Detroit — November 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Detroit forced to return $9.2 million in unspent federal aid, can’t explain why


For as long as I can remember, Detroit has been a pit of malfeasance, corruption and general ineptitude. When I was a kid, Detroit Public School board members were in the news for taking taxpayer-paid limos to board meetings. Since then it’s been one tale after another of embezzlement, waste, and theft. Closed schools full of computers, science equipment and even student records, left for vandals to abscond with. Employees embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from an already failing school system. Former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his administration made Detroit the laughing stock of the nation with his notorious sexting and corruption.

And now this: $9.2 billion in federal aid being returned unspent. Worse yet, it was money targeted to help out poor Detroiters cut their winter energy bills.

Mayor Dave Bing’s administration couldn’t explain at a council hearing today why the city was forced to return $9.2 million in federal funds intended to help lower-income homeowners cut their energy bills.

The Internal Operations Standing Committee must wait for at least another week for the administration to shed light on the Detroit Human Services Department’s failure to meet its three-year goal of weatherizing more than 5,000 homes by January.

The state ordered the city this summer to return the money, which was to be used for repairing or replacing furnaces, windows, insulation and other fixtures to reduce climbing energy costs, the Free Press found last week. […]

“We have some serious problems with the Department of Human Services,” Councilwoman Brenda Jones, head of the Internal Operations Standing Committee, said today. “It’s a disgrace for the city to give any money back in the times we are in now.” […]

Bing fired the department’s leadership early this summer after the Free Press revealed the agency used money intended for poor people to buy furniture for its offices and high-end appliances for friends and relatives who were not eligible for the help.

Detroit is the poster child for urban areas that are on their knees. Over a quarter of its buildings are empty. Actually, Detroit is beyond being on its knees. It’s lying in the dirty street and inept and corrupt public officials are kicking it in the head and stealing its wallet. The federal government has tried to help and they still can’t get through the morass of ineptitude to make a difference.

Absolutely inexcusable.