Mayor Bing: City government is broken

Nov 17, 2011

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing addressed his city’s dire financial straits last night in a televised speech in which he said, “simply put, our city is in a financial crisis and city government is broken.”

“To avoid running out of money by spring, Bing says the city needs to do a whole range of things almost at once. They include increased health care and pension contributions for everyone, including retirees; and 10-percent wage cuts rather than furlough days for current employees. Bing says that needs to include the city’s public safety officers. Those departments eat up about 60% of Detroit’s budget. He adds the city needs to privatize some services—including public lighting, and to some extent its dysfunctional bus system,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Cwiek was at the mayor’s address and says, “many think it’s only a matter of time before Detroit gets an emergency manager—and some, including Detroit City Council members, think the lack of specifics and deadlines in Bing’s speech made that even more likely.”

This morning, The Detroit Free Press had headlines that included an editorial titled, "Not good enough, Mr. Mayor," and a column by Stephen Henderson, "Numbers don't add up anywhere near city's needs."

Quickly after the speech was over, Governor Snyder released a statement that said:

“I have consistently said that as we work to reinvent Michigan, the City of Detroit must thrive.  Mayor Bing and I have worked closely over this past year and I remain supportive of the city’s efforts to resolve its financial problems. As I have said previously on this issue, I want to avoid an emergency manager if at all possible.  Based on the mayor’s remarks tonight and the severity of the situation he described, we anticipate he will be submitting a request for a preliminary financial review in the near future.”

Earlier this month, Mayor Bing said, in an interview with The Detroit News, that, if asked by Governor Snyder, he would consider becoming the city’s emergency manager. “I’m giving that serious thought,” The Detroit News reported him saying.

Christina Shockley spoke with Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek about Bing's speech:

Responses to the Address:

Rochelle Riley: Toe-dipping Bing should take plunge, The Detroit Free Press

Editorial: Bing's response falls short, The Detroit News

Daniel Howes: It's now or never for Detroit to take control of its destiny, The Detroit News

Detroit Mayor Bing: Union givebacks, state help urgent to stave off emergency takeover, The Washington Post