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Monday, October 26, 2020

Corporations, PAC donate $180,000 to support Duggan’s controversial Detroit blight proposal

Posted By on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 1:49 PM

click to enlarge More than 20,000 vacant houses create blight in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • More than 20,000 vacant houses create blight in Detroit.

A committee raising money to support Mayor Mike Duggan’s controversial blight elimination proposal raised $180,000 in donations in one month from metro Detroit corporations and a political action committee.

Neighbors to End Blight Now is urging voters to support Proposal N, an initiative to sell $250 million worth of bonds to demolish 8,000 dilapidated homes and fix up another 8,000 salvageable houses. The bond proposal is on the Tuesday, Nov. 3 ballot.

The campaign received five large donations. Billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Rock Holdings donated $100,000 on Oct. 13, according to newly filed campaign finance records.

The Detroit Pistons Basketball Company and Detroit-based American Axle & Manufacturing each chipped in $25,000. The Realtors Political Action Committee of Michigan donated $20,000, its largest political contribution since April. And Priority Waste, a Clinton Township company that handles demolition debris, contributed $10,000.

The committee is run by State Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit. The treasurer is Oakland County Deputy Treasurer Jody Weissler DeFoe, of Southfield.

The committee spent roughly $17,500 on poll workers, $14,500 on consulting, $12,500 on phone banks, $7,000 on distributing campaign literature, $3,300 on yard signs, $3,000 on computer equipment $2,000 on robocalls, $2,000 on campaign software, and $650 on buttons, bumper stickers, and T-shirts.

Supporters of Proposal N also are relying on dark money from Our Neighborhoods First, a nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors. The nonprofit has spent as much as hundreds of thousand of dollars on TV and digital ads, mailers, texts, and billboards, Deadline Detroit reported.

Opponents of the bond proposal say the Duggan administration should not be trusted with the initiative because the city mishandled the demolition of more than 15,000 houses since 2014. That was financed by $265 million dollars in federal Hardest Hit Funds.

Health officials are also worried that demolitions are linked to elevated levels of lead in children.

Supporters say blighted homes increases crime, attract arsonists, and lower property values.

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