DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones addressed a wide array of questions at a forum, Wednesday, looking at their first 100 days in office.
The 12th Annual “Keys to Business Success” Business Forum was held at the St. Regis Hotel on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
Asked about plans to streamline the process of doing business in the city — especially the permitting process — Duggan was brutally honest.
“We do a lousy job,” the mayor admitted, “and it’s something that I’m very focused on, and Tom Lewand (Duggan’s top aide on economic issues) has got the charge of putting a one-stop shop in. I’m amazed with how many different steps there are.”
On the topic of Detroit’s ongoing public transportation woes, the mayor said he got a call from Jones one night last week after she’d actually picked up a couple ladies who had been waiting for a bus for an hour-and-a-half.
“She says, ‘I was driving down Linwood and there were two people waiting for the bus, and I picked ’em up and I’m driving ’em right now, so I wanted to let you know,'” Duggan said.
“I said, this is crazy,” added Jones, “when I have to stop because there’s two elderly women who I don’t want to see anything happen to and literally take them to where they’re going.”
Duggan said it takes 225 DDOT buses to move the city’s estimated 100,000 riders. Right now, he said, 175 city buses are rolling.
“And at the point of when I managed to get 50 buses out of my friends in Washington, we will be on schedule (to complete the fleet),” said Duggan. “Whether it’s next year, the jury’s still out, but we’re working on it every day.”
As for safety on the bus, Duggan said he has 10 transit police officers in training who will be riding DDOT buses within the next couple of weeks. In the next three or four months, he said, there will be 35 transit cops in place as well as a security camera on every bus.
The mayor said he actually got a call from D.C. concerning the buses during Wednesday’s forum.
Another highlight: Jones told the crowd that the Detroit City Council will be putting together a small business task force.
About 300 people — Detroit-based small businesses, entrepreneurs and community leaders — attended the forum.
Nana Dansoa of Dansoa Marketing was among them.
“This was a great experience; I really took my time to listen,” she told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas, who was a panelist at Wednesday’s event. “I’m usually the person that’s kinda skeptical, because you always have a lot of meetings out here, a lot of things talking about small business, but I have some good takeaways.
“Number one: There’s going to be a small business task force that focuses on us — and that’s inclusive of African-American owned, and even a woman,” Dansoa said. “So, now that you don’t feel that it’s all about downtown. It’s actually about the neighborhoods; about neighborhoods living, surviving and growing.”