Bankole: Email saga exposes Duggan’s shortfalls

Bankole Thompson

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan this week offered a ridiculous and laughable defense for the deleting of emails from government-issued computers, which was the focus of an explosive report from the city’s Office of the Inspector General. According to the mayor, the emails were deleted to “keep staff out of the circus.”

Duggan also tried to insinuate that his long, drawn-out war with local businessman Bob Carmack has had an impact on his administration, and that the emails related to the Make Your Date prenatal program were deleted in a panic because of public pressure from Carmack.

Mayor Mike Duggan on Tuesday said several trusted aides will undergo document management training in the wake of an independent investigation that found the workers abused their authority by directing lower-level staff to delete emails related to the controversial nonprofit Make Your Date.

The IG report found that the mayor had given the charity special treatment and that members of his administration were at fault for attempting a cover-up.

Duggan’s remedy is to offer his staff document-management training, including Alexis Wiley, his chief of staff, who was prominently cited in the report for ordering junior staff to delete emails.

At this point Duggan must think people are stupid. He admits his administration’s culpability, renders a convenient excuse, and then is ready to move on without any fundamental changes to prevent future recurrence.

Deleting those emails was an affront to democracy — an attempt to deny people access to information.

When you judge the practices of this administration, it can be found wanting in a number of areas regarding the need for greater transparency and how it navigates the issues facing many Detroiters.

These problems will persist until the press demands hard answers from Duggan and his administration about where the mayor is taking the city.

Duggan is no different than Kilpatrick, Dennis Archer, Dave Bing and any of the other elected leaders before him. The only difference is that he’s the first white mayor the city has had in 40 years.

Duggan continues to reign with impunity because he expects no real pushback.

The recovery of Detroit is more than skyscrapers and a massive influx of economic activity in the downtown area. The city’s comeback also requires an honest and transparent government. Demanding this transparency promotes good governance.

Duggan is not the savior of Detroit. He is a man who has been tasked to preside over the city’s economic revitalization, and to ensure that it is even for those who have been left behind. That responsibility, no matter how gigantic, should not inoculate him from criticism, especially given how few people are participating in the recovery.

We should call him out for his failings and tout his successes.

Most importantly, we need to stop treating Duggan like he is the savior of the city, and that whatever he says is gospel truth. At this point, we know he is governing with a blemished reputation.

Any government that restricts access to information deliberately weakens the people it is supposed to serve, and undermines its own legitimacy. That is what the email saga has shown. But Duggan seems to have brushed it aside.

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

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