In 2009, I chose to run for Detroit City Council because I believed that we could bring a new direction that Detroiters trust. Voters granted me the honorable privilege to serve as the Council President Pro Tem for the past 42 months.
As an elected official, my focus has always been on improving public safety, educating our kids and operating a fiscally-responsible government that delivers quality services. I believed -- and still believe today -- that these three areas are necessary in creating a thriving environment for residents and businesses.
When Governor Rick Snyder appointed an Emergency Manager in the City of Detroit, I began considering if the role on City Council or another role would best place my skills to work on those three areas mentioned above for the betterment of Detroit. Because the challenges facing Detroit are as much about addressing the finances as they are about managing the current resources.
In April 2012, I partnered with council colleagues to craft a consent agreement with the State of Michigan to afford us the tools and accountability to address our fiscal challenges. However, the political will in the city did not exist in order to have Detroit's elected officials lead implementation of the necessary reforms.
Under the Public Act 436 law, City Council's power is limited in scope and the legislative responsibilities do not provide any authority over city departments, and thus does not afford the opportunity to affect change in the areas of public safety and city services.
When the opportunity arose to serve in a leadership role in restructuring operations with the City of Detroit, I seriously considered it. This includes thoughtful contemplation for continuing my current role as Council President Pro Tem for the remainder of the year. However, each day that implementation of restructuring is not done; it makes turning around the city that much more difficult. Therefore, we must act now.
I have chosen to resign my position on Detroit City Council as President Pro Tem effective July 1 and accept a new role in the Emergency Manager's office with the City of Detroit. This position affords the opportunity to focus more heavily on the pivotal areas I mentioned above where Detroiters will feel the greatest positive impact.
With the knowledge, skills and ability I have acquired over the past decades in both the public and private sectors, this opportunity was the perfect fit in my effort to provide meaningful service to all Detroiters.
Your support and that of other Detroiters has made the following possible during my tenure as Detroit City Council President Pro Tem.
During the past three-and-a-half years, I collaborated with my council colleagues to restore unity, order and dignity to Detroit City Council and address the city's most urgent challenges.
As the Chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee, I partnered with the Bing Administration to improve public safety by leading the charge to pass and adopt the Secondary Employment program ordinance, allowing off-duty police officers to work private security in order to increase police presence without added cost to the city. A number of businesses, block clubs, community associations and community groups are utilizing this program.
I also joined the Bing Administration and Wayne County Officials to lure more than a Billion Dollars in economic development by enabling the Detroit Medical Center to merge with the Vanguard Medical Corporation.
Prior to this, soon after I became a Councilman, I supported the strip club ordinances that would improve the health and safety of employees and customers, as well as nearby residents and businesses, by licensing club employees and enhancing restrictions on and monitoring of operations. Standing with council colleagues this action took place in early 2010.
I worked with the Administration to fast-track the vacant housing demolition program by suspending random demolitions in favor of the clustering process. I was a tenacious advocate for utilizing more than $20 Million from the City's fire escrow account to further impact the safety and well-being of Detroiters by demolishing even more dangerous structures in our neighborhoods.
I have been fiscally-responsible, leading the attack to reduce the annual budget and structural deficit, prioritize core services, and urge contractors to cut their costs. I often recommended balanced budgets to colleagues and the Administration that lessened operating costs and prioritized services with a focus on public safety, trash pick-up and the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD).
In terms of City Council, I was the first to advocate for a 35% council budget reduction and while serving as Councilman I have never used a city-owned car, city purchased gas or city purchased auto insurance.
I served on DWSD's Root Cause Committee to restructure the department. This committee has been instrumental in reducing environmental violations, creating a stronger governance structure that retains Detroit ownership of the system, and integrating efficiencies. This effort resulted in the lowest annual water rate increase in the past 10 years. In March, federal Judge Sean Cox released the federal oversight of DWSD largely due to the work of the Root Cause Committee and the department's new director.
As an advocate for education, my council office adopted Bethune Fitzgerald Academy on Detroit's northwest side in the fall of 2010. The objective was to spearhead a pilot reading program and to improve the environment, thus allowing teachers and staff the capacity to focus on academics. We led efforts to create partnerships with the corporate and philanthropic communities to have the school cleaned regularly, added security measures, school uniforms for students that were donated, and received donated school equipment.
I have continued supporting other schools in these areas since Bethune Fitzgerald transferred from DPS to the State's Educational Achievement Authority (EAA).
We partnered with military and veterans affairs officials from federal, state, and local agencies, as well as representatives from corporations, non-profits and associations, to connect Detroit's veterans to available federal, state and local resources as well as job opportunities. It has been quite an honor to serve as the Founding Chair of the Detroit City Council Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force.
Since March 2011, I have proudly served on the National League of Cities, Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Advocacy Committee. This committee provides public safety advocacy on behalf of cities to the federal government.
I want to thank the Detroit voters and supporters who put their faith in me as Councilman. I will need your continued prayers for the difficult days ahead. Many unpopular and necessary decisions must be made to return Detroit to its prominent position. I am fully committed to the task at hand!
With that said, I want to express gratitude to my colleagues for their collaboration, partnership and expertise exhibited daily at the council table. It has been truly an honor to serve on Detroit City Council with them.
I look forward to this new role as we will build the future Detroit.