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Category: News Briefs - Original Published on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 10:15 Written by Bankole Thompson/Senior Editor
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That message was made clear Monday at Wayne State University Law School auditorium during the first "Detroit Good Governance Leadership Summit" where leaders in government, business, civic, labor, media and other segments of the community gathered to discuss tools and resources to ensure that there was transparency and accountability in local government, especially in light of what has taken place in Detroit in the last decade.
The arrival of the summit could not be more timely in light of the two mayoral contenders, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, are vying for the top leadership of Detroit in the general election on Nov. 5. These candidates have an obligation to make transparency the central focus of their administration should, whichever one wins two weeks from now.
The cross-pollination of ideas at the summit underscored the strong interest from various individuals and groups concerned about the lack of transparency when dealing with government.
An example is Gov. Rick Snyder's secret Nerd Fund which was among the questions raised at the summit by panelist and labor leader Karla Swift, the newly minted president of the Michigan AFL-CIO who spoke candidly about the contradictory messages that political leaders send to their constituents. Public pressure forced the governor's office to declare this week that the fund was being shut down.
Detroit's newly appointed inspector general, James Heath, talked about the need for new municipal government to make openness and preventing waste a key element of how it does business on behalf of taxpayers.
According to Heath, the Office of Inspector General is uniquely positioned to play a prominent role in preventing wrongdoing before it drains valuable city resources.
"Toward that end, the OIG works cooperatively with city departments and agencies to institute the type of internal controls and best practices which can greatly deter waste, abuse, fraud, and corruption," Heath said.
He has assembled an impressive team of attorneys, auditors and investigators dedicated to the mission of accountability. The office is located at 65 Cadillac Square, suite 3210.
Consistent with the best practices of other investigatory agencies, Heath decided early on to locate the office outside of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to allow city employees and the general public to feel more secure in making complaints concerning wrongdoing they have observed and to be interviewed confidentially outside of the glare of City Hall.
Politicians always have an issue coming out clear on things and it is no surprise that they end up running afoul of not only the law but the expectations of good governance they often preach on the campaign trail.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, whose office prosecuted former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as well as many other city officials, was one of the summit organizers.
"Our city is ready to turn the page and move on from the corruption of the Kilpatrick administration, but it is important to learn from our history so that we do not repeat it. A government with integrity will ensure that the next chapter in our history is a positive one," McQuade said. "We are hopeful that rooting out public corruption will restore confidence in government and attract leaders with integrity. The city can attract businesses that were relegated to the sidelines during the days when bribery and extortion were part of our city's culture."
McQuade, who was appointed by President Obama continued, "Citizens who became cynical because of corruption can feel empowered to renew their engagement in civic life. There are many good and talented people in Detroit who are ready to step up and lead."
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