DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s mayor-elect Mike Duggan will soon be on his way to the White House.
Mayors and mayors-elect are making the trek to Washington, D.C. for a Friday the 13th lunch date. Both the president and V.P. will be there. Mike Duggan says that’s great, but it will give him a chance to network and share ideas with others.
“Obviously it’s an honor to be able to sit with the president and vice president, but I’m also going to have time with several of the cabinet officials and other senior advisors, and also a chance to meet with several of my fellow mayors. And we’re going to spend some time separate from the White House together, so I’m looking forward to it,” says Duggan.
However, Duggan tells WWJ that he’s not going to Washington simply looking for money.
“You know, there’s a lot more to the issue than more money. I have a lot of issues, for example, we’re still under a justice department consent agreement on the police department that’s costing us millions of dollars. So, there are a lot of ways that the federal government can help us besides writing checks and I intend to raise some of those issues,” says Duggan.
He adds, “The nature of these relationships is you don’t go up and ask for money, you develop relationships and you learn. In the 1990s, I was the person that went and negotiated the $150-million federal package that made the Metro Airport expansion possible. But it was two years of hard work, understanding the funding regulations and laying the groundwork, and demonstrating our own competence. And it’s going to be the same thing here.”
The Obama administration has made Detroit a key priority since it filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July, looking for ways to speed up or re-purpose an estimated $300-million in annual federal funds the Motor City receives. Duggan admits he does have some work to do to turn around Detroit’s reputation.
“Unfortunately, the city of Detroit has a history of turning back tens of millions of dollars in federal funding for things like blight removal, minor home repair and the like. The first thing that I need to do is reassure the federal government that we’re going to have a team in place that is going to use that money effectively, that’s not going to embarrass them,” he says.
Duggan has been in contact with several members of President Obama’s cabinet, constantly talking with them on the phone about many issues facing the city and working on solutions to help the city. The lunch date will cut down on long distance calls… at least for one day.