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Note: The year Mayor Mike Duggan took office, 2014, has been corrected.

In the last two months, the most important issue for Detroiters has been the $600 million over-taxation of homeowners. Hundreds of worried and frustrated Detroiters have been showing up at community meetings to register their legitimate discontent over the unfair and unacceptable overassessment that took place from 2010-2016.

Instead of offering an answer to an economic crisis that has angered many black homeowners, Mayor Mike Duggan in his 2020 State of the City address failed not only to provide a comprehensive solution, but also to take responsibility for the crisis. He wasn’t even remorseful.

True to form, as is the case with leaders who like to run from responsibility when confronted with their failures, Duggan was blaming the administration of former Mayor Dave Bing for the overassessment. He forgot that he has been mayor since 2014, which includes the years that the overassessment took place.

At some point you have to wonder if Duggan, the first white mayor in 40 years, really cares about black people. Because he has ignored the sea of African Americans raising hell over this issue at community forums and demanding to be made whole.

Tuesday night Duggan arrogantly brushed away their concerns, saying he'll make sure it never happens again. But he really didn’t explain how he would go about cutting the check many homeowners still want.

“What this tells me is that the mayor does not care about the people who have been displaced in the city," said Agnes Hitchcock, leader of the activist group, Call 'Em Out Coalition. "What he is thinking about is downtown and Midtown. This is his responsibility. It happened under his watch."

Hitchcock and several concerned residents are planning a demonstration Friday in front of City Hall to demand that Duggan step up to the plate and compensate them for lost wealth in homeownership.

“We need our homes and neighborhoods. We are the majority, and we should benefit from the taxes that are paid not the developers and those who are moving in for tax breaks," Hitchcock said. "As black people we deserve to benefit from the city we built.”

“As a Nun on the Bus who travels the nation demanding tax justice, the theft of $600 million from Detroiters through overtaxation shakes me to the core,” said Sister Simone Campbell, one of the leading Catholic social justice voices, and an authority for tax justice. “This robbery is an attack on the common good. It undermines faith in government and further exploits people of color already being hurt by this unjust system.”

The PuLSE Institute has invited Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group and leader of the National Tour for Tax Justice to keynote a national symposium on the issue on March 26. The forum will be at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College District, where Campbell is expected to place the overtaxation of Detroiters in a national context.

Each day that Duggan waits out the crisis of the overassessment is a day he exposes his own failings as leader of a majority black city.

Solomon Kinloch, the senior pastor of Triumph Church, called the overtaxation a grave moral crisis unfolding before our eyes and challenged members of the Detroit clergy to step up and add their voices to the public outcry for redress. 

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.

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