Checking in on last year's state of the city goals and promises

Checking in on last year's state of the city
Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 17:41:03-05

(WXYZ) — Tonight Mayor Mike Duggan will address Detroiters for the annual State of the City. An opportunity to reflect on the year, the speech typically celebrates progress made, but also considers work still to come. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of last year’s priorities and promises: jobs, safety and education. What ended up coming to be?


Last March Duggan made jobs one of his top priorities. The centerpiece of the plan? A goal to bring 5,000 new jobs to Detroit with the expansion of Fiat Chrysler’s east side plant.

"We went to Chrysler and said we want to pitch you on putting the plant in the city of Detroit," the mayor said, explaining that a central goal for the city was a commitment to "creating job opportunities for everyone."

At the time of last year’s State of the City the deal had not yet been finalized. But nearly three months later — after a series of complicated land swaps — the ink was dry. While the deal has subsequently raised some eyebrows — specifically 7 Action News' finding that controversial land speculator Michael Kelly was released from $1.3 million in back taxes and 800 blight tickets in exchange for less than an acre of land — the city has stuck by the deal. They point to the 5,000 jobs.

So where do we stand today?

According to January 2020 data submitted to City Council this month by Nicole Sherard-Freeman, the executive director of Workforce Development: of the 5,000 Detroiters that completed applications, roughly 3,500 have been invited to first-round interviews with FCA for the roughly 4,200 production operator positions — the job city residents are specifically being targeted for.

The interviews, according to the letter, will take place this spring.

In short: Nearly a year later, it is impossible to say how many Detroiters will ultimately be employed with one of the 5,000 promised jobs. Additionally, while last year’s State of the City touted the fact that the FCA jobs would hire people at $58,000 a year, this salary is the average for the salaried and skilled positions — jobs that Detroiters are not specifically being targeted for. Production operators typically make, on average, $19 an hour.

FCA City Council Report Jan Follow Up CP Jones 2.7.20 by Allie Gross on Scribd

When it comes to safety, Duggan highlighted the city's declining crime rate but also pointed out that there was still work to be done. The mayor said he'd push for a $10 million budget increase for the police department, and 70 new positions. But that couldn’t be the city’s only crime fighting strategy.

"We are not going to change the direction by doing more of the same," Duggan told the crowd.

Enter the "Neighborhood Real-Time Intelligence Program." An off-shoot of Project Green Light, the initiative would add cameras to busy thoroughfares. Specifically, it proposed that the Detroit Police Department and the Department of Public Works would add a total of 450 cameras to high-traffic intersections by the end of 2020.

"These are the traffic cameras we’re putting up," said Duggan, "we will get shots of the perpetrators as they go past and we’ll be able to chase them down."

While the plan is moving forward — the Department of Public Works cameras went up last year and the DPD cameras were approved by City Council in November — it hit roadblocks this summer, when Detroit became a flash point in a national conversation about surveillance.

Before the traffic-camera initiative went to council, the board of police commissioners were asked to weigh in. They were given ordinances that dealt with the traffic cameras, but also the city’s use of facial recognition technology — a controversial tool the city spent over $1M buying in 2017 and can be used on any of the footage obtained via the various city-wide cameras.

While rules for facial recognition were ultimately approved in September by the board of police commissioners — nearly two years after the technology was purchased — the debate highlighted a shift in perspective since last year’s state of the city.


During the 57 minute speech last year Duggan spent less time on education than the year prior, but still made clear that this — as well as talent retention — was important.

"I don’t want any part of running schools, but I want to be a big supporter," said Duggan, announcing that the city would be expanding Detroit Promise, a program aiming provide Detroit high school graduates with the opportunity to attend two and four year colleges tuition-free. As he explained it last year, with the expansion scholarships would also be available to students pursuing skilled trade certification.

The Detroit Promise program is run by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. 7 Action News reached out to the Chamber of Commerce to find out how many Detroit graduates have taken advantage of this new addition. We were told this data is not typically calculated until the end of the school year, however.

"Data would not be final as we typically do not get this data until the end of the school year from the participating institutions," Kelly Sweeny, communications manager for the Detroit Regional Chamber wrote in an email.

The committeemen to higher-education and outcomes, however, took shape in other forms since last year's state of the city. In October Mayor Mike Duggan celebrated the creation of Wayne State University's Heart of Detroit tuition pledge, which promises free tuition to all graduating Detroit high school students.