About 50 percent of the city's $1.8 billion general fund budget is spent on salaries and benefits. Is there a way to address an accumulated deficit of at least $300 million and avoid the risk of insolvency without significantly reducing those worker costs? If not, by what percentage overall do you think they should be cut?
There have to be some worker costs from elected officials, appointees and union employees. This turnaround has to have input from everyone. We need to look at cutting city council budgets, benefit packages and salaries of appointees .
Do you have any other ideas as to how the city can either significantly cuts costs or raise revenue?
To cut cost and provide revenue, the city can:
Move to E-filing. We are the only major city that does not have E-Filing. We file our federal and state income tax returns electronically, why not with the City of Detroit.
The city needs to sell or give a way property to residents and businesses to get properties back on the tax roll.
We need to get a handle on our overtime costs, healthcare costs and risk management.
We have recreation centers that have been closed but there are faith based organization and community groups who are willing to lease these buildings an open them for community use.
The water department cannot be the only department that is an enterprise agency. We must make some capital improvements to the lighting department and the city airport.
Would you support changing Detroit's city charter to allow district elections for some or all Council members?
The Detroit International Bridge Co. is attempting to purchase a section of Riverside Park so that it can build a new span adjacent to the Ambassador Bridge. At the same time, a publicly owned bridge is being planned for the Delray area. Explain your support for or objection to each plan.
The portion of Riverside Park the DIBC wants to purchase is not currently being used. That portion of the park is in close proximity to an area closed off near one of the bases of the bridge. Even it the DIBC does not purchase the property to build a second span, there needs to be something done to keep that area secured in light a potential act of terrorism. I do support a second span and want to do more research on which option is better.
The City Council has twice voted to send the city's trash to landfills instead of the incinerator, and is exploring its legal options in an attempt to make that happen. The administration, meanwhile, is considering purchasing at least a share of the facility, and possibly all of it. As a council member, would you support or oppose continued use of the incinerator?
There is currently a contract with GRRDA and research has to be done in order for the city to be relieved of its responsibilities. I believe there are advantages to the incinerator, landfills and recycling. I would want to explore all options.
Given the city's fiscal crisis, what, if anything, would you do as a council member to help support the arts and culture in the city?
Having a degree in the arts and of course a lover of the arts, I do support them and see the importance of having our citizens be exposed to the arts. I especially see the need for our children to have that exposure. Seeing our budgetary constraints, we have to move with those services that absolutely required by the citizens of the city.
What have you done personally or professionally to help advance civil rights, regional cooperation, race relations, poverty reduction, pro-environmental efforts, or any other similarly significant cause?
I am and have been fortunate to serve on several community boards that advocate civil rights, deals with poverty and race relations. My roll on the 2005 Detroit School Board Transition Team, the Wayne County Brownfield Development and the Wayne Economic Development Cooperation has afforded me the opportunity to work with residents and our suburban neighbors. I have recently served on the Supermarket Taskforce M.O.S.E.S.
As a council member, what could you do to help Detroit capitalize on the burgeoning green economy?
I see the role Green jobs and Green technology as essential to the city's future. Because of the decline of the manufacturing industry, we have the infrastructure in place that is not being used that can now be rehabilitated and updated for Green use. Detroit has the support of our educational institutions to prepare potential employees and lastly, Detroit has a number of resources like an abundance of land and near an international waterway.
What innovative ideas do you have in regard to dealing with the massive amounts of vacant and abandoned property in Detroit?
Some ideas need not be innovative but are right in front of us. We need to get some of the property into the hands of our residents and businesses. We can get properties back on the tax roll creating revenue. The idea of creating additional green space is gaining momentum and an idea I would be in favor of exploring
Name one of your favorite movies about politics? What is it about this movie that made an impression?
My favorite movie about politics is "Street Fight." This movie is about Corey Booker who ran for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. He lost in his first bid but won the second time around. It showed the old regime versus the new, an established homegrown well loved incumbent versus a Stanford graduate who was a first time city councilperson who did not grow up in the streets of New Jersey. It mirrors some of the leadership challenges we have in Detroit and what could possibly be when new leadership is elected.
What book dealing with politics or government — either fiction or nonfiction — would you recommend others read? Why?
The book I recommend in dealing with politics is "Vernon Can Read." It is a book by Vernon Jordan and his journey in working in the public and private sector. It also shows his rise to be the head of the 1992 Clinton Transition Team for President Bill Clinton.
What piece of music (other than Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On,") has affected you in a political, moral or social sense? Please explain why.
The song that has affected me in a political, moral and social sense is "Give the People What They Want" by the O'Jays. I listen to this song for motivation as I have campaigned throughout the city. The title of the song speaks for itself. It also speaks to the fact the people want change, things to get better, freedom justice. The song goes on the say the people want better education, food and more money. This song epitomizes what I believe the people are saying and wanting.
What question should have been included in this, but wasn't? And what would your answer to that question be?
I appreciated every questions presented and deemed them all important.
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