Friday, October 02, 2009

Bing, the Budget and Council by Districts

I previously blogged about the ballot initiative to elect seven of Detroit's nine City Council members by district instead of on an at-large basis, which is how it currently is done.  This issue was in the courts last month because of a couple of technical problems with the language of said ballot proposal.

The incumbent City Council, most of whom are adamantly opposed to running by districts, were ask by Michigan's Attorney General Mike Cox to correct this language and place it on the ballot.  They refused to do and a court fight ensued.

At the time, I was surprised at how vigorously the City of Detroit's Law Department was contesting the proposal and trying to keep it off the November ballot.  Mayor Dave Bing had publicly supported electing the City Council by districts.  As someone who has dealt with the Law Department before, I know that it's not uncommon for the Mayor to give a certain amount of guidance to his legal staff and they always follow whatever marching orders they are given by the Mayor.

I was really surprised that Mayor Bing didn't reign the Law Department in during this court fight over Council by Districts.  But then I realized something last night as I was going through some newspaper archives.

The entire Council by Districts court fight happened at the same time that Mayor Bing had previously promised to release his 137 page restructuring plan to deal with the City of Detroit's $300 million deficit.  According to several published news reports, Mayor Bing's staff has completed their work and has presented them with their recommendations.

Mayor Bing told a group of women business leaders during a luncheon on Tuesday, September 15 that these recommendations would be released within a week. The following week, he seemingly switched sides in the Council by Districts debate.  The Council by Districts litigation immediately became the number one issue that everyone in town was talking about.

This whole thing simply seems like a smoke screen to me.  It seems like there is something in this plan that Mayor Bing doesn't want people to see.  Therefore, as a diversionary tactic, he switches sides on this ballot initiative and sends his legal team into a court fight.

And this 137 page plan still has not been released to the public.

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