• Feds find $100M for broke Detroit to fight blight
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     | September 28,2013
     
    AP PHOTO

    Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, addresses reporters after meeting with state and local leaders about ways the federal government can help the struggling city.

    DETROIT — Obama administration officials said Friday that they are sending someone to Detroit to oversee a federal effort that includes millions of dollars in grants to help fix the beleaguered city.

    Officials said Don Graves will coordinate the public and private money going to hire more police and firefighters and clear out blighted neighborhoods, among other things. Graves, a Treasury Department official, serves as executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

    But critics said the combined $300 million in federal and private funds falls well short of a wider bailout sought by some in the city facing $18 billion in long-term debt.

    Several high-ranking White House officials discussed federal efforts and other opportunities Friday during a closed-door meeting at Wayne State University with Gov. Rick Snyder, state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Mayor Dave Bing and community and business leaders.

    The $100 million of existing federal funds will be augmented with $200 million more in resources from foundations and businesses.

    Detroit this summer became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection. Federal officials recognized that the prospect of legislation to bail out the city was extremely low, so the Obama administration pored through the federal budget and found untapped money.

    “We knew this was an exceptional circumstance and it deserved an exceptional response,” Gene Sperling, Obama’s chief economic adviser and a Michigan native, told reporters after the meeting.

    “What you see here is just a more expedited and aggressive effort because we want to help the people of Detroit to prosper,” he said. “But we also want the rest of the people in the country to understand ... that Detroit, with the right resources and right partnership, has a great future.”

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