Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dave Bing: 7 Months Until Lame Duck Status

Mayor Dave Bing has now been in office for a little more than two years. While he has accomplished several things during that time his accomplishments have not been in areas that most Detroit residents and small business owners would regard as the most urgent.

For example, the City of Detroit had its audits completed on time due to the Bing Administration, but the Detroit Police Department still has one of the worst response times in the nation. This is in spite of the Department having of the largest budgets in the nation on a per resident basis.

The Bing Administration managed to secure improvement to Cobo Hall downtown, which is great. However, his signature effort, the Detroit Works Project, appears to be stuck in the proverbial mud.

Several historic buildings in and around downtown Detroit were demolished. This included the vacant Tiger Stadium, even though U.S. Senator Carl Levin had secured the funds to redevelop the historic ballpark. While these historic properties downtown were being demolished, Mayor Bing's efforts at combating vacant and blighted homes in Detroit's neighborhoods has been even worse than those of disgraced former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

There is still time for Mayor Bing to turn things around. Quite frankly, I hope and pray that he does. I would much rather keep a successful incumbent in office than go through the process of selecting a completely new mayor and then have to hope that he or she actually does turn out to be better.

However, the political reality is that Mayor Bing's time to turn things around is rapidly running out. Business leaders and the leadership of various charitable foundations have all expressed a lingering frustration with the slow pace of progress under Mayor Bing. Moreover, what I hear off the record pales in comparison the complaints that I have heard in published news accounts and I have heard these complaints from every section of the city.

Based on this, I predict that if Mayor Bing isn't able to show a considerable amount of progress in the areas of police response time, combating vacant and blighted housing, and economic development in the neighborhoods by next spring then he will essentially be a lame duck. He will, of course, still be in office beyond the spring of 2012.

However, without a significant turnaround, the fact of the matter is that there will be so many mayoral and city candidates with knives out to get him that it will be impossible for him to get anything accomplished. He will have very little of surviving the primary and even less chance at surviving the November 2013 election.

As someone who supported Mayor Bing during the special election that brought him to power, I pray that he is able to use the next 7 months wisely. I fear, based on the past two years that he will squander his last opportunity, but I pray that I am proven wrong and that he begins making drastic changes in how his Administration operates.
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