Rochelle Riley says Mayor Dave Bing's Ideas Are Good but Detroit Needs Action so It Can be Fixed

4798Sometimes, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing gets a bad rap.

He stepped up -- and stepped into the big pile of doo the former mayor left on his way out the door.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivers his fourth State of the City address at the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in midtown Detroit. / Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press
He stared down his worst opponents -- tradition, entitlement and politics -- to try to change the way the city functions.

And he made progress on some things he attempted -- sort of a seven out of 12 shooting record:

• His team razed two-thirds of the 10,000 buildings he promised.

• His team cut city staff by 25%.

• His team helped clean up the Detroit water department.

• His team helped create a regional authority to oversee Cobo Center and keep the annual auto show right here where it belongs.

But as Janet Jackson sang: What have you done for me lately? When you're Da Mayor, people don't want to hear what you did; they want to hear what you're going to do.

In Detroit, that means what are you going to do about crime?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where Bing has earned the bad rap -- and where he has shown, perhaps, his greatest weakness.

He's not playing basketball, he's playing golf. And residents, even those who feel Bing is a good guy, need him to run rather than walk, be urgent rather than thoughtful.

Wednesday night, Bing gave a State of the City address that could have been written last year. Actually, the speech's opening was last year's: He talked about entering office with a $332-million budget deficit under a cloud of corruption in a city whose population declined more than any other in the last decade.

Yes, the mayor inherited a mess. But that excuse only works for about the first year, as President Barack Obama has learned. After that, his choice was simple: bold action or non-action.

The mayor said again Wednesday night that he isn't a politician, but after three years, he should be a politician by now -- because the politics of government require that you find a way to make things work, no matter what.

Source: Detroit Free Press | Rochelle Riley
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