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Detroit's new leader wants role on fiscal panel

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 5:39 p.m.

DETROIT — The new mayor of Detroit was sworn into office on Wednesday, and despite the holiday — and his limited powers in an insolvent city in which finances are controlled by a state-appointed emergency manager — he is starting work immediately.

Mike Duggan was holding initial staff meetings at City Hall after the morning ceremony, continuing the work he has done on Detroit's behalf since voters elected him in November.

With outgoing Mayor Dave Bing at his side, Duggan praised his predecessor, calling him one of his heroes.

“I'm going to continue to build on what he started, and I just want to say thank you,” Duggan said during a brief ceremony punctuated by humor and informality.

The former Detroit Medical Center chief has attended a meeting of new mayors hosted by the White House, put together his own administration and lobbied with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr for a greater role in the city's immediate turnaround.

“He's been engaged on issues and has been preparing to hit the ground running,” former Detroit Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said of Duggan.

So far, mayoral-type celebrations have been muted, something Cockrel said is noteworthy.

“We're broke. There is no money. Streetlights are still not on. Cops do not come on time,” said Cockrel, who is founder of a government relations advocacy firm. “When you're in the middle of a bankruptcy, how much celebrating should you be doing? It's about the city. The most important thing for all of us now is getting the city's organization and finances in operating order.”

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