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Duggan: Car insurance, blight, buses among top issues in first State of the City

mike duggan shaking a woman's hand
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is proposing a city-run insurance company to help bring down astronomical premiums.

City buses that pick you up when they’re supposed to. Parks that are open to the public, where the grass is cut and the trash is picked up. And car insurance that doesn’t cost more than your car.

Sound like modest proposals? Maybe in most cities. But Detroit is not most cities. And those are some of the promises made by Mayor Mike Duggan, in his first State of the City address tonight.

A city-owned car insurance company may be the most provocative proposal laid out in tonight’s speech. Duggan says the city charter allows it. And he says affordable insurance, along with reliable bus service, is essential to employment for Detroiters.

"When I moved from the suburbs to Detroit two years ago, our car insurance went from $3,000 to $6,000," Duggan told the crowd, adding that the rates are unjustified.

“Most Detroiters are paying more a month for car insurance than they are for the car payment itself,” Duggan said.

The company, Duggan suggested, will be called D-Insurance. “It's going to take us a while,” he said, “but we're starting the process this summer and we're going to keep going until we give people an affordable car insurance option."

Among Duggan’s other priorities:

  • Demolition of fire-damaged homes: Duggan says there’s  nearly $20 million in an insurance escrow account that’s sat unused for years. Duggan says the city will use that money to start demolishing some of the 5,000 fire-damaged homes in the within the next 30 days.
  • City parks:  Duggan says of 300 city parks, only about 25 were open and well-maintained this year. He’s pledging to maintain 150 this summer. And he’s asking churches and other groups to maintain another 50.
  • Lighting:  Duggan says LED lights will be installed citywide by 2015, a year ahead of schedule.
  • DDOT:  Detroit has asked the Obama administration for 50 new buses that will be in service by this fall. Duggan says he's just hired 20 bus mechanics, and plans to hire 20 more, plus 40 drivers.  
  • EMS: The city is purchasing 15 new ambulances that are expected to be on the streets by this summer, and it’s hiring 70 new EMTs.

“You have leadership that will listen and involve you,” Duggan said at the end of his speech tonight. “That’s what Detroiters deserve.”

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.