By Carol Cain
Mike Duggan said he never thought about running for mayor of Detroit, let alone take on the job which he will do Jan. 1 until the city hit the crisis point and was on the edge.
Duggan, who has a vast background in turnarounds, takes on the job with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr firmly in place and Gov. Rick Snyder keeping an eye on all from his perch in Lansing.
Duggan is heading into the job – which will have conditions no previous mayor of Detroit has ever faced — with his eyes wide open.
“I have to see what authority I have,” he said. “Whether it is Jan. 1 or Oct. 1 when he (Orr) is gone, we have to deal with issues of (street) lights, getting the police to show up, abandoned houses and making sure the buses are running on time.”
Duggan is among those who talk about Detroit in the CBS 62 “Eye on the Future: Detroit’s Next Chapter” which airs 6:30 pm. Sunday, Dec 15 (before “60 Minutes.”).
Also appearing in the special: Gov. Rick Snyder, Kevyn Orr, Bill Ford, Dave Bing, Judge Greg Mathis, Bill Pulte, Donald Graves, Ken Rogers, James Craig, Kirk Mayes, Jeff Adams, Tom Lewand, Charlie Sanders, Mel Farr, Rufus Bartell, Maureen Stapleton, Cassandra Thomas, A. Alfred Taubman, Dennis Archer, Tony Michaels, Roman S. Gribbs, Al Garrett, Donald Smith, Steve Bock, Lakishka Raybon, Saunteel Jenkins, Bankole Thompson, Bill Ford, Peter Bailey, Andrew Ahrendt, Chris Haag, Pashon Murray and Allen Rawls.
Detroit has become a tale of two cities amid the bankruptcy, meltdown of city services, and shrinking population.
At the same time, other areas including the downtown, are being energized with new businesses and more young people. Living space downtown is nearly gone amid the fervor.
There are those working to take that new found energy into the neighborhoods as they confront blight and crime.
“My grandfather (who started Pulte Homes) build his first house in Detroit when he was 19,” said Bill Pulte, adding the company has since built over a million homes.
“I had to do something to help when I read about children being afraid to walk to school because of the blight and crime,” said the 25-year-old.
He launched Detroit’s Blight Authority which is working to help neighborhood decay in communities including Brightmoor. The authority was announced during Mayor Dave Bing’s state of the city address in 2013.
Snyder came to office talking about Detroit – the state’s largest city – and making sure it was healthy. It’s a promise he’s clung to despite the fact his appointment of Kevyn Orr angered many.
The EM trumps authority over the mayor and city council who are elected by Detroit voters.
Conversations are ongoing between Duggan and Orr, whose watch as EM continues at least through September, on what control Duggan will be given under the new world political order.
Under Orr’s watch, the city filed bankruptcy in July which was just approved by Judge Steven Rhodes.
AFSCME is among those challenging Rhodes approval in court.
No doubt the bankruptcy will impact the livelihoods of the city’s 20,000-plus retirees, many depending on their pensions.
Snyder said no one will lose their entire pension.
But he added that , “to the degree they have vested pension benefits that are funded, those aren’t part of the bankruptcy. It’s really the unfunded portion of the pension that’s subject to this plan of adjustment.”
With the crisis playing out amid the flurry of national headlines, new businesses continue to open and gravitate to the city like Shinola.
“We had six employees two years ago, and today we are over 170,” said Steve Bock, who was tapped as CEO of Shinola as the privately held company decided to cut a new swath.
The firm – which makes high end bikes, watches, leather goods and more – has created a sensation from its perch in the heart of the Motor City.
Shinola’s headquarters and watch factory are located on the fifth floor of the Center for Creative Studies in downtown Detroit. They opened their flagship store on Canfield near Wayne State’s campus in June and another in Tribeca in New York City.
They are looking to add stores in Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco and Europe in the next year. Their products are sold at Nordstrom and Barney’s New York and also online.
“We get asked all the time – ‘why Detroit?’” said Bock about its decision to locate its headquarters and manufacturing in the Motor City. “It’s a wonderful city. There is this incredible manufacturing base. It’s simply an iconic city that everyone knows.”
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer/Host of “Detroit’s Next Chapter.” She worked with CBS Chief Videographer Paul Pytlowany on the special. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).