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  Mayor Dave Bing: Can He Stop the Slide in Detroit?
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Last EditedMonsieur  Sep 27, 2009 10:42am
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AuthorSteven Gray
MediaWeekly News Magazine - TIME Magazine
News DateSaturday, September 26, 2009 04:40:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionBing assumed the mayoralty in a special election in May, after the fall of Kwame Kilpatrick, whose promising political career was dashed in a sex-text-messaging scandal that led to a conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Now Bing, 65, is facing a Nov. 3 election for a full term. To most Detroiters, Bing — despite his basketball fame — often seems a remote, unknowable figure, and the feeling is mutual. He only recently bought a home in the city and still maintains one in an affluent Detroit suburb. To date, he has declined to use Detroit's mayoral mansion.

Yet he may be the right man for one of the most thankless jobs in America. Bing inherited a budget deficit of at least $275 million, an unemployment rate of about 29% and a city government that barely functions. His turnaround strategy hinges not on personal warmth but on two key arguments: First, Detroit must reduce the size of its 42 government agencies to be proportionate to a city with a shrinking population and smaller coffers. That, in turn, means potentially reducing the city's job rolls from 13,200 to about 12,000 by the end of 2009 — a risky proposition in a region with historically strong unions. It's a strategy that's particularly dangerous in an election year. So far, Bing seems unfazed by both the challenges and his constituents' skepticism: only 17% of Detroit's registered voters bothered to show up at the polls for the August primary. "Changes that should have happened 20 years ago are now upon us," Bing told me. "Previous administrations had folks who were so concerned about getting elected, or re-elected. I'm not worried about that."
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