By Christy Strawser, digital director
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) The rhetoric is ratcheting up as the Detroit mayoral race comes down to the wire, with candidate Benny Napoleon saying live on 97.1 The Ticket Monday morning front-runner Mike Duggan’s much-hyped turnaround of the Detroit Medical Center is a lie.
He also seemed to say Duggan is on the take.
“There is no turnaround and there was no turnaround,” Napoleon said on-air. “$50 million from the governor’s office for the DMC, his predecessor left, I believe in August, he took over in January. They got $50 million over a 10-month stretch, so he said the money was gone when he got there, but that was not true because the money was spread over a 10-month period, I believe about $27 million came between August and December when he knew he was going to be put there because his friend Gov. Granholm had orchestrated it.”
“He was the recipient of about half of that $50 million, a significant tax break from Bob Ficano in the county where it was designated as a renaissance zone, then he got fined $30 million for bribery, fraud and kickbacks by the Justice Department, then he turns around sells it, puts millions in his pocket and then hundreds of people got laid off and are continuing to be laid off. How is that a turnaround?”
Who put the money in their pocket — Duggan or Ficano? — host Mike Stone asked to clarify.
“Both,” Napoleon said, not elaborating on any of his allegations, which had not been forwarded until the last moments of the campaign.
Duggan took over the DMC in January 2004. It had lost $500 million during the previous six years, including $130 million in 2003, according to published reports. With Duggan at the helm, the health system turned around, raking in $2 billion in revenue in 2008.
DMC paid a $30 million settlement in 2010 to resolve what was described as an “improper financial relationships with physicians.” Crain’s Detroit reported at the time the problems stemmed from “below-market leases with physicians, free advertising, marketing and tickets to sporting events and educational seminars.”
At the final mayoral debate Sunday, Napoleon took the same attack tactics, citing Duggan for a litany of allegations and saying the turnaround storyline is “a fallacy.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, Napoleon ended the debate against the former prosecutor by saying, ““They have forgotten everything they have ever written about Mike Duggan — bribes, fraud, kickbacks, no-bid contracts, ghost employees. Mike’s just not right for Detroit.”
Duggan went on the Stoney, Bill and Sara show on 97.1 right after Napoleon and said this:
“He sounds like an angry guy, doesn’t he?” You see it in a campaign, they get behind, they say a lot of things they don’t mean.”
Duggan is leading heavily at the polls — 50 percent to Napoleon’s 26 percent according to the latest Detroit Free Press poll — and Napoleon said that isn’t slowing down his campaign.
“I’m doing what I’ve been doing, reaching out, touching people, getting the message out, it’s been working,” Napoleon said, adding, “It’s been resonating with the community, we’re doing well. We’re going to do much better than folks think.”
For his part, Duggan said, “I’m working hard right down to the end,” he said. “I don’t get too excited about polls, I just play it right to the end.”
Duggan defended himself against what he said were Napoleon’s baseless allegations, saying the DMC lost money before he took over, and when it started to succeed, there was a plan to award him stock.
He said he refused to take the money because “I didn’t do anything to earn this stock,” so he said he transferred the money into a fund for scholarships for the children of DMC workers.
Duggan and Napoleon have both made cutting down on crime in violence-plagued Detroit the center of their campaigns. So will Duggan consult Napoleon, the Wayne County sheriff, on crime solutions if he’s elected?
“We’ve been friends for a long time and in a week we’ll be friends again, it’s just a little tense right now,” Duggan said, adding that when he was a prosecutor and Napoleon a police chief they “got along fine.”
“I’m sure we’ll get along again,” he said.