Bing faces questions, criticism at "community conversation'

Jun 28, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing took questions from Detroiters during a “community conversation” at city hall Wednesday night.

Bing answered a wide range of questions from citizens, ranging from concerns about blight and crime, to leaking pipes and building permits.

But he also deflected some questions to his top officials, nearly a dozen of whom flanked him in a city auditorium.

At times, that seemed to frustrate some people in the audience. They said they had come to hear Bing’s vision for the city, and wanted him to speak directly to them.

But Bing said his “outstanding staff” needed to participate.

“I’ve got a lot of people that are part of this team, that do the things that you as citizens need them to do,” Bing said. “You need to know who they are. Cause I can’t be everywhere you may want me to be, day-to-day.”

He also faced questions--and some harsh accusations--about why he entered into a consent agreement that gives state and appointed officials vast powers over Detroit’s government.

When asked by one man why he “gave up the people’s political power,” Bing said he had little choice.

“Had we not agreed to sign off on the consent agreement, either an emergency manager or bankruptcy would have happened,” Bing said. “We took the less of three evils, so that we still have some control.”

Bing emphasized that the city is still in a fiscal crisis, and said Detroit won’t survive if it doesn’t make fundamental changes.

But he also asked residents not to turn against the city government or each other, saying everyone needs to “be on the same team” to turn things around.