State of the City 2020: No Detroiter Left Behind

Cui bono is a Latin phrase which means “who benefits?” Its often used in legal situations to suggest that there is a high probability that those responsible for a certain event are the ones who stand to gain from it. For example, if a certain crime has been committed, ‘cui bono’ suggests that the person who committed that crime is likely someone who benefited from it.

However, when talking about the revitalization and resurgence of Detroit many citizens find themselves asking ‘Cui bono’. During his seventh State of the City address Mayor Mike Duggan proves to be ever astute at having his ear to the streets as his presentation focused heavily on the work being done to ensure that no Detroiter is left out of the resurgence of Detroit.

Duggan chose Flex-N-Gate as his stage to speak to the city. The $160 million facility located on the city’s east side is a symbol of auto manufacturing jobs coming back to Detroit.

Here is a rundown of the State of the City:

One year ago today, the City of Detroit was facing the closure of the GM Poletown Plant and the loss of 2,000 jobs. Through intense discussions that included Mayor Duggan, UAW President Rory Gamble, UAW VP Cindy Estrada, GM CEO Mary Barra and Governor Gretchen Whitmer not only was the Hamtramck plant saved GM invested $2.2 bilion in upgrading the plant and created 2,200 jobs.

This is a huge accomplishment considering it was largely stated that manufacturing in Detroit was dead. Since then we’ve had companies make huge investments in building plants in Detroit. Take Flex-N-Gate for example they invested $95 million to build the first major plant in Detroit in 25 years. This move has created 600 jobs – half of which went to Detroiters.

The mayor also states that Detroiter’s can expect about 5,000 jobs coming with the Ford’s renovation of the train station and Corktown Campus.

Duggan also discussed the elephant in the room when he mentioned gentrification saying that he looked to cities like Brooklyn and Washington D.C. as an example of what not to do. “Our strategy is being driven by the Detroit Equity Council –9 Cabinet Members who constantly assess if Detroiters are benefiting fairly from this recovery,” said Duggan.

Duggan has included initiatives aimed at leveling the playing field for Detroit children. There is a focus on recreation (37 new rec centers opened) and education (free tuition at WSU and the Promise Detroit). He also spelled out the plan to prevent foreclosures—telling citizens to go to www.detroitmi.gov to access one of the 40 agencies that are in place to help keep Detroiters in their homes.

The mayor spoke about the need to increase the amount of officers on patrol and he said something very key: “We want to have a police force that comes from the city and reflects the city.” This is a sentiment shared by many activists in urban communities. We need more police that can identify with the population they are policing. And having ties to the community certainly helps.

Then there was the topic of Marijuana sales and licensing. It was recently announced that while the rest of the state has started recreational marijuana sales Detroit has banned recreational marijuana sales until spring.  Mayor Duggan gave more insight into the reason for the delay stating that Councilman James Tate is taking the lead on ensuring that Detroiters have access to opportunities in the marijuana industry. Some of the issues being addressed: Out of the 40 Medical Marijuana dispensaries now legally operating only four are owned by Detroiters –90% live outside the city. Applicants for new licenses are largely outside Detroit or Michigan. This is a big issue as an enormous amount of wealth will be created in Detroit via the marijuana industry and Detroiters should get a fair share of that new wealth. “For all retail licenses going forward, 50% of all future licenses will be awarded to Detroiters,” said Mayor Duggan. “The people of Detroit deserve a seat at the table in an industry that’s going to be around for a long time.”

All in all mayor Duggan touched on a host of issues important to the people of Detroit and he made commitments to making sure that Detroiters are not displaced. That we have a fair opportunity to be a part of our city’s comeback; that those who benefit from the opportunities presented by a “new Detroit” are the people of “old Detroit” –the people that were born here who live and work here and have never given up hope that this city will thrive.

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