In our quest to leave no stone unturned when it comes to city and county government, Documenters last week dropped in on two agencies for the first time, the Detroit Promise Zone Authority and the Wayne County Airport Authority.
Meanwhile, on the roads, riders attending the monthly Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) Virtual Community Input Meeting once again expressed frustration with buses not arriving on time. Other attendees showed up with complaints about accessibility, raising the problem that cars still park at bus stops, blocking access for wheelchair users. Confusing signage doesn’t help the matter.
Also last week, Detroit City Council — aware that bus driver wages and hours are unattractive — proposed a new shiny benefit: child care assistance. The resolution passed unanimously, but it was effectively only a show of support. The council doesn’t have the power to implement this by decree. Council also took sides in the United Auto Workers strike — approving a resolution in support of the striking autoworkers.
For the rest of your weekly public meetings digest, read on.
The theme at last week’s Highland Park City Council meeting was “us versus them.” Should the city give priority to Highland Park residents, or should it recognize they are part of an interconnected region when it comes to political appointments, contracts and the sale of city-owned land?
Councilmember Khursheed Ash-Shafii wanted to know where appointees to the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority lived, asking for confirmation of home addresses for members of that board.
The co-founder and head roaster of Sepia Coffee Project, Martell Mason, said out-of-town developers are buying up land and buildings, and Highland Park residents like him are not getting their share.
A Detroiter who gave public comment struck a different tone, calling it unfair to say he can’t participate or do anything in Highland Park just because he doesn’t live there.
In his closing statement, Council President Jamal Thomas said most people in southeast Michigan don’t know where Highland Park begins or ends. Thomas, born and raised on the far eastside of Detroit, said the “us and them BS” needs to stop.
9/18/2023 Highland Park City Council
Documented by Mi’Joy Reed-Nash and Carole Hawke
9/19/2023 Detroit City Council, Formal Session: City Council approved a resolution in support of the United Auto Workers, and a resolution recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Documented by Amber Umscheid and Elyas Khan
It would seem DDOT buses are starting their routes on time but still running late. Bus performance statistics for July show a disconnect between a 93% pull-out rate and 63% on-time service, both during weekdays. Ansel Stewart, interim assistant director of operations at DDOT, said the agency has plans to make sure operators leave stops at scheduled times.
Other transit users had various complaints. At least a few riders are concerned about plans to discontinue the Route 12 Conant bus (see Page 12) as part of DDOT Reimagined.
Several people talked about wheelchair users not being able to access the bus when cars are parked at bus stops. A public commenter shared a photo of a bus stop sign that has a parking sign below it, perhaps leading to some confusion.
9/21/2023 Detroit Department of Transportation, Virtual Community Input Meeting
Documented by Alex Klaus and Roshaun Harris
9/15/2023 Detroit Promise Zone Authority, Board of Directors: Candidates were recommended to fill vacant board seats and will be voted on at the next meeting.
Documented by Tewonia Alamu
9/20/2023 Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Board of Water Commissioners: Approved $2.5 million for a backlog of catch basin cleanings and four new contracts totaling $45 million to replace lead service lines.
Documented by Eric McCormick and Jack Filbrandt
9/21/2023 Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department, 2022 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report: HRD staff provided an annual report on four housing programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grants Program and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.
Documented by Perry Sylvester
9/21/2023 Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: Two hundred fifty-six citizen complaint cases were improperly closed without investigation or sign-off; a motion to reinstate former staffer Melanie White was hotly debated. For more on the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, check out the latest BOPC Watch.
Documented by Heather Alder