We had a busy year at Motor City Muckraker. From chasing fires to uncovering city hall corruption, we worked around-the-clock to bring you stories that dig beneath the surface.
During our first full year at Motor City Muckraker, our goal was to hold public officials accountable while shedding light on Detroit’s underserved neighborhoods.
Here are some of our favorite moments:
1. MCM stories lead to state treasurer’s resignation: We revealed that Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon had a drinking problem and sent racially charged text messages to his wife, even as he oversaw the unprecedented financial takeovers of school districts and cities, including Detroit. The stories ultimately led to Dillon’s resignation.
2. In-depth coverage of Detroit’s fire crisis: We spent a year documenting the fire crisis in Detroit, showing the impact of an inadequately funded Fire Department that lacked both leadership and accountability. We discovered that the city was drastically underreporting arsons and only investigated one of five suspicious fires. Overworked, aging firefighters are forced to work without the proper safety equipment or working trucks and engines.
3. Road to bankruptcy paved in lies: While Gov. Rick Snyder was telling the public he was unsure whether Detroit was in a financial crisis, he and his staff were secretly planning to plunge the city into bankruptcy, despite federal laws requiring more transparency during the process. We obtained internal e-mails that showed city and state leaders communicated through a secret account and repeatedly deceived the public.
4. Dateline Australia looks to MCM for answers: Dateline Australia featured Muckraker founder Steve Neavling in a story about Detroit’s incremental resurgence. Neavling spoke about the fire crisis and underserved neighborhoods where abandonment, crime and poverty are rampant.
5. Cops suspended for shameful videos: Five Grosse Pointe cops were suspended after we disclosed videos that showed white officers mocking a black man with disabilities. The videos prompted structural changes at the police department and apologies from city officials, including the police chief.
6. Thieves tear apart Packard Plant in daylight: We spent several months investigating an organized scrapping ring that is endangering residents who live near the ruins. In addition to showing scrappers tearing down entire buildings with a backhoe, we followed the thieves to a scrapyard that knowingly accepted stolen metal.
7. Detroit spent $45 million on sidewalks to nowhere: The city burned through nearly $45 million on more than 27,000 curb ramps for people with disabilities. Many of the ramps will never be used because the sidewalks are impassable or sometimes nonexistent.