Saturday, November 26, 2011

Is Tough(and Profane)-Talking Detroit Mayor Dave Bing Bluffing, or Calling Everyone Else’s Bluff?

Bing: Back my proposals or get ready for emergency manager, bankruptcy
By Bill Shea
Originally Published: November 23, 2011 3:43 p.m.; modified: November 23, 2011 5:55 p.m.
Crain’s Detroit Business

Channeling a bit of his iconic, profane predecessor Coleman Young, Mayor Dave Bing lashed out today at the Detroit City Council over cost-cutting proposals to prop up the struggling city and called again for structural reforms to union contracts that he said are needed forestall a state-appointed emergency financial manager — or bankruptcy.

["Iconic"? That's like calling a near-fatal illness you once survived "iconic." "King" Coleman Young weas notorious, not iconic. George Washington was iconic.]

"If we can't get structural change, there is no way to avoid a bankruptcy or emergency financial manager," he said.

His words came during a meeting with local business journalists at his office in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on this afternoon — an unpaid furlough day for city employees.

Detroit expects to run out of cash by April. By the end of the fiscal year in June, the shortfall is estimated to be $45 million. The city has an accumulated deficit of about $180 million in its $1.2 billion general fund.

Clad in a Detroit Pistons sweatshirt and ball cap, Bing defended the proposal he unveiled last week to trim $102 million this fiscal year through a combination of a 0.9-percentage-point increase in taxes on C-corporations, pay cuts, union concessions on benefits and pensions, work rule changes, outsourced management of the bus system, cuts in vendor payments and 1,000 layoffs.

Those same cuts would save an additional $258 million in fiscal 2013, he said.

Bing revealed today that the Detroit Public Schools has agreed to pay the city $15 million to settle a delinquent $31 million utility bill but said that money doesn't mean the unions will have to get $15 million less.

If the city's 48 unions don't agree to renegotiate their deals and provide structural changes, the city will be taken over by an emergency financial manager or default in a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, he reiterated.

If the unions "don't come to the table and buy into the plan, it'll happen anyway," he said.

Bing doesn't think an emergency manager is the ideal solution.

"They can't come in here and run the city any better than we can," he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration has been cool toward Bing's plans, and it's thought that the governor wants the mayor and City Council to jointly seek a state review of Detroit's finances — a move Bing said is "useless" because the city gives the state its 13-week cash flow projections every month.

Instead, Bing said Snyder will have to make a decision on installing an emergency financial manager, who will be able to toss out union contracts and make structural changes to benefits and pensions.

"The governor will have to make a move," Bing said.

Snyder's office said that the proposals are being reviewed and that efforts are being made to induce cooperation. No decision has been made whether the governor will install a financial manager without a request from the mayor and council.

"That's going to have to be evaluated and considered within the context of what happens in the next few days and weeks," said Sara Wurfel, Snyder's press secretary.

In the meantime, Bing is taking off his gloves and will return fire to those who criticize him — saying his days of acting like "nothing more than a gentleman" since taking office are over.

"All that bulls**t is off the table for me," he said. "I will fight."

He also said a "big intellectual difference" exists between his administration and the City Council.

"None of them have run anything, ever," Bing said, adding that council members have agreed to various proposals in the past but reversed themselves in public — basically lying to him. He didn't name names.

Council members have criticized Bing's cost savings plan as lacking boldness, and some have called for up to 2,300 layoffs —estimated to save $36.4 million by June 30.

Bing said those cuts would include 500 police and 400 firefighters, which would leave the city unprotected.

"Our city will implode," he said. "How do you run a city if you get rid of all the people?"

He used the word "implode" at least three times to warn of doom if more city employees, especially police and firefighters, are cut and if structural reforms to pensions, medical benefits and work rules aren't made with the unions.

Bing also said council members are opposing his plans because they're jockeying to become mayor themselves or seeking other jobs.

"I'm the mayor; they're not," Bing said, noting that he's willing to listen to any suggestions council members have on his plan — or plans of their own.

1 comment:

John Sobieski said...

"They can't come in here and run the city any better than we can," he [Bing] said.

Well you could nuke it from space. It's the only way to be sure.

That's a joke! The Gov. doesn't want to take Detroit to his bosom. That's one big tar-baby. If he appoints an administrator, slashes jobs, breaks all contracts, pensions, can you imagine the blacks taking that without burning Detroit down? Oh wait, there isn't that much left to burn.