Metro Detroit’s infrastructure is badly in need of repair and the state must find funding to fix it.
That was the message from the so-called “Big 4,” the executives of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who discussed issues facing the region in an annual news conference at the Detroit Economic Club.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says the Michigan legislature must make a serious effort to improve infrastructure in the state above and below ground.
Patterson noted the massive sinkhole that erupted in Fraser and said no county in Michigan is immune from a similar problem.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar challenge before us. That one sinkhole is gonna cost that community about $100 million. And that’s gonna happen all over the tri-county, if not southeast Michigan. Our infrastructure’s old. It’s time for an upgrade,” Patterson said.
The Oakland County executive adds that he believes voters rejected a proposed Regional Transit Authority millage in part because he and other county leaders did not have enough input in promoting the idea.
Patterson says he and the other Big 4 leaders will take a second look at becoming personally involved in pushing for a region-wide public transit system.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is making progress on what he calls its most pressing problem: crime.
Detroit continues to be mired in high rates of poverty and unemployment and is still dotted with thousands of blighted structures.
But Duggan told the crowd at the Economic Club that his biggest concern for Detroit is the continuing string of homicides in the city.
Duggan said, “We just gotta get the violence down at a faster rate than we have been. We got a great police chief and we’re going to get him some more resources. So I’m really hopeful that this is the year we begin to see the homicide rate come down in a significant way.”
Detroit officials say there were more than 300 homicides in the city last year.
To combat the violence, Duggan says Detroit is adding about three-dozen new police officers every month.
He said in March the city would unveil a new center designed to keep track of criminal activity as it occurs.
Allegations of wrongdoing among elected leaders in Macomb County also took center stage at the meeting.
A series of elected officials across Metro Detroit are asking for the resignation of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.
The calls come after the release of a recording that allegedly reveals the mayor making discriminatory comments.
Tape recordings have surfaced that appear to show Fouts disparaging people of color and older women.
Fouts counters that the recordings are fake.
But Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said he ensured the recordings were made public because they were too important to remain private.
He said, “I refused to let that go unheard because it is his voice, it is his conversation and it is completely unacceptable. But to manufacture some kind of a statement that somebody made that into his voice, that has gotta be the most absurd thing I have heard in 30 years in law enforcement as a defense to what that mayor said.”
Fouts has accused Hackel of releasing the recordings in retaliation for the Warren mayor’s criticism of what he calls illegal dumping at Macomb County’s Freedom Hill theater.