Dave Bing was elected mayor of Detroit in a special election on May 5, 2009 and was sworn in on May 11, He won the full-term mayoral election on November 3, 2009, defeating challenger Tom Barrow.

2011

May: Deputy mayor Saul Green resigns.

June:

  • former City employee Rochelle Collins files a lawsuit against the administration
  • Karen Dumas is dismissed, the culmination of public dissatisfaction with her actions in the administration. Commentary leading up included an anonymous letter and allegations of a difficult work environment in Collins' lawsuit.

July

  • Kirk Lewis becomes the Mayor's only direct report. All departments will report through him.
  • Finance director Tom Lijana resigns.

October

Strong Cities Initiative

A partnership with the federal government to embed federal staff in several City positions, possibly including Housing and Urban Development, Human Services Department, and DDOT. Expected to be announced July 11 at the Detroit Economic Club. Snyder had been meeting with Obama administration officials to search for possible assistance for Detroit, and this is one expected outcome.

2011 Financial Crisis

Damning financial report

In early November, 2011, Dave Bing announced that the city may need an emergency financial manager to counter fiscal problems and that he would be willing to fill the role. Earlier in 2011, Bing made this threat to bring unions to negotiations. The City Council responded that a manger would not help the city, and that the council could deal with many of the problems. Sen. Coleman Young II and Senate Democratic Floor Leader Tupac Hunter voiced objections.

A confidential report by Ernst & Young said the city may run out of money in February or April 2012. Laying off 2,200 employees would only postpone the end until July. The report was sourced by the Free Press. Bing announced he would speak about the crisis on the evening of November 16 at the Northwest Activities Center. Snyder's spokesman said that the governor did not know what Bing would announce. The City Council, fearing a "permanent recess," called off their 2011 holiday recess. The report cost $1.7M.

Mayor's reaction

On November 16, 2011, Bing held a televised press conference at the Northwest Activities Center to announce several steps to shore up the budget and improve services. We have copied the full text of Dave Bing's November 16, 2011 speech. He removed all overtime caps and furlough requirements for the 200 DDOT mechanics, and expects them bring 25 additional busses into servie every month until March 2012. He has begun the process of selecting a management firm for the service.

The City will be contracting with DTE to replace 3,000 streetlight lamps in dense areas that would otherwise be serviced by the Public Lighting Department. The Department is also hiring one journeyman and several additional employees to repair or replace the grid that powers other stripped and obsolete lights, which should bring 2,000 additional lights on line.

Bing also asked for concessions from City employees. His plan calls for eliminating furlough days in exchange for a 10% pay cut, a 10% increase in employee healthcare contributions, and unspecified pension and work rule reforms.

Bing is asking the state for about $220M in revenue sharing funds that were guaranteed in exchange for lowering taxes in 1998. Bing also said "I don’t want an emergency manager making decisions for my city."

Any outsourcing will have to follow the city's privatization ordinance.

Friday, November 18: Bing's office said he would not request a state financial review, which is a first step in the process to appoint an Emergency Financial Manager. He is hoping to reduce costs by up to $150M / year.

Bing announced that 1,000 employees would be laid off by February. Layoff notices would begin January 21. Departments would start to identify employees beginning on December 5. The City Council is expected to propose a plan that would cut at least 1,700 positions.

16 Detroit Police officers also walked off their shift at least four hours early, apparently in protest of the 10% pay cut.

Negotiations with City Council

City Council quickly began planning its own, steeper cuts, worrying that Bing was not doing enough to prevent state takeover. Initial Council proposals had the city laying off 2,300 employees, including 500 police and firefighters. Bing has consistently said he will not lay off public safety personell, and added that he would "go to war" with Council.

Council also considered closing recreation centers, selling property and parking lots, cutting from police and fire, and cutting cultural subsidies, including the Detroit Zoo, Eastern Market , the DIA, and the Museum of African American History. Council suggested raising the income tax to 3% for residents and 1.5% for non-residents. They debated a 30% cut to the Council budget and settled on 10%. They did not discuss giving up perks such as city-owned cars.

Both the Council and the mayor agreed that the City's 48 unions must give $100M in annual concessions.

Councilman Gary Brown said he would prefere a consent agreement that would give the Council more power to create a plan. Others, including JoAnn Watson, said the consent agreement would simply get the city further along the path to an EFM.

Governor's Intervention

In late November, a source in the Governor's office told the Detroit News that the mayor and council had little time to find a solution. Sources said that the Governor was frustrated by the Mayor's hostile relationship to Council.

In October 2011, Bing told the Detroit News he would be willing to be the EFM of Detroit, but by November, he was rejecting that suggestion. He also said that he had met with more than 100 local leaders to raise support for his plan. In December, he said a consent agreement wouldn't give him the power necessary to force union concessions

Snyder became more publicly involved in early December as challenges to the EFM process and financial deadlines loomed. State Treasurer Andy Dillon ordered a 30-day financial review of the city on Friday, December 2nd, and the process began on December 6. A financial review is the first step towards creating a consent decree or EFM. The driving motivations behind the review are a city debt burden of over $10 billion and the financial forecast that shows the city running out of money by April. The City started delaying payments to vendors.

On December 13, 2011, the City Council voted 6-2 to not cut more than $4M from the Council budget. On Twitter the next day, Charles Pugh said that the Council has already cut its budget by 27% in 2011 and laid off staffers. He added that members do not have bodyguards or drivers and pay for gas and maintenance on their city vehicles. On December 15, the Council voted to end furlough days and set a 10% pay cut for non-union employees.

Sources

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