Mayor Duggan secretly worked with EM to abolish state-mandated transparency law

Orr & Duggan
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Mayor Mike Duggan


When Mike Duggan was running for mayor of Detroit last year, he took a decidedly anti-emergency manager position, saying he will work “to push the emergency manager out on the first day I am in office and return Detroit to its elected officials.”

As mayor, Duggan has done anything but. Most recently, the mayor’s administration secretly lobbied Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to use his unprecedented authority to abolish state-mandated Citizens District Councils just before Orr relinquished his powers last month, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

Mayor Duggan has been tight-lipped about development in Brush Park.
Mayor Duggan has been tight-lipped about development in Brush Park.

And when asked about it, his office suggested the mayor wasn’t involved and has no influence over the emergency manager’s orders, which can suspend laws because of the city’s financial condition.

Duggan “accepts reality as it is and moves on,” mayoral spokesman John Roach said in an email.

But since being told that sources confirmed that the mayor was in fact involved, Duggan’s office has declined to answer any questions about the issue or discuss the extent of the mayor’s involvement with the emergency manager.

This isn’t about the effectiveness of the CDCs, which required public input and transparency on private development at a neighborhood level. It’s about a mayor misleading the public.

Duggan has tried to distance himself publicly from Gov. Rick Snyder and state intervention, but e-mail records from 2011 show Duggan privately advised state officials on how best to handle the financial takeover and said he’d be a supportive partner of an emergency manager, if elected mayor. Duggan testified Monday that he was asked by Snyder to be the city’s emergency manager several years ago.

One of the mayor’s closest friends and former classmates, ex-Treasurer Andy Dillon, was the top state official in charge of the state intervention process.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

Since taking office Jan. 1, Duggan has been tight-lipped about private development. Now with the elimination of the CDCs, the mayor has fewer transparency requirements.

“Our city has lost a quality instrument for ensuring residents have a voice of any kind regarding development in their neighborhoods,” said Rev. Dean P. Simmer, vice-chairman of Corktown Citizens District Council.

Under the new charter, the city is required to have Community Advisory Councils, which on the surface are similar to CDCs. But they represent much larger areas and aren’t as stringent with transparency.

“Citizen District Councils are much broader,” Jeniece Mitchell Ford, who served as chair of the Charter Commission, told HuffPost earlier this year. “They are two different creatures. There is no competition.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Krystal King

    Thanks for the article Steve!

    To those who speak on turning a blind eye because they hit a light switch! Turning a blind eye will make KMK’s sentence look like life with no chance of parole! Why is it cool for the current administration to do whatever for the sake of ONLY a few square miles but when KMK did the same thing for the whole city it was a problem?

  • Edward Chesher

    Must. Stop. Clicking. On. This. Link.

    Tired of the gossip/anonymous info provided by disgruntled employees. Houses are getting torn down, owners being held responsible for properties owned, lights are getting installed at a rapid pace, trash is getting picked up, dumping is getting cleaned up, downtown is becoming a real downtown. Yet still, people bitch.

  • Michele

    let’s put aside whether or not Duggan had anything to do with repealing these laws, if he doesn’t reinstate them then that alone makes him complicit. if there’s a bad law on the books or a good law missing, let’s remedy that now that you’re in control, Mr. Mayor.

  • Does anyone else think Orr and Duggan look alike in the side-by-side?

  • Matthew Kaufman

    Why don’t we throw a competent leader who’s making change under the bus in the name of clickbait? Bravo Steve, bravo. I liked it better when you were trashing Grosse Pointe for shutting off Detroit with a literal wall or the police harassing a mentally challenged man. Everyone was happy to be part of that. Derailing progress through creating drama that doesn’t need to exist is certainly not moving this city forward.

    • Guest

      You’re so far up Duggans butt that you refuse to accept that he did abolish the CDC’s.

  • shavers313


    “But since being told that sources confirmed that the mayor was in fact
    involved, Duggan’s office has declined to answer any questions about the
    issue or discuss the extent of the mayor’s involvement with the
    emergency manager.”

    Who are your sources?

    • Cassandra InDetroit

      A good reporter Never, Ever reveals its sources if/when they wish to remain anonymous. Besides, if you do …how long will you have that or any other #source. duh ~

      • shavers313

        Maybe my statement was to direct. But these sources he is referring to. Are they in the mayor office? Are they with the state? How can we really trust his “sources”? He could be lying as far as I can be concern. lol

        • Cassandra InDetroit

          A trusted true-reporter usually has the information verified by documentation for the sake of their own reputation. To report on un-verified info is to commit journalistic suicide ~
          That’s just the way it is and as things unfold, the public will know that it was reported by them!

  • Adaj Parr

    Steve, if this is a new beginning, I welcome it with open arms and hope you continue on reporting as you have years back. Duggan and his staff mislead the community on many other issues. This was an obvious actions that now have been confirmed. Steve, the community thanks you wholeheartedly. Please continue and follow up as we know you can!

  • shavers313

    Politics at it’s best! I don’t know how I feel about this, but let me play devils advocate. If Mayor Duggan continues to improve the lives of Detroiters, would you turn your eye on these back door deals? Or say something about it?

    • Cassandra InDetroit

      Mayor Duggan is out to make life better for #GovernorDuggan, God forbid ~

  • bebow

    We’ve been reduced to a point where it’s necessary to import shady leaders, because what we have left here, after forty years of educational genocide, is a corrupt, incompetent, tiny inbred cluster of ruling elites. Duggan, at least, doesn’t seem to be incompetent. So, some of what he does might inadvertently work in our favor, but make no mistake, he doesn’t identify with the majority of residents and isn’t focused there. The lying and sliding around behind the scenes is telling.

    • shavers313

      If Mayor Duggan continues to improve the lives of Detroiters, would you
      turn your eye on these back door deals? Or say something about it?

      • bebow

        Mayor Duggan hasn’t improved my life. The lying and sliding around behind the scenes are evidence of negative intentions. This time, others will be subjected to selection. Would I say something? I just did.

        • shavers313

          What exactly are you looking for? It’s different for ever Detroiter.

          • bebow

            No, Shavers, it’s different for “unselected” Detroiters. What I’m looking for is equal access.

          • shavers313

            Fair enough! lol

          • bebow

            Why do you lol?

          • shavers313

            I’m not quite sure what you mean

          • bebow

            You wrote lol at the end of your response above. What’s funny?

          • shavers313

            Your answer was refreshing and amusing to me. That’s why I lol. I wasn’t expecting that answer. lol

          • Cassandra InDetroit

            It is fair enough to ask for equal access and Detroiters are being shut out at every turn. Do you know what it’s like to live in a pitch black neighborhood at night? …while Mid Town, Downtown and Palmer Woods enjoy splendid brights? Back door chit our District Counsel could scream #foul about ~