Our new mayor, Mike Duggan, and the members of the new city council have a tough and rewarding job ahead of them as Detroit continues to move through one of the most challenging times in our history. They will set the tone for our city’s future, and ultimately create a new sustainable, business model that will take us into the future.
That new business model must deliver an action-oriented road map that puts people to work, improves education, moves our neighborhoods and our region forward, deals with Detroit’s safety and security issues and, most importantly, ensures our city never again falls into the economic quagmire we are in today.
The only way to accomplish those goals is to create a collaborative environment where business, government, labor, the religious community, residents and others come together to create a Detroit that is clean, safe and inviting for everyone in every neighborhood. That means eliminating silos. Sharing power. Listening to one another and building long-lasting, trusting relationships.
Here’s the bottom line: Everyone involved, from Mike Duggan to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to the Detroit City Council to city departments and unions to Governor Snyder and the state Legislature to the federal government, needs to be for Detroit.
Duggan is a master negotiator and I have every confidence he will gain a place at each table. Still, sitting at the table is not enough. His seat must carry the same weight as all the others for Detroit and a new business model to succeed.
That still is not enough to resolve one of our biggest challenges, safety and security.
Duggan must restore faith in the Detroit Police Department’s ability to keep our neighborhoods safe and to investigate and solve crimes and to respond quickly to emergencies. Chief of Police James Craig as well as Fire Commissioner Don Austin currently report to Orr. The best way to restore faith in both departments is have them report to the mayor’s office instead of the emergency manager. That would streamline decision-making, bring an amount of local control back to elected leadership and help Orr focus on finances and Duggan focus on fixing departments. I would hope the powers that be see the wisdom in making that change.
Much will be decided over the next month or so as we head toward Duggan’s inauguration on Jan. 1. He’s picked two very strategic and knowledgeable people to head his transition team … former state Rep. Lisa Howze, a certified public accountant, and former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon, an associate professor at the University of Detroit Mercy. With their help I hope he will be able to put together a strategic plan that will include the road map for Detroit’s future.
How that plays out will determine what image Detroit portrays locally, nationally and internationally for the foreseeable future.