Dec 6, 2022 - News

Mayor Mike Duggan calls Detroit City Council "dysfunctional"

Mayor Mike Duggan

Mayor Mike Duggan gives an interview after a news conference celebrating the completion of renovated affordable housing units. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Mayor Mike Duggan slammed the City Council yesterday when asked about the ongoing debate over the city's paratransit plan.

Driving the news: The Federal Transit Administration said the city's 70% reduction in paratransit services — due to a City Council vote last month that rejected contracts with a controversial transit company — violates federal law, the Detroit News reports.

  • "We're dealing with a dysfunctional City Council for the first time in nine years, I've got to get adjusted to that," Duggan told reporters at a press conference for an affordable housing development in Southwest Detroit. "I've been at DDOT every day, we're going through the options, spending time with lawyers."

Why it matters: Duggan's comments are a sharp departure from the rosy picture he typically paints regarding his relationship with City Council.

  • The alliance was crucial to repairing the city government's image coming out of bankruptcy in 2014 when Duggan took office. Public outbursts in years past had given the city a reputation — unfairly or not — that its elected leaders could not get along.

Between the lines: Duggan said yesterday there's "no explanation" for the council's decision to reject paratransit proposals knowing it put services at risk.

Reality check: Council members had several public discussions about the paratransit provider's poor track record.

  • Riders and advocates demanded members turn down the proposed $49.2 million contracts, arguing there's no reason to believe French-based Transdev would improve services that have been reported as inadequate for years.
  • Transdev has been accused of long delays, sexual misconduct from drivers, skipped rides and difficulties reporting problems.

What they're saying: Detroit's Department of Transportation has an obligation, both directly as a public entity and as a recipient of federal funding, to ensure that ADA paratransit service continues uninterrupted, an FTA administrator wrote in a letter obtained by the News.

What's next: The city has to now put out another request for paratransit bids, which will take at least three months and potentially open the city to litigation and investigation by the federal government.

  • City Council President Mary Sheffield told the News they are considering calling a special session to deal with the fallout from the rejected contract.

The intrigue: Duggan is looking to exercise his executive powers to find a solution later this week, a spokesperson for the mayor tells Axios.


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