Dave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, has taken pains to portray his administration and the city as being capable of handling its challenging finances and its crippling debt.
“The picture is not all doom and gloom,” Bing said in his annual State of the City address. “Every day there is more hope and possibilities. Like many Detroiters, I, too, am a fighter. We can’t, and won’t, give up on our city.”
The mayor’s remarks came as Detroit is grappling with fiscal problems so dire that Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, is considering placing the city under the control of an emergency financial manager.
That prospect has been a highly controversial one with political and racial overtones in Detroit, a highly Democratic city that is nearly 85 percent Black. The Republican governor has already placed financial managers to run several other communities in the state, some of them with large African-American populations.
“I’ve been, from day one, totally opposed to an emergency manager,” Bing said in a recent interview with BET.com. “I don’t think we need one. We can manage our way through this. It’s a lot of hard work. But the concept of an emergency manager coming in here and solving our problems is a misnomer.”
As has been the case in other Michigan cities, emergency managers have sweeping powers to refashion the budgets of the cities in which they serve.
Detroit has long dealt with a troubled economy. The city’s population has shrunk from nearly 2 million people in 1950 to about 700,000 today. As people left, so did the tax base and much of the city’s middle class. In his annual message, Bing portrayed his administration as having made strides to deal with the city’s fiscal woes.
He said, for example, that the city has cut its spending to $1.1 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, compared with $1.4 billion in 2009.
Snyder’s office said this week that there is already a list of potential candidates for the job if the governor decide to appoint one.
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(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)