By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker
When a news agency requests a readily accessible document, transparent governments typically hand over the record in a timely fashion.
But when Motor City Muckraker requested a copy of the public Red Wings development agreement, which spells out how $250 million in taxes will be spent on a new arena and entertainment district near downtown, a private PR firm intervened.
We first asked Mayor Mike Duggan’s office for a copy of the agreement this week but were passed on to Mort Crim Communications, which handles public records requests for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), a quasi-public group that controls the sale of valuable, city-owned property.
The downtown-based firm demanded a Freedom of Information Act request, which could stall the release of the document by three weeks. We promptly filed the request, which comes one day after the Ilitch family announced the publicly funded arena would be named, “Little Caesars Arena.”
Although construction of the arena is on time, the promised investments and developments around it are woefully behind. The agreement we are seeking spells out the timetables for those investments and developments.
In April, we revealed that the DEGC sold the Tiger Stadium site for $1 without any public input.
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.