Friday, August 28, 2009

Bing Refuses to Debate Barrow

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced on WJR radio yesterday that he will not debate his challenger Tom Barrow. In his remarks, Mr. Bing said:
To be honest with you, here's a guy that won 11% of the vote. What is there to debate about? He's got his issues, and I've got mine and trying to run the city of Detroit.
What is there to debate, Mr. Mayor?

Did you really ask what there is to debate, Mr. Mayor?

How about this: the City of Detroit has a $350 million budget deficit. The Bing Administration has proposed addressing this by laying off as many as 1,000 municipal employees, resulting in considerable reductions to our already limited public services.

Since those laid off employees make considerably less than $300,000 per year, there's no way that these layoffs will even come close to balancing Detroit's budget. ($300 million deficit/ 1,000 laid off employees = an average salary & benefits of $300,000 that would be required for these layoffs to balance our budget.)

In reality, Bing's proposed layoffs will only solve approximately 15% of Detroit's budget problems and will do so with considerable hardship for Detroit residents and businesses. This prompts two immediate questions:
  1. What should we do to resolve the remaining 85% of our budget problems?
  2. What will we as a community do to mitigate the hardships caused by cuts in services after these layoffs?
In the long-term, we should also ask what we are going to do so that Detroit is no longer in this perpetual, seemingly never-ending budget problem.

Yes, Mr. Mayor, there is much for us as a community to debate in the coming months. It's too bad you're not willing to participate in it.

I am going to make a prediction at this point.

Mayor Bing appears quite confident that he has this vast groundswell of support and that his re-election in November is a certainty.  However, I am not as confident in this.

The mayoral race will unquestionably tighten in the coming months as Mayor Bing has to make unpopular choices that are only exacerbated by his own unwillingness to engage the people that he was elected to serve and some equally unpopular moves such as his decision to demolish Tiger Stadium.  This race will almost certainly narrow to within 10 percentage points.  Moreover, if Tom Barrow plays his cards right, I believe there's a decent chance that he could win this race.
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