Dave Bing

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder is ready to send bulldozers, cops and social welfare workers into Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing confirmed reports Friday that the state is sending money and resources Detroit’s way.

The goal is to focus intensely on stabilizing several city neighborhoods, with an emphasis on demolishing vacant homes.

Bing says state and city officials chose the target neighborhoods jointly.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing / Facebook.com

A board created to help Detroit Mayor Dave Bing repair the city's broken finances has approved his plan to make more than $100 million in cuts to the unionized workforce.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report the financial advisory board took its first major steps toward restructuring the city's finances yesterday. The plan calls for putting in place savings that include a 10 percent wage cut and significant changes to health care and work rules.

Most are similar to tentative agreements reached earlier this year with unions.

The City Council is expected to consider the plan next week, but the financial board can implement the actions without council's approval.

The nine-member board was formed under a consent agreement between the city and state.

A court has once again rebuffed a Detroit city lawyer's attempts to have the city’s consent agreement with the state overturned.

Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, has pushed forward with a legal action that could un-do the consent agreement.

Crittendon maintains that legally, the city can’t enter into any contracts with the state because the state owes the city money.

Detroit’s top lawyer has apparently decided to fight on in her effort to challenge the city’s consent agreement with the state.

State officials warn the ongoing court battle threatens Detroit’s ability to “get back on track and move forward.”

Detroit corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon maintains the consent agreement is illegal because the state owes Detroit money, and the city can’t have a valid contract with a debtor.

But Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette threw the case out, saying Crittendon had no authority to bring it.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and city union representatives appear to be headed for a showdown over contract negotiations.

The heart of this disagreement is Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

There’s language in there that allows the mayor to impose union contracts after previous contracts expire. Most city workers’ contracts expired June 1.

But in a scathing letter to Bing, union officials say it doesn’t exempt the city from bargaining with unions—something they haven’t done since the two sides reached tentative agreements in February.

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.

User goIfmuth / Flickr

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley to check in with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what’s happening this week in Michigan politics. Today, Jack and Christina cover how there's a little something for everybody in the budget Gov.

Kate Davidson / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has plans to demolish 1,500 abandoned structures in the city over the next three months.

In a press release, Bing's office said the "Summer 2012 Demolition Plan" is part of a larger effort to raze 10,000 dangerous and abandoned buildings by the end of the mayor's first term. Over 4,500 homes and other empty buildings have been demolished so far.

Removing abandoned structures in Detroit, the press release says, is a key part of Mayor Bing's "blight elimination and neighborhood stabilization plans, the U.S. Department of Justice Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and the Safe Routes to School campaign."

Some 350 of the buildings slated for removal this summer were suggested by students, parents and patrol volunteers at area high schools.

Mayor Bing is set to make an official announcement later this afternoon at the site of one home set for demolition today on Detroit's east side.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing went to the Detroit City Council Friday to formally tell them he wants to get rid of the city’s top lawyer.

Instead, he walked out of an abruptly-recessed meeting he later called a “sideshow.”

Bing has been at odds with Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, for weeks now.

Matthileo / Flickr

Every Wednesday, we speak with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about what's going on in state politics. On tap for this week: Mitt Romney campaigns in Michigan, the debate over the word "vagina" continues at the state Capitol and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he'd like to rid the city of its top lawyer.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has asked the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, to resign—and she’s refused.

Now, Bing says he’ll make a case for removing her to the Detroit City Council.

Crittendon recently went against Bing’s wishes by pressing a legal challenge to the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Crittendon said she was obligated to do that because she believed the consent agreement violated the city charter. And she insisted the charter allowed her to act independently of Bing.

The Parade Company / via theparade.org

Suburban law enforcement officers will help Detroit Police keep the peace at this year’s riverfront fireworks.

But city officials warn it’s the last time the city will pick up the security tab for a major “regional” event.

“We can’t continue this way, with the financial condition that the city’s in," Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said Monday. "Nor does it really make sense, in particular, for regional events…to not have the region help support those.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’s happy a “distracting” court case brought by his own city attorney was dismissed Wednesday, and the city can now follow through on its consent agreement with the state.

Bing said he was “not happy with” his corporation counsel’s decision to push the legal challenge—but insists that’s all in the past now.

The standoff between Lansing and some Detroit city officials over a lawsuit showed little sign of fizzling out Tuesday.

But it also appears the state might be looking for ways to give the city some leeway if the contentious situation continues much longer.

The standoff began last week when Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, went to court asking for a judge’s opinion about whether the consent agreement between the city and state should be voided.

City of Detroit Facebook page

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council are sitting down this morning to discuss keeping the city afloat financially.

Bing and Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer have warned the city might run out of money by the end of this week.

When Detroit signed a consent agreement with the state more than two months ago, it was supposed to keep the city out of just this position.

But the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the deal’s validity in court.

She has support from several City Council members—and at one point, got encouragement from Bing.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and his Chief Financial Officer, Jack Martin, warn the city could go broke as soon as next week.

That’s because Detroit’s top lawyer, Kyrstal Crittendon, filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Crittendon argues the agreement is “void and unenforceable” because the state owes the city money—and it’s illegal to enter into a contract with a debtor.

m-1rail.com

Elected leaders and private backers of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line met with federal transit officials in Detroit Monday.

They left that meeting with yet another 60-day deadline to try and secure federal funding.

Detroit’s top lawyer is going to court to challenge the city’s consent agreement with the state. But she doesn’t have the full support of Mayor Dave Bing, or some Detroit City Council members.

Corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon wrote a letter to state officials weeks ago.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing couldn't have enjoyed reading his city's newspapers when he woke up on Mackinac Island yesterday morning. The Detroit Free Press splashed a story across its front page saying the business community wanted longtime Wayne County political fixer Mike Duggan as the city's next mayor.

The Detroit News's editorial page editor said the business community had decided that it is time for the mayor to go, and then called on the mayor to, quote "use the excuse of advancing age and poor health" to not run again next year.

Yesterday morning the mayor came out to face the press, and naturally, was asked about his own future. Standing on the Grand Hotel's magnificent porch, all the mayor would tell us reporters was that he had eighteen months left in his current term (it's actually nineteen), and he felt the need to "get as many things done as I possibly can." Now, I don't have an opinion on whether the mayor ought to run. He previously has said he was going to.

Frankly, if you know anything about how government works, the worst thing Bing could do would be to announce early that he isn't running. The moment he does that, he becomes a lame duck, and immediately loses much of his power and influence.

But beyond that, I am astonished at the business community's chutzpah in attempting to say who ought to be Detroit's mayor. Do they think our memories are that short?

Seven years ago, the business community was highly decisive in a Detroit mayoral race. Freman Hendrix was one of the final two candidates. He was a decent man with a finance background who had served as deputy mayor in the Archer administration.

Hendrix had grown up in a working class neighborhood. He had joined the Navy, and had put himself through college. I thought he had the potential to be a good mayor who had the ability to relate to average citizens. But the business community wanted the incumbent: Kwame Kilpatrick.

It looks like Detroit’s yearly budget process will get resolved without the squabbles that have plagued it in past years.

 

Mayor Dave Bing said Thursday he’ll sign the budget the Detroit City Council approved last week.

The Council made few changes to the budget plan Bing proposed back in April. It slashes nearly $250 million  from the city’s now roughly $1.1 billion budget.

Laughlin Elkind / Flickr

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Mayor Dave Bing yesterday announced that he and the Detroit City Council have come to an agreement on the city's 2012-2013 budget.

The Mayor is also attending the Mackinac Policy Conference but has avoided telling reporters outright whether he plans to run for reelection.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson / Michigan Radio

At a press conference this morning, Detroit Mayor Bing said he'll approve Detroit City Council's budget.

Here's Bing making the announcement at the Mackinac Policy Conference this morning:

Bing's announcement means the typical high-stakes budget battles seen between executive and legislative branches of government won't happen in Detroit this year.

Suzette Hackney of the Detroit Free Press reports:

For the first time in recent history, Detroit's executive and legislative branches of government quashed potential squabbles over the city's budget and agreed to make $250 million in cuts in an effort to steer Detroit back toward fiscal stability.Detroit Mayor Dave Bing this morning said he intends Friday to formally adopt the budget, which contains key public lighting, transportation and public safety initiatives...

The 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1. This budget is the first under a consent agreement that gives the state significant oversight into Detroit's finances. The $1.12-billion spending plan calls for Detroit's human services department to be eliminated, the transportation and lighting departments will be privatized, and 2,600 jobs will be cut.

The budget reduces the city's general fund by $246 million -- a $171-million spending reduction and $75 million to go toward paying down an accumulated deficit.

Detroit's budget must also be approved by a "financial advisory board" which was set up under a consent agreement with the state. The seats on the nine-member board are still being filled.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing joined other city and law enforcement officials to break ground on the city’s future public safety headquarters Tuesday.

The former MGM Grand Casino and another building will get a $60 million makeover before it’s slated to open next year.

The renovated complex will house Detroit’s Police, Fire, EMS, and Homeland Security departments. There are also plans to put a Michigan State Police crime lab there.

Bing says the new set-up will help the city’s crime-fighting efforts.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder have something in common. Both had successful business careers before politics. When both were first elected, they promised not to take a salary, since both their jurisdictions, city and state, had severe budget problems. Then, both changed their minds.

Last year Mayor Bing announced that he was now accepting his salary, which is about $158,000 a year. He had been donating all of it to the police department.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Calling it the first such new retail development in the city in decades, officials broke ground on the site of a future 36-acre shopping center Thursday.

Detroiters have long noted the city’s lack of many quality shopping options—especially when it comes to buying groceries.

Officials hope the Gateway Shopping Center--on the former Michigan State fairgrounds at 8 Mile and Woodward-- will help fill some of that void.

Detroit’s top lawyer says the city’s consent agreement with the state isn’t legally binding.

Corporation counsel Krystal Crittenden sent a letter to Governor Snyder’s office calling the agreement “void and unenforceable.”

The letter cites money the state owes the city—and says Detroit’s charter forbids it from entering into agreements with debtors.

Another Detroit city department says it simply can’t function if proposed budget cuts go through.

The law department says “there is no way” the unit can run on what’s allotted in Mayor Dave Bing’s budget proposal.

Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittenden told the Detroit City Council the city’s new charter gives the law department new responsibilities.

Bing proposes slashing their budget by more than half. But the Council moved to restore most of that funding.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Detroit’s City Clerk says budget cuts would compromise her ability to run elections.

Janice Winfrey took her case to the Detroit City Council Friday.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing wants to cut the election department's budget by 25%, from $7.4 million to $5 million.

Bing says that’s part of across-the-board cuts that need to happen as the city grapples with state mandates to reduce its deficit--outlined in the consent agreement between the city and state.

Detroit’s community access centers are one casualty of the city’s ongoing cost-cutting.

The centers, also known as neighborhood city halls, get no funds in Mayor Dave Bing’s proposed budget.

Their functions—like organizing the annual Angel’s Night and Motor City Makeover campaigns—will be shifted to neighborhood recreation centers.

But Detroit City Council members question how that transition will work without any funding. Bing’s proposed budget eliminates funding for several city departments.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit leaders are promising better service for the city’s more than 100,000 regular bus riders.

Officials phased in what they’re calling the "415 plan" this past weekend.

It promises service every fifteen minutes along the city’s four busiest bus routes during peak riding hours (6 am-6 pm).

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing turned bus management over to a private firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, earlier this year. He credits them with improving service.

“I think the outside management team has worked very, very well with our employees," said Bing, speaking Monday during his first day back from more than a month-long battle with health problems. "They’re listening to each other, they’re good ideas being brought to the table, and the implementation plan is moving forward.”

But the four-fifteen initiative comes on the heels of cutbacks to other city bus routes, and the elimination of overnight service.

And while timely service has improved, city officials admit it’s still a long way from where it needs to be.

“It should be 90-95% [on-time]," said Detroit Department of Transportation CEO Ron Freeland. "Especially when you consider that most of our customers are going to use more than one bus line.”

In a report released just last week, the transit advocacy group Transportation Riders United gave Detroit’s bus system a “D-minus” grade—with only 63% of buses arriving on-time.

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