC employees. Every dollar that I was rewarded as a result of that transaction went to the DMC employees in scholarship money.
MT: There’s been some grousing about your graduating class from the McNamara political machine: Jennifer Granholm, Freman Hendrix, Hansen Clarke and others. Do you regret anything about the way that you and Ed McNamara ran Wayne County in the 1990s?
Duggan: I regret the fact that we had one of our managers charged with a felony for hitting up an airport contractor to build him a kitchen. It was embarrassing and painful, but it was one incident and it was not a pattern. If you look at the 16 years that McNamara was there — finishing with 14 straight balanced budgets, building that modern airport we have out of Metro, building Comerica Park, building Ford Field — I think we did an enormous amount of good.
I won’t tell you we never made a mistake, but I think the county was much better off. And when we left Wayne County, the budget was balanced and the pension fund was fully funded. I think there are probably some people who’d like to see those days again.
MT: Thus far, race has been kept at bay during this campaign. With your double-digit lead in the polls, do you expect that to change with only a few weeks left?
Duggan: I don’t know. I’m not going to change what I’m doing.
MT: The proposed new home for the Red Wings that Mike Ilitch wants — do you support using a combination of taxpayer dollars to build it?
Duggan: I need to see the details on how Detroiters get access to those businesses and those jobs. I want to make sure — as we did when we built Comerica Park and Ford Field — that local companies and local employees are doing a huge amount of the work.
But subject to that, I do support [a new stadium] for this reason: The great majority of tax dollars in this deal are state tax dollars, and they are dollars Lansing would be [otherwise] spending in other parts of Michigan. I’m glad to finally see our state tax dollars coming back here to Detroit. But as I said, I want to make sure Detroiters get access to the businesses and the jobs as we review that agreement.
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