Duggan ‘Blindsided’ By Hackel, Patterson Opposition to Regional Transit Plan

Detroit mayor reflects on DNC speech and criticizes suburban leaders for RTA opposition.

Sandra Svoboda

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s (RTA) board has put the organization’s plan to improve public transportation in Metro Detroit in limbo. In a controversial vote on Thursday, the RTA failed to get enough support on the board to approve a millage request that would have required voter approval in November. The vote was stalled last week after last-minute concerns brought up by county executives L. Brooks Patterson of Oakland County and Mark Hackel of Macomb County. Both of those counties voted ‘no’ on Thursday, which was enough to block the plan.

Regional transit is an issue Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has actively pursued in office.

“I thought everybody was in agreement on the plan,” Duggan tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson prior to the vote. “I think I was blindsided along with everybody else. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel haven’t called up and said, hey we’ve got this problem or that problem, let’s talk about it.”

Henderson spoke with Hackel and RTA CEO Michael Ford about the issue on Wendesday. You can listen to and read about that conversation here.

On Wednesday, Duggan touted Detroit’s revitalization in front of the Democratic National Convention, giving much of the credit to the Obama administration. But it’s also notable who he didn’t give credit to — Republican Gov. Rick Snyder or the Republican-dominated state Legislature who passed legislation that helped Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.

“I was at the Democratic convention!” Duggan explains to Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. “I don’t know who would expect me to go to a Democratic convention and talk about Republicans,” he says.

From Duggan’s speech:

“We are going to build a Detroit where it no longer matters if you are black, brown, or white, where it no longer matters if you’re Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, where it no longer matters if you’re gay or straight or whether you’re an immigrant or you were born in the city of Detroit – everybody will be equally valued and everyone will have real opportunity.”

Being asked to speak at the DNC is great for the city, Duggan says, especially since mayors aren’t often featured at the conventions.

“There’s a lot of interest in Detroit’s recovery,” says Duggan. “You can feel it across the country that people are behind us… It’s a lot easier to rebuild a city when the federal government wants to help you.”

To hear the full conversation with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, click on the audio player above.


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