DETROIT — In the nearly two months that Mike Duggan has been Detroit's mayor, he's met with President Barack Obama, public bus riders, city workers and anyone who will listen to his message that the city is changing — this time for the better.
Duggan said Wednesday night during his first State of the City address that he and other elected officials are addressing blight, unemployment, crime, poor public transportation, snow removal and many of Detroit's other problems.
"You've seen us take on these issues calmly and deal with them honestly," he said. "The change has started and the change in Detroit is real."
The 45-minute address was the first such speech since Detroit's finances fell under control of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr and the city was allowed to enter bankruptcy.
"The question I get now, almost everyday somebody asks me: 'Aren't you discouraged?'" Duggan told several hundred people in a packed City Hall auditorium. "'You're the mayor of a city that's in bankruptcy. You don't have control of your own destiny. And of course, you're not really the mayor. The emergency manager is in charge.'"
But Duggan said he is working with Orr, even though he is not a fan of the arrangement.
Detroit is going through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, and Duggan's address came less than a week after Orr filed his plan to pay creditors while providing money for city services and improvements in the coming years.
The mayor's power is restricted. Most of the power once exclusive to the mayor's office now resides with Orr, who has complete control over all city finances, how much is spent and what the money is spent on. A deal with Orr gives Duggan control over day-to-day functions of city government.