MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ) – “I think he’s using it, at this point, judiciously to make sure that he can use it as leverage more than anything else,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, when asked about the threat of bankruptcy that looms over the city.
Speaking before hundreds of Michigan’s political and businesses leaders on Mackinac Island on Wednesday, Bing spoke a bit about what’s it’s been like to work with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who was hired by the state to sort out Detroit’s messy finances.
“He said to me, more than once, ‘[Bankruptcy] is not where I want to go, but at least it’s on the table, and if I have to go there, nobody’s gonna like it,'” Bing said.
The mayor was asked what he would have done differently to avoid the appointment of an Emergency Manager.
“When you talk about a $15 billion debt and long-term liability issue, you don’t solve that in a short period of time. So that is somebody else’s issue at some point,” Bing said, to laughter from the crowd. “And I’m glad that’s not me!”
Bing also talked about the issue of residency. Specifically, he addressed the fact that citizens — important citizens — have been leaving the city in droves.
“The people who were the most important that left, in my opinion, were the public safety officials — the police and fire,” Bing said.
“When they were in neighborhoods and the community, people felt a little safer,” he said. “But now with more than 50 percent of them no longer living in the city, not only don’t people feel safe anymore, but you also lose the tax benefits that you were getting.”
Bing said he thinks it would make sense pass a law that mandates that new employees of the city remain residents of the city of a period of seven years.
“In seven years a lot of things can change. And I’m hopeful in seven years we’ll see the city change and people will want to come back to the city,” he said.
WWJ Newsradio 950′s Roberta Jasina, Tom Jordan, Vickie Thomas and Charlie Langton are on Mackinac Island covering the conference. Stay tuned for live broadcasts, Thursday and Friday.