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A conversation with Detroit Council member Saunteel Jenkins

Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins.
Detroit City Council member Saunteel Jenkins.

At an open meeting of the financial review team in charge of evaluating the city of Detroit’s finances, protesters on Monday afternoon interrupted the meeting chanting, “No take over.”

The financial review team reaffirmed that a financial emergency does exist in the city and that a consent agreement was their preferred approach to fixing the city’s finances.

The city of Detroit and Michigan have yet to come to an agreement on how to stabilize the city’s finances.

Saunteel Jenkins is a member of the Detroit City Council. She told Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White she understands the emotion of Detroiters.

“We are passionate about our city, we love our city and we want to make sure the democratic process stays in place.”

Jenkins says people in Detroit want to know what would be in a consent agreement, or a fiscal stabilization agreement, as Jenkins calls it. She says “once they understand, they just want to make sure the city is protected.”

“Citizens are concerned about whether or not city assets will be sold, you know there is always this talk in the background about things like our water department being sold, or our parks Belle Isle which is the only park of its kind in the country being sold, and our talks and negotiations are making sure that those kinds of things are not included in this agreement,” Jenkins says.

Jenkins agrees that there are big problems in Detroit, but she says the state should financially help the city get back on its feet.

“There are some structural issues here that have not been addressed, and many of them cannot be addressed without some cash up front. So that’s one of the conversations we are having with the state, them financing the changes that need to be made.”

Jenkins says the city and state share the blame for Detroit’s fiscal problems, and says there should be accountably on both sides moving forward.


Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of Stateside.
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