LeDuff: How Low Is the Bar in Detroit? Real Low

September 29, 2020, 2:41 PM by  Charlie LeDuff

(Photo: WDIV video)

We're Number 1!

Detroit has again earned the unwanted title of America's most violent city. 

According to 2019 crime statistics released this week by the FBI, a Detroiter is more likely than any other citizen of a big city to be a victim of murder, attempted murder, rape or robbery.

And with this year's explosion in violent crime in the aftermath of George Floyd and Covid-19, Detroit looks like a shoo-in for 2020.

Consider our resumé:

♦ Detroit was America's most violent city in 2018. 

♦ Detroit was America's second-most violent in 2017. Thank you St. Louis!

♦ Detroit was America's most violent in 2016.

♦ Detroit was America's second-most violent in 2015. Again thank you St. Louis!

♦ Detroit was America's most violent in 2014.

♦ Detroit was America's most violent in 2013 the year James Craig became Detroit's police chief. 

The perception of falling crime here is an illusion, a balloon floated by a public relations team pumping hot gas from the bowels of City Hall. Eight years and no improvement. Where else is that considered a success? 

Why Is He Still Voting? 

Councilman Gabe Leland

Two friends met for lunch at a restaurant in Mexicantown in the summer of 2017. One was Bob Carmack, the oddball auto body man who is facing trial for defrauding the city in a land deal. The other was City Councilman Gabe Leland, a notorious mooch who seems perpetually on the hunt for a free meal, if FBI wiretaps are to be believed. 

And this FBI wiretap was no different. 

It seems Carmack was wearing a bug at the behest of the Feds, trying to offer Leland money in exchange for the councilman's help with the disputed property. Leland, who plans to plead guilty in state court for illegally taking cash from Carmack, but is still inexplicably casting deciding votes on the council, was on the make this particular afternoon. He was looking for some campaign cash, a free tent for a senior citizens event, some collision work on a rental car, and of course a free lunch.

They ate chicken and a large guacamole platter. They made small talk about the bedroom habits and drinking foibles of local politicos. The meal finished, Leland took his leftover chicken in a box. Then the check arrived, and the councilman's arms seemed to grow short, unable to reach his wallet. Carmack, as was the custom, picked up the tab, but not before bitching about the tip. 

Bob Carmack (Photo: Nancy Derringer)

They went outside.

“So what about this land deal?” Carmack asked.

“It ain't going nowhere,” replied Leland.

“I'll raise that money for you.”

“Fifteen (thousand)?” the councilman asked.


“I should ask for 30,” said Leland, holding his sagging bag of chicken. “But I'm nice to you.”

'N' is for nobody home

P.O. Box 43001 

It appears to be one of the most exclusive addresses in Detroit. A high rise with a river view and a polished metal door. It's home to money. A lot of money. Just how much money is anybody's guess.

Because it's dark money.

P.O. Box 43001 Detroit, Michigan 48243 is located in the 100 Tower of the Renaissance Center. It is home to a murky outfit known as Our Neighborhoods First. The organization is funding a public relations campaign to promote Mayor Mike Duggan's quarter-billion dollar property tax proposal for demolition in the city, known as Proposal N.

The address of Our Neighborhoods First is printed on its billboards and mailers.

The organization is registered as a 501c(4), a class of political nonprofits that serves as an engine for funneling dark money to political causes. By law, contributors names are not required to be made public, and their contributions amounts are not reported to the IRS until the following calendar year. 

So who from the actual neighborhoods is behind door number 43001? It appears to be nobody. The incorporation papers — dated July 30, 2020 — trace back to one law firm in Plymouth, and another in Lansing.

The P.O. box is also home to a super PAC known as Detroit Forward Together, which has in the past been funded by another super PAC called Powering the Economy, which is connected to the Detroit Chamber of Commerce and has a box in the same tower. Its contributors include multinational banks and wealthy regional Republicans. Calls to the treasurer of Detroit Forward Together – in the 517 area code – were not returned.


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