DETROIT (WWJ) – Several city leaders and community members are reacting to what Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said during his third State of the City address Wednesday night.
Speaking at the Erma Henderson Auditorium in City Hall, Bing said he and Gov. Snyder agreed that an emergency manager was not an option for Detroit. But State Department of Treasury Director Andy Dillon said he won’t pre-judge the current review team looking over the city’s finances.
“The Governor, at the end of the day, has the discretion about what he will do with the recommendation from the review team. So, if they were to recommend that, he would probably think the governor would reject it,” said Dillon.
Bing said in his speech that fixing Detroit “requires real talk, continued transparency and real action.” Arise Detroit executive director Luther Keith said mere words alone won’t solve the city’s problems — everyone from the mayor on down has to get involved.
“It’s not just the mayor’s announcement or the mayor’s speech, it’s what the residents and citizens do in addition to what he and the city government does to make Detroit,” said Keith.
Bing also said a new initiative will allow homeowners in some parts of the city to buy vacant lots adjacent to their properties for $200. The city also is on track to complete a promised demolition of 10,000 vacant houses before the end of his term.
President of the Detroit Chapter of NAACP Rev. Wendell Anthony said the idea is a good one, but he’s warning about well-heeled land speculators.
“These people, and God bless them, but Dan Loepp and Dan Gilbert, they’re not buying up property in the city of Detroit just to give it away. Let’s not be fooled by that,” said Anthony.
In his speech, Bing mentioned a local teenager that has turned his life around, becoming part of the solution instead of being a part of the city’s problems.
“I almost teared up but, you know, I expected the moment to be big. They told me ahead of time so, I prepared very well for it,” said 17-year-old Osborn High School senior Daunte Kennedy.
Kennedy, a former gang member who was pointed out for turning his life around and helping police and community leaders fight crime, said police-citizen involvement is key.
“More recreation centers, more ‘stop the violence’ basketball games, more involvement in the community, more police watches, a whole bunch of that,” he said.
Several people called the WWJ Listener Comment Line at 248-455-7230 with their reaction of the speech.
“I thought he articulated the hopes of the city really well. I think he addressed the fears overriding everyone’s minds these days about the emergency manager and what else has to be shut down, who else has to be laid off. He got to those right away, told what he was doing to fix everything, to work to make it a better place. I think he hit a home run,” one woman said.
Another caller was glad Bing talked about doing things for the city’s residents.
“The only significant thing that I heard was that the community centers will be remaining open for the senior citizens and the young people. I think that’s very good,” he said.
But another listener sensed an ulterior motive.
“He wants to just bust the unions where it was just like his shops that he had in Detroit, non-union and what not, and bust everything down to where we’re back in the stone ages. He wants to cut out union bargaining, but that’s not the solution,” he said.
This caller was upset at over what mayor did not cover in his speech.
“He did not mention how millions of dollars could be given to this city through his administration to help the disenfranchised and as a result of poor management hose millions have gone back to the government. I cannot understand that,” one man said.
Another man said the city has allowed itself to fall into disrepair.
“Sixty years ago when I was a kid coming across the bridge from Canada to the US, that areas has looked the same 60 years a go as it does today,” he said.
But one caller thinks everyone just needs to “suck it up” and quit judging Bing’s decisions.
“In these tough economic times, we’re lucky to have Dave Bing and we’re lucky to have Snyder, and we need to all sit down and shut up and let those two gentlemen do their jobs,” she said.
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