Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was in full spin mode last week. But then again, when you’re laying off workers and cutting popular and needed city services like bus routes, you need all the spin you can get.
In an effort to cut city services without pissing off his constituents too much, the mayor has been holding meetings in Detroit neighborhoods to answer residents’ questions about next year’s hack-n-slash budget.
Good plan — answering residents’ questions is important at times like these.
Even more important is getting the answers right.
At Tuesday’s meeting in the Northwest Activities Center on Meyers Street, Kilpatrick made at least one notable error: When questioned on the impending shuttering of the Belle Isle Aquarium, the mayor said that the venerable institution cost the city $1 million dollars a year to run, and only brought in about $100,000.
We know the justifiably battered mayor doesn’t read Metro Times, but if he’d read last week’s issue, he could have learned what it actually costs to run the aquarium. According to last year’s budget, Belle Isle Aquarium had about $489,000 in operating expenses with about $155,000 in revenue. And, zoo director Ron Kagan says, the city hasn’t made any large-scale repairs to the aquarium since a $600,000 floor repair three years ago.
News Hits tried to contact mayoral mouthpiece Howard Hughey to find out what Kilpatrick meant, but he didn’t call back, leaving us only with questions: What was he talking about? Was he just plain wrong? And what else is he wrong about?
That’s a pretty wide margin for error. DJ Ice-Kwame was throwing around a lot of numbers. You can be sure News Hits will be at the next meeting, tape recorder in hand, to give the mayor’s information the once-over.
One last tidbit of interest from the meeting — Hizzoner repeated, often, that the $230 million budget shortfall isn’t anybody’s fault. Not his, certainly. He was generous enough to include former mayors Archer, Young, Cavanagh, etc., etc., in the list of people whose fault the budget shortfall isn’t. His generosity stopped short of including the media. Apparently, we’re somewhat to blame for the bottomless hole in the city treasury, or at least for letting people know about it. It’s really not as big a deal as we’re making it out to be, says the mayor, for whom we’re preparing a “The Buck Stops Nowhere” desk plaque. (That is, unless it’s a real buck, and it’s being passed to a family member or crony.)Send comments to [email protected]