Council members just now learning of Detroit Land Bank troubles

DETROIT – Who knew what? And when? Those were very much the questions asked at a Detroit City Council meeting Tuesday.

Council members are just now learning the federal government cut off cash to the city's Land Bank in early August because of a federal probe into how that agency was using federal dollars in demolition.

"I wouldn't go so far to say there was a cover-up, but I would say there is a lack of communication," councilwoman Janeé Ayers said.

But City Council President Pro Tempore George Cushingberry said it was clear what was going on, as far back as June.

"We knew there was a potential for us to have negative action," Cushingberry said.

The City Council knew in June the feds were probing how their money was being used in the program, Cushingberry added.

He said he knew the money had stopped in August. Mayor Mike Duggan knew too, and so did the state.

While the investigation continues, the feds have turned the cash flow back on now that there are tighter controls in place. Nobody has been accused of wrongdoing at this point, but the whole episode leaves a bad taste in many mouths.

There is so much money on the line to help mitigate blight that losing the funds would be a disaster.

"The new attitude downtown is, 'We going to take you to the feds,'" Cushingberry said. "Because we don't want the reputation of having a corrupt city anymore."

When asked about why the Mayor did not brief the council members on the matter, they replied said "We did not think it was our place to make that announcement."

About the Author: