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On Duggan's State of the City speech

Big Mike's honeymoon.


  • Courtesy photo.

One thing that was obvious from Mayor Mike Duggan’s first State of the City Address last week is that Duggan is no silver-tongued devil. Now there are some folks who may consider him a devil nonetheless, but he isn’t pulling people along with his great oratory.

We had an orator in Kwame Kilpatrick, silver-tongued devil that he was to us.

Duggan’s oratory was functional, serviceable and pretty much to the point. He introduced his “team” to Detroiters, set his agenda and tried to calm a few nerves.

He used storytelling to illustrate a point about getting more buses on the street when he talked about a guy taking a two-hour bus ride to his job in Redford. And the closest he came to a bit of poetry in his prose was the proclamation that “change is starting, change is real, and Detroit is not nearly as far away from turning around as most people think.” 

Duggan knew that was his power line; he said it twice. And he had his moments, mostly when he made self-deprecating remarks such as “I hope I get this reception a year from now” after the opening applause. Duggan communicated his sense that the proof is in the pudding and that, after a year in office, people will have real evidence of where he is leading the city.

Just seven weeks into his tenure, it hardly seemed like the time to make a State of the City speech, but the timing was mandated by something other than his choice. And he is enjoying a double honeymoon — one the usual post-election bliss, the other comes from a sense that he is not really running the show with emergency manager Kevyn Orr in charge.

The mayor took that on too. He said that almost every day someone asks him, “Aren’t you discouraged? You’re the mayor of city that’s in bankruptcy, you don’t have control of your own destiny, and of course you’re not really the mayor; the emergency manager is in charge, right?”

He said he made the difficult decision to work with Orr and prepare for a smooth transition this fall rather than criticizing the EM for the next nine months.

Whether you like his decisions or not, Duggan at least seems straightforward about what he is up to. Maybe his honesty pledge is sincere. We’ll see what happens when the virtual crapola hits the fan. It’s going to happen at some point.

For the moment it’s the winter of love in Detroit’s government. Duggan praised the City Council, referring to President Brenda Jones as his “partner,” and r