LeDuff: Detroit sicker than ever after 3 months of consent deal - New York News

LeDuff: Detroit sicker than ever after 3 months of consent deal

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Spirit of Detroit (Credit: WJBK) Spirit of Detroit (Credit: WJBK)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

They said it was strong medicine for a sick city.  Detroit's consent agreement was supposed to be the prescription, but it's proven to be a hard pill to swallow.  After three months, the city is sicker than ever.

Remember Minister Malik Shabazz, a guy so hopped up about the city-state consent agreement a few months ago that he threatened to torch Detroit?

Well, the city called his bluff and signed the agreement anyway.  Now at the end of the first fiscal quarter, that's the first three months of the new budget year, Shabazz hasn't burned it down.  In fact, he took Bing at his word and started picking it up.

Shabazz and his Black Panthers teamed with some white kids from Wayne State a month ago and breathed life into an east side neighborhood on death watch by boarding up four dozen houses, mowing the lots and piling up the garbage.  Just one little problem.  City hall blew them off and neglected to pick up the piles leaving the garbage to rot and the rats to move in.

"All we're asking the city to do is pick up the trash.  When we clean it up, board it up, mow it down, cut it down and organize, please pick up the trash," said Shabazz.

The point of the consent agreement was to cut services and sacrifice until Detroit could balance its budget.  Problem is the city spun into anarchy.

Bing slashed the police budget, so now we have less cops on the street and more murderers.

They cut back on the fire department, but the arsonists haven't cut back.

Didn't fix payroll.

Remember we were going to demo 1,500 houses in three months.  Not so much.

You said you would fix the streetlights, Dave.  They're still out.

The deal with the state to redo Belle Isle is dead in the water.

"Bus service is like (expletive) in the city crapping all over the people," said Henry Gaffney, president of Local 26.

At least the books are balanced, right?  Wrong.  Sources tell us for the first fiscal quarter, the city is running a $20 million deficit.  Some reports put the red ink as deep as $40 million.  At that rate, the deficit will be worse than last year when the police were still working and fire trucks still arrived on time.

"What's happening is not government.  What's happening is not leadership.  What's happening is not cooperation," said Detroit City Council Member Kwame Kenyatta.

You deserve an explanation Detroit.  That's called a democracy.  And since Bing ignored our request for an interview yet again, we went to city hall to find him.

We ran into Jack Martin, the new chief financial officer hired under the consent agreement who is making nearly a quarter million dollars a year.  When he saw us, Martin made a beeline for the little boys room.  However, when asked whether there would be a $40 million deficit in the first quarter, he did say that was "absolutely not" correct.

We got similar treatment from the mayor's other left hand men.  Program Manager Kriss Andrews had no comment.  Neither did Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown when we asked him about the new financial plan.

Shabazz has tried a dozen times himself.  City hall all air not action.

"Mayor, you know you sold us out and I'm very disappointed in you," said Minister Dora Hatcher, president of the Hawthorne Hatcher Block Club.

"Now I see how he works.  It's no good," said former Bing voter Sylvester Hoskins.

There are children living in that east side neighborhood.  It's a sin to leave them surrounded by filth and rats.  Forget Bing.  I called my boys at Wayne County Roads to help clean it up.  Detroit is the county capital, after all.

Now truth can be stranger than fiction.  Guess who approved all the trucks?  Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano Under fire and federal investigation for his own mismanagement.

"We thank you.  We couldn't get our city government to respond, but we thank you," Shabazz told Ficano.

"We try to do the best we can," Ficano responded.

I know what you're thinking, but don't hate because a little neighborhood just got a second chance at life.  This is what regional cooperation and using your money wisely can look like.

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