(WXYZ) - About two dozen people watched a smiling Mike Duggan take a seat at the end of a long conference table in the offices of WJR radio Thursday night.
Like everyone else in the room, the only topic of concern was the up-to-the-minute score of the Tigers game, but with a 6-to-1 lead, the television was shut off and the discussion of the night--his exploration of a viable candidacy, and Duggan’s decision to run for Mayor of Detroit began.
He told members of the Detroit Chapter of the NABJ that he’d been spending a lot of time in the homes of Detroiters all around the city, asking 30 to 50 people at a time, if he ran, would they support him, and what would be important to them in the man or woman who won the job.
First subject: how the naysayers had counted the DMC and any urban hospitals out at the time he took the reins of the corporation that was hundreds of millions in the red?
”I looked at the numbers and saw opportunity,” Duggan said. "Our first year we made a decision--that we would provide quality care, and ignore those who said the best service wasn’t available in Detroit. We started with the emergency room. The promise to provide care in 29 minutes care came from a meeting where someone suggested, but not in a serious way, that DMC beat a 30 minute care claim made by a suburban hospital group."
“We didn’t build this with outside management. We have great talent here,” as Duggan named members of his team that were born and raised here. “We built around mission driven people who were committed to Detroit.”
Based on the many positions he’s taken on over the past three decades, Deputy Wayne County Executive at 28, prosecutor, and SMART director among them, Duggan now says he’s well schooled as “a turnaround guy!”, and that’s what Detroit needs, he says.
”When you say there’s no money, I have never in my life gone into a situation where people told me there was no money and it turned out to be true," says Duggan. "Human beings created these problems, human beings can solve them.”
What’s his model to bring the city back?
“My model is the Detroit Medical Center. Nobody thought DMC could go from losing a hundred million dollars five years in a row being profitable the first year. But, management is management. You recruit the right people to the right jobs, put put them behind a single strategy, you go to the community and say here’s what you can expect from us, and what you can’t. And you say to community groups he’s your role in all of this cause everyone is going to have to pitch in together," says Duggan.
About taxes needed to support the city in it’s turnaround?
“The public will part with a tax dollar if they believe their money will be spent wisely," says Duggan.
The Detroit police department?
“They’ve got 2,600 officers. Well under half of them are actually on the street in patrol cars. They are in the precincts, doing dispatch, taking reports, watching prisoners-- jobs that in most places are done by civilians," says Duggan.
"My whole life I feel I’ve had to work harder than the other guy prove myself. By now its just part of my nature," says Duggan. “I can convince most Detroiters that their quality of life will improve if I’m the Mayor."
”I’ve dealt with them every place I’ve been. SMART system, everybody was union. Everybody said it’s hopeless. I told them if we don’t get revenue to exceed expenses, we’re out of business. Every place I’ve ever been, the problem isn’t the workers, its management,” says Duggan.
Duggan says a mayor should be judged at the end of a term on population. He says he would work to convince people to stay in Detroit.
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