By Carol Cain
It was talk of fiscal woes and marriage that grabbed headlines as Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano took to the Detroit Economic Club’s storied stage and discussed the road ahead.
The foursome—known as the region’s ‘Big Four’ – appeared at the 4th annual DEC event held at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center staged along with the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and CBS 62.
I moderated the “Big Four” conversation which aired as a special “Michigan Matters” on Sunday.
On money woes – specifically the Motor City’s fiscal crisis — Patterson said Detroit needed an emergency financial manager to start, “kicking ass and taking names” to get its house in order.
Detroit faces an accumulated deficit of nearly $327 million and is working on a plan to cut another $90 million by June 30.
A state-appointed team is reviewing the city’s finances and could recommend appointment of an emergency manager within weeks.
Bing countered that bringing in one person to try and resolve Detroit’s woes wouldn’t improve upon the team of executives and consultants already working under the city’s current consent agreement with the state.
“I do think that we have the team and the talent here in Detroit to work our way through the process,” Bing said.
Patterson mentioned Pontiac Emergency Manager Louis Schimmel who eliminated that city’s police department and made other changes that lead to its credit rating being recently upgraded.
Bing added the city has made as many cuts as it can and is looking to leverage some of the new investment in the city to raise revenue.
The ties that bind
The political leaders also offered some final words on a host of issues.
Ficano announced his daughter had gotten married in August.
Hackel, 50, a lifelong bachelor, followed up by telling people he had gotten engaged on Christmas Day.
“Word started to get out … and my staff is over there snickering… This is an uncomfortable moment. So, I’m just going to give it – I got engaged on Christmas Day!” Hackel said.
He got engaged to Tracie Damschroder, 31, of Shelby Township.
They met eight years ago at Macomb Community College.
Hackel, who is in the midst of his first term as county executive, also repeated a few times during the event he would not run for governor in 2014.
(Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and Host of “Michigan Matters” airing 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. She writes about politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.)