Greening the recession 

For those of you who haven’t noticed, Detroit’s greatest municipal prosperity in decades has come and gone. And Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is saddled with the city’s first major deficit — $95 million — since 1993, after the outgoing administration spent all the revenue there was, plus a little more. And how does the Kwamster aim to cure this mess? He’s freezing hiring and salaries, making departmental cuts, temporarily closing the zoo on Belle Isle and using casino revenue “to plug the hole,” as the mayor put it in his budget address to City Council last week

Because of the financial drama, News Hits was pleasantly shocked when the mayor spoke at length about beefing up the city’s environmental and health-code enforcement. Kilpatrick wants to take employees from planning and other departments and consolidate them in an Environmental Affairs Department to do things such as assess $10,000 fines for illegal dumping and address air and non-point-source pollution. Whoa! A mayor who lets the words non-point-source pollution roll off his tongue like butter! What’s next, parts per billion? For those who don’t know, such pollution is the stew of pesticides, car fuels, household toxins and other random pollutants that collect in rainwater and flow from drains into lakes and rivers. Kilpatrick says Detroit’s environmental officers and health inspectors will have authority to write citations. With 20,000 or so violations now backlogged in the courts, says Kilpatrick, moving toward civil enforcement will both expedite punishment and could allow the city to reap hefty fines. Using polluters to help balance the budget — ya gotta love it. Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail lcollins@metrotimes.com

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