Mayor says there's a problem with the emergency manager law

DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he has not decided whether to sue former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and his team over flaws in their efforts to fix the city’s finances.

One cloud looming over the Detroit remains the city’s pension system, which the mayor says is underfunded by a whopping $490 million.

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Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 on Wednesday Duggan, offered his take on how the pension problem mushroomed.

“The investigation’s still going on, but it looks like they used outdated life expectancy tables to make the numbers balance, and assume that people are not living as long as they are. But that investigation is ongoing,” the mayor said.

“But there is a problem with the emergency manager law. You’ve seen it in Detroit, you’ve seen it in Flint. You’ve got people who are there on a temporary basis who don’t have a stake and are gone.”

Duggan said the only silver lining to that cloud is that they have time to fix the problem.

“It starts to become due in 2024; and, so, as I said last night, it’s not a crisis — it’s a problem,” Duggan said. “And we’re going to start putting money away now, and we’re going to start managing the problem now…and we’re gonna to be Ok.”

“But it’s $490 million dollars we couldn’t put into other service in the city over the next 8 or 10 years, and that’s disappointing.”

The mayor’s comments came the morning after his 2016 State of the City address, which was interrupted by noisy hecklers Tuesday night.

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Duggan said he wasn’t bothered by it.

“No; I’ve had a lot worse than that. They were complaining about the emergency manager in Flint, so I don’t know if they got lost or what they were doing,” Duggan said. “But in this day and age it’s a common thing.”

Despite said another major hurdle to the city’s comeback is education reform, and he was scheduled to testify in Lansing on Wednesday on that topic.

Duggan would like to see local control restored to the Detroit Public Schools this year, and a mayor-appointed gatekeeper for the opening and closing of charter schools in Detroit.

Wednesday’s hearing is on the House Republicans’ DPS reform plan.  The Senate is conducting hearings on their own plan.

Meantime, Duggan said, remains optimistic about the city’s future.

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“I think people in the city understand where we are. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.”