Probe demanded in Riverside Park record denial

Posted on May 20, 2015

By Joel Thurtell

Two students from a Wayne State University investigative reporting class taught by me last week were told by staffers in Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s office that the agreement Duggan announced April 29 between the city and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun was only “an idea” and did not exist as a record.

The reporters were students whose one-week investigative project was the proposed swap of land between the city and Moroun at the Detroit’s Riverside Park.

Reporters Alexander Franzen and Timothy Carroll asked for the document on May 12 and again on May 14. After the WSU reporters’ departure from Duggan’s office on May 14, staff from the mayor’s office sent the agreement to City Council. The following day, a friend outside government sent me a copy of the agreement that came from a council member.

Something more than a mere “idea,” the multi-page document document is dated April 29 and was notarized on May 4.

Today, May 20, 2015, I asked Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy for an investigation into possible violations of the Michigan Penal Code, which makes it a crime for public officials to withhold public records when requested by citizens during normal business hours. The punishment for violations is up to a year in prison or up to a $1,000 fine.

750.492 Public records; inspection; use; copying; removal.