LeDuff: 'Do nothing Dave' embarrasses Detroit

LeDuff: 'Do nothing Dave' embarrasses Detroit

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Off the Chain Opinion

DETROIT -- Poor Dave.

Hizzoner told CNN that being mayor of Detroit is "probably the second-most difficult job in the country" behind president of the United States.

Really? Because most of us in Michigan -- from the state house to the cul-de-sac to the ghetto -- want to know how hard it has been to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Dave Bing's tenure as mayor has been an unmitigated disaster. Witness the revolving carousel of top administrators and directors. I lost count after 60.

Detroit, the murder capital, has no chief of police after the last one left in disgrace when it came to light that his badge-wearing girlfriends were sucking on their revolvers and keeping the condoms. Bing fired Chief Ralph Godbee for that, but never held him to task for the spiraling crime rate.

Bing's chief operating officer recently resigned after accomplishing the unimaginable -- finding a fiscal cliff at the bottom of a fiscal cliff.

The mayor is surrounded by a retinue of surly, self-serving deputies who fluff his foot pillow while assuring the manicured monarch of the Manoogian Mansion that all is well.

The city spins into oblivion and Bing whines to CNN and insults the City of Detroit. He holds news conferences promising improvements: a plan to get the garbage collected, to streamline purchasing, to bring down crime, to tear down houses, to balance the budget, to collect taxes, to buy new ambulances, to right-size Detroit, to get the lights turned on, blah, blah, blah.

He promised a bunch and he delivered on none of it.

Fact of the matter is, Dave Bing doesn't even have the second-most difficult job in Detroit. How about the cop who took a bullet in the back chasing an attempted murderer through a funeral parlor even though City Hall cut his pay, increased his workday to 12 hours and whittled his pension?

How about the firefighters who have holes in their boots, arrive to fire scenes with fuel leaking from their rigs and have no toilet paper in quarters to wipe their hind ends?

Dave and his 11th floor lads who lunch have toilet paper. I checked after I cornered Jackie Martin, his chief financial officer, near the executive washroom. When I asked Martin, after all the cuts and sacrifice by city workers and citizens, why the bottom line was worse than last year, he couldn't tell me. Bing's office can't even tell us what city payroll is for a month or how much cash we have in the bank.

City Councilman Gary Brown runs a competent office.  According to their analysis of the state Financial Advisory Board's numbers, Detroit ran out of cash on Friday – payday. We are $5 million in the red as of Nov. 30 and somebody's got to be shorted. Vendors go unpaid. The precinct jails have no money for prisoner medicine. A firefighter I know hasn't got his check from the last pay period.

The city hasn't made a pension payment since August and the mayor is asking city council to defer those required payments so he can plug a hole in his miserable budget, according to Brown's people. Fat chance.  At minimum the pension funds will sue. At worst, it will invite an FBI probe.

The state won't release $30 million in escrowed money because Bing can't round up the votes on City Council to go along with state demands. The city's bond ratings have been downgraded yet again to way below junk, in large part due to Bing's skippering of the ship into the financial iceberg.

He's lost the public. He's lost the business community. Even Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano's people marvel at Bing's ineptitude. Ficano's people!

"We are in an environment, I think of entitlement," Bing told the CNN national audience. "We've got a lot of people who are city workers who for years and years, 20, 30, years, think they are entitled to a job and all that comes with it."

This from a guy who campaigned that he would not take a salary but rather donate his check to the police department.

I found out last year that he was indeed secretly taking a paycheck. His spokesman told me then that Bing was "entitled to it."

Dave should take a long look in the mirror -- which is owned by the people of Detroit. He should ask himself does he really want to be here. If not, he should get gone.

And if he does dribble his way back across Eight Mile, don't worry. Things couldn't get any worse.


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