Q: If elected in the May special run-off election, and, assuming you are among the two finishers in the August primary, what three things can you promise to accomplish before the November run-off election?
A: By the November run-off election, I will have accomplished the following:
1. Have developed a comprehensive crime abatement strategy that specifies the role community members (clergy, citizens, law enforcement, school officials, DEA, etc.) must play to abate crime. Additionally, I will have:
2. Made significant progress reengineering Detroit City government. Business process re-engineering involves an in-depth examination and restructuring of all City processes to increase efficiency and streamline operations. The process will enable the City of Detroit to identify waste and abuse. It will also allow me to identify millions of dollars that are being misused and instead use those dollars to provide better services to citizens and help reduce the estimated $200 million deficit. During the re-engineering process, I will alleviate redundancy, increase efficiency, and install policies, practices, and monitoring mechanism to ensure integrity in all aspects of government.
3. Re-invented the City of Detroit's Law Department and charged it with developing a legal strategy designed to reduce lawsuits, improve service delivery, reduce costs, and improve effectiveness. I am very displeased with the City's Law Department. I will have taken steps to dramatically improve the department's capacity and capability. I will also have charged the department with: 1) Examining Michigan's Respondeat Superior Law as a means of reducing Detroit's exposure to lawsuits; 2) Reviewing the City Council deal in 2005 with Mattie Moroun that gave him a 100-year monopoly over the city's ports in exchange for a $2 million bond default bailout; 3) Gaining control over the City's Water Department, since Detroit has fulfilled the requirements of the consent decree according to Judge Feiken. (Feiken reached beyond his jurisdiction in his latest actions, since Detroit should have been released from the consent decree. I will have sought nullification of the 53-page water-management sharing agreement Feiken ratified on December 18, 2008, on the basis he had no jurisdiction to oversee such an agreement. I will have held a series of public meetings to allow citizens to review and comment upon the agreement structured under Feiken's direction, considering it as a great starting point for negotiations. Once public comment had concluded and Detroiters and its leadership fully understood the implications of each provision of the agreement, I will have commenced negotiations with surrounding municipalities); and 4) Enact a policy to hold former landowners (persons or entities that owned property before it was seized by the City) responsible for demolition costs associated with destroying their dilapidated buildings.
Established practices to ensure government contracting is open and transparent. I will have implemented public bid openings, contract compliance guidelines, disclosure requirements for any City government employee or official intervening in contracting matters, and ensure the presence of highly-trained contract compliance officers. I will also have implemented monitoring mechanisms to ensure contracting officers and officials comply with established policies and procedures.
5. Commenced a study to determine the value of providing preferred status for City residents employed by the City of Detroit. The study will seek to ascertain the following: How many City employees are non-residents and the total payroll earned by non-resident employees as a percentage of total payroll. I would also seek to discover how many Detroit residents work for other City governments in the region, the payroll dollars earned by those Detroiters represented as a percentage of each municipality's total payroll.
6. Made significant progress implementing a Total Quality Management (TQM) Program for every area of government.
7. Made significant progress ensuring the Detroit Police Department has a plan for implementing a system and practices for meticulously tracking seized goods and evidence. I would also look to secure funds from the Obama administration to restore the crime lab to top operating condition. I would also implement a quality program to ensure evidence collection and crime scene management techniques are of the highest quality.
8. Have completed a request for the stimulus package dollars to be released by the Obama Administration.
9. Have discussed with the Board of Education and the Head of the State's Education Department a plan to improve education. (See website blog). I will discuss with them a new approach that involves a business person heading the school system.
Q: Depending on who is doing the estimating, the city of Detroit faces a potential budget deficit of $100 million to $200 million by the end of this fiscal year in June. Name three specific cuts you'd make to help balance the budget and the savings they'd achieve.
A: I would definitely reduce the number of mayoral appointees. (I believe this point was first made by me during my first mayoral debate but has since been excerpted by other candidates.) I also intend to streamline and balance the budget by improving resource utilization (personnel and otherwise), terminating contracts for convenience (T4C) that are not in the interest of citizens and improving efficiency. I will complete the business process re-engineering before undertaking cuts, since cuts may not be necessary once the process is completed.
Q: The city of Detroit continues to lose thousands of residents a year. Name one innovative program that you'd implement to reverse that trend.
A: I would implement an incremental tax roll-back plan. My goal is to issue property owners a credit when taxes raised in the prior year exceed the specified target. The goal is to: 1) Make Detroit more attractive to those contemplating relocating to Detroit by presenting a plan for lowering taxes, 2) Reduce the tax burden placed on residents and stop flight, and 3) Use the projected increase in tax revenue resulting from an increase in residents to establish a rainy day fund and incrementally reduce the deficit. (Visit my website at www.motownmayor.com for more details.)
Q: Do you think Detroit should continue to send garbage to its waste-to-energy incinerator?
A: While I am very concerned about the toxins being emitted and the cost of incineration services, I would garner public input on the matter before making a final decision. Consequently, I would hold a series of public meetings to discuss alternative refuse disposal methods and related issues/concerns, including the estimated cost per resident. I would also explore the environmental and cost implications of the various alternatives from a citizen point of view. Once my administration made a decision, we would notify the public, allow public comment, and develop a plan for transitioning to the selected option.
Q: To reduce dependence on foreign oil and address the problem of climate change, President-elect Obama is promising that the federal government will make significant expenditures to promote the development of green technologies and energy-efficiency programs. What would you do as mayor to help Detroit become a leader in the "green economy"?
A: I am excited about the prospect of leading the way with green technologies. Detroit has acres and acres of land that we could use to produce product for ethanol production. I would like to explore building a National Green Technology Institute that educates citizens on green technologies and prepares them to provide a host of "green" services, including the manufacture and installation of solar panels, participation in ethanol production and exploration, etc.
Q: Can you recount a difficult situation that required you to display a high degree of personal integrity?
A: Every situation in my life requires me to display a high-degree of integrity. I found $900 in an envelope on the floor while standing in a grocery line. I asked the lady in front of me if she had lost any money. She said yes. I told her to tell me how much and describe the package. She described the package and I returned the money. She and her friends thanked me and prayed for me in the store. Also, I had a very lucrative, multi-million dollar federal contract that government officials sought to divert to their friend. When I fought back, the agency secretly scoured my life and business with a fine tooth comb, hoping to find wrongdoing. After two audits and multiple investigations, they did not find even one penny that had been improperly billed or used. Everyone who knows me knows that I am a stickler for doing things in a manner that is fair, right and ethical.
Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes you've made in your life, and what did you learn from it?
A: I had a full paid scholarship to go to University of Michigan and I turned it down. I learned that age brings with it a certain amount of wisdom (smile).
Q: Name one of your favorite books (other than the Bible). Why is it significant?
A: My favorite book is The Physics of Money: If You've Got My Dollar, I Don't. I wrote the book after certain federal officials diverted my multi-million dollar contract to their friend and then proceeded to destroy my firm. The book was wholly written by me and has been called one of the best books ever written for Black America. I think the book is extremely relevant and provides content for strong contemplation. During a book signing at a University, a recent graduate came in holding the book to her chest, crying. She hugged me and told me the book had changed her life. I have had so many people say so many great things about the book, which I enjoy reading from time to time. (The book is available at Truth Bookstore and Globe Bookstore in Detroit.)
Q: Tell us what one of your favorite movies is, and why it is that you like it so much.
A: I love Appollo 13. I have always thought of developing an executive management seminar based upon the movie. Apollo 13 is about a lunar-landing mission that went wrong. Two days after the mission was launched on April 11, 1970, the spacecraft was severely damaged by an explosion. When the mission crew began to detail all the seemingly impossible obstacles to bringing the crew home safely, Mission Control Flight Director Gene Krantz uttered two of my most favorite lines: "Failure is not an option, "and "Work the problem folks, work the problem." That has always reflected my management approach: Work the problem folks, work the problem. Personally, I have always subscribed to the belief that failure is not an option, especially when you do your homework upfront.
Q: Is there a piece of music or work of art that moves you deeply? Tell us why.
A: There are several musical scores that move me deeply. My favorite classical piece is Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. I love the energy and variation in the musical score. My favorite gospel song is Change by Tremaine Hawkins. The song reflects my personal spiritual journey. My favorite secular song is Devotion by Earth, Wind and Fire. It is a secular song that has such a strong spiritual message. I also love the Sound of Music score; so do my adult children. The Sound of Music gives me an instant lift.
Q: What was your nickname as a kid?
A: I grew up at 2420 Townsend and it was the most wonderful place in the whole world. I spent most evenings at Belle Isle, went to the State Fair every year, took music lessons at Grinnell's downtown, and spent many days in the back halls of Cass Technical High School. I also won several school-level Detroit News spelling bees, made many visits to the Indian Reservation on Warpool Island, frequented Canada, played baseball and marbles with friends, and participated in girl scout functions. I loved my neighborhood and my neighborhood loved me. My least liked nickname was peanut.That's what my brother called me.
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