Sen. Coleman Young unveils plan for Detroit
Detroit — State Sen Coleman A. Young on Monday released his “comprehensive plan to restore Detroit,” which includes plans for legal action on high insurance rates, potential school closures and reinstating residency requirements for the city's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Young, the son of Detroit’s first African American mayor, is the most high-profile challenger of incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan in the August primary election. Six other candidates will also appear on the Aug. 8 ballot.
Young, during a brief appearance Monday at his campaign headquarters on Livernois, said he intends to work with the state. But if he can't achieve what he's hoping for, he won't hesitate to take his fight to the courts.
"I'm not going to just sit by and do nothing if the state continues to drag their feet and discriminate or not serve in the best interest of the city of Detroit," he said. "Therefore, if we cannot come up with agreements, I'll be filing lawsuits."
Young said auto insurance rates in the city are "racist red-lining" and need a mandatory rollback. He said he's interested in filing a lawsuit against insurance companies over the issue and that it should be a national class-action suit filed in partnership with other big city mayors.
Second, Young took aim at the state over Detroit's public school closures, saying they need to find common ground because "they are closing so many schools that we may not have a school district left." He was critical of the lack of accountability over charter schools that are "cannibalizing on our school district."
"... if the state continues to close these schools because of policies that they have passed, I will take them to court," he said.
Finally, Young said he wants to sue the state to force reinstatement of residency requirements for Detroit's police, fire and emergency personnel because the lack of such a mandate presents a "national security crisis."
"... God forbid if we were to have a terrorist attack in the city of Detroit we have some police officers and firefighters who live so far away from the city that they would not be able to respond in time if something were to happen," he said. "The way the residency law is set up now you can live almost as far as Ohio if you wanted to. I definitely think that's a major concern and I want to file a lawsuit based on national security reasons to bring residency back to Detroit."
House Republican spokesman Gideon D’Assandro said Young’s plan may get him noticed, but proposing alternatives as a lawmaker could have helped him further.
“This may get him some attention now, but he probably would have had a better chance of making an impact if he had brought up alternatives and policy suggestions over the past few years while he’s been here in the Legislature.”
Senate GOP spokeswoman Amber McCann declined Monday to wade into campaign comments for Detroit’s mayoral race.
Young introduced residency requirement legislation earlier this year but it hasn’t moved out of committee. He also introduced insurance legislation dealing with insurance policies, which did not address redlining.
Young’s eight-page blueprint for revitalizing the city was unveiled to the media in front of about a dozen supporters and staffers at his campaign headquarters.
"The people have been abandoned for far too long," Young said, taking a dig at Duggan in his opening remarks. "That's why I'm running for mayor. That's why I'm presenting this comprehensive plan in order to transform Detroit and more importantly in order to bring economic development back to these neighborhoods because the people have been abandoned for far too long."
Alexis Wiley, Duggan’s chief of staff, pointed Monday to accomplishments of the Duggan administration, including sending 8,000 Detroit youth to work and opening 16 Summer Fun Centers in every council district.
“The difference between Sen. Young and Mayor Duggan could not be more clear,” she said.
mong his proposals, Young said he wants to install a skyTran system, "an elevated transit that uses electromagnetic power for personal rapid transit that carries 2 person pods," according to his campaign literature.
"I believe transportation should go more than 3.3 miles," said Young, in reference to the newly opened and privately funded QLine street car system. "What about the rest of the neighborhood? Mass transit is definitely something that we need."
Young also said he wants to "treat violence like a virus" and send a resolution to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to obtain data about where crimes are starting and then be able to stop them. He also shared plans to expand the Detroit Police Department's mini-stations and provide job services, crisis counseling and post traumatic stress disorder services.
He pushed skilled trade education programs in the city's public schools, permitting centers for small businesses to cut costs and legally binding community benefits agreements for projects being done in the city. He also spoke of creating a one-stop-shop permitting center for small businesses to streamline the process and make it more affordable.
Young made clear he didn't want to run the schools, but he does want to work with the district on plans for longer school days and school years. He said he wants to designate certain buildings for wrap-around services for job training, tax preparation, health care and trade school programming.
He also wants to empower neighborhoods to take action against blight violators and intends to deputize block club captains to issue citations for violations of open, dangerous and vacant building ordinances.
Detroit News Staff Writer Jonathan Oosting contributed