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By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Several managers of Detroit’s Human Services Department have been suspended following the revelation of inappropriate spending there. The Detroit Free Press uncovered a receipt through the Freedom of Information act that details a $210,000 purchase of office furniture — taken from funds meant to feed the poor. These monies, which bought luxury items like a $3,000 conference table, were part of a $1.2 million grant for the administration of a clothing and food bank.

The scandal is even more disturbing, because employee salaries had been recently slashed by 10%. The department heads also claimed that a lack of funds caused the delayed opening of a warming center for the homeless during the previous winter.

Instead of helping the needy, Detroit’s Human Services Department supervisors purchased $314 trash cans and $470 ottomans. The Consumerist blog has more on the story:

The Detroit Free Press blew the lid off this misspending and waste after it used a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of the receipt for the pricey office furniture that was delivered to Detroit’s Human Services Department. You can look at the entire receipt here (PDF).


The Free Press story kicked off an FBI investigation and resulted in the Director of the office and several other employees being suspended. The Mayor’s office, the police, and the city’s auditor general are wrapping up their investigations of the office following the report. The Mayor said the results would probably end up with most, if not all, of the suspended employees getting fired.

“Mayor Bing has made it clear that city government must work for residents,” mayoral spokesman Dan Lijana told the Detroit Free Press. “He has zero tolerance for the reality or appearance of misuse or mismanagement of funds.”

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