A Wayne State University Law School audience was privy to a few insights about Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration from the city’s corporation counsel, Melvin “Butch” Hollowell.
• Mayor Mike Duggan’s cabinet meetings are Wednesdays, and everyone there is evaluated each week. A White House representative is at the table.
• The mayor and his staff have “great relations” with the new Detroit City Council as well as the emergency manager’s key staff.
• The memo of understanding between Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr “isn’t perfect, but it was a pretty good deal.” (The city’s police chief and top financial officer report to Orr, but Duggan oversees the rest of the city’s departments.)
• In response to a question about the quasi-public groups involvement in the city, Hollowell said the mayor “is going to take control and has taken control of the economic development for the city. Tom Lewand is on his staff for that reason.” (Lewand is the group executive, jobs and economic growth.) “It’s not like we’re going to have rouge economic development around the city. It ain’t happening,” Hollowell said.
Appearing at the school’s “Good Governance Lecture Series” with Portia Roberson, group executive of human rights and ethics at the city, Hollowell offered frank, if overwhelmingly positive, answers to questions about the current city operations and how the new mayor is working with the emergency manager.
“We don’t agree on everything,” Hollowell said. “We don’t want to be where we are just butting heads on everything because we’ve got work to do. From the very beginning we’ve tried to structure a cooperative relationship with the emergency manager.”
Hollowell was assistant Wayne County executive from 1985 to 1991, overlapping tenure in that office with Duggan, who was deputy executive from 1987 to 2000. Hollowell also served as general counsel for the Detroit branch of the NAACP and worked for Duggan’s campaign as chief legal counsel before being named to the city administration.
He predicted a busy year with many challenges, including the planned three-year budget that will be part of the bankruptcy restructuring process.
“It’s intense on the 11th floor,” he told the friendly audience. “Make no mistake about it, it is not for the fainthearted.”
-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda
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