I was lucky to be invited to participate in a meeting on Detroit Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan’s transition process. The meeting, which took place recently at the University of Detroit Mercy on Mc Nichols Road, tackled issues on the quality of life of Detroit residents.
The sub-groups of the quality-of-life transition team are: Youth Development, Recreation, Education, Disabled Persons, Senior Citizens and Arts and Culture.
More than 30 people from the government and private sectors were invited to join the discussion. It was intended to help in setting the city administration’s priority activities in the first 100 days in office of Mayor-Elect Duggan who will assume office on January 1, 2014.
The groups in attendance were told that while it is expected that the transition team’s recommendations will be good beyond the 100-day period, the focus of the sub-groups will be on the top priority issues over the quality of life in Detroit.
I chose to become a member of the education sub-committee. Education is in my professional field as I am currently an educator in the Detroit Public School.
We were made to understand that the mayor-elect is not planning to handle the affairs of the school district in the city, but he will be a good partner. That is okay to me.
I supported our working group’s proposal to create an Achievement Commission composed of the stakeholders at the various educational levels, including parents and policy makers. The said commission would look into the various education issues.
The group suggested the appointment of an education liaison to head the Achievement Commission with duties such as running a full-attendance campaign. Another suggestion from our group calls for the city government to reduce the blighted areas around schools.
A summer youth employment program was also proposed. Under this proposal, there would be a Detroit Summer Youth Employment Consortium. This would involve parents and other caring adults.
The group likewise suggested the involvement of the community in the task of improving the students’ graduation rate.
The recommendations will be considered by the incoming mayor in the preparation of programs that will be implemented in his first 100 days in office as chief executive of the city.
The meeting was a rare opportunity for me to experience a face-to-face dialogue with notable persons such as Antoine Gariboldi, PhD, president of the University of Detroit Mercy; Edna Reaves, executive vice president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, and former State Representative Liza Howse.
After the meeting, I was wondering over the kind of power the incoming mayor will have when he starts his term on January 1, considering that the city is now being run by a state-appointed emergency manager.