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Dave Bing

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder will announce his final determination Thursday on a review of Detroit's finances - a move that could include the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

That announcement is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Detroit, an hour before a state board responsible for hiring emergency managers for distressed Michigan cities and public school districts is to hold a special meeting in Lansing.

Snyder has said an emergency manager selection for Detroit has to go before the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board.

WXYZ-TV reports two vehicles blocked traffic on eastbound I-94 this morning near the Lodge Freeway in Detroit.

Michigan State Police say the vehicles stopped traffic as a protest against the impending emergency manager appointment in Detroit.

More from WXYZ-TV

Two vehicles involved in what Michigan State Police are calling a protest brought traffic to a halt on EB I-94 near the Lodge Freeway in Detroit Monday morning.

Police were able to pull the protestors over and write them citations.

The vehicles had signs on them, one reading "Democracy" and another reading "Detroit emergency manager."

They are upset over Governor Rick Snyder declaring the city of Detroit is in the midst of a financial emergency and the search for an emergency financial manager.

They report this isn't the first time protestors have backed up traffic.

On Wednesday, a handful of protestors slowed traffic on southbound Interstate 75 near Interstate 94 in Detroit. Traffic also was backed up on northbound I-75.

The city is appealing the state's decision that the city is in a 'financial emergency' and that city leaders have no plan to address the problem.

A hearing over the matter is scheduled for tomorrow.

The Detroit City Council will press a challenge to Governor Snyder’s decision appointing an emergency financial manager—but they’ll do so without Mayor Dave Bing’s support.

The Council voted to approve that challenge Wednesday afternoon. Bing then held a late afternoon press conference declaring his opposition to the Council's tactics.

“I tried to figure out a way to support the Council in their efforts to appeal the Governor’s decision and to challenge the Financial Review Team’s assertion that we did not have a plan in place to fiscally stabilize the City,” Bing told reporters.

City of Detroit

Gov. Rick Snyder's office just put out a news release saying the Governor will hold a "forum with invited Detroiters to discuss Detroit's financial situation."

It will be held at tomorrow at noon at the Detroit Public Television studios, 5057 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

A live stream will be available as well.

It's widely expected that Gov. Snyder will appoint an emergency manager for the city.

Earlier today, the Detroit Free Press reported that Mayor Dave Bing said he doesn't expect Snyder to offer a name tomorrow:

UStream

Last night, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing reaffirmed the city’s financial troubles, outlined some of the ways his administration has worked to cut costs and still maintain basic city services and introduced programs to demolish the Brewster projects and establish a Detroit Blight Authority.

The Mayor said the story of Detroit is not all doom and gloom and quote, "we can’t – we won’t give up on our city," he said.

Mayor Bing joined us today.

And we talked with Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek about Bing and his speech.

Take a listen to our conversation with him above.

UStream

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s state of the city speech last night didn’t focus a whole lot on the city’s financial problems.

Instead, Mayor Bing talked a lot about slow but steady progress on some of his administration’s big goals.

He started by briefly addressing the city’s grim finances, and laid some of the blame at Lansing's feet.

“The total amount of cutbacks in state revenue sharing to Detroit over the past 11 years is more than $700 million,” said Bing.

Bing says this has forced him to make some difficult and unpopular decisions, but he says the city has made progress cutting costs, combating blight and bringing in new development.

“While we can proudly point to all these successes, my job is not done. And neither is yours,” he said.

While he says there’s more to accomplish, Bing still won’t say whether he'll run for re-election in November.

During the speech, he focused on some of his big policy initiatives, and on his success in getting the private sector onboard with those ideas.

He announced a new initiative in the speech.

“Bill Pulte, of Pulte homes, one of this nation’s largest home-builders, has created a private, non-profit group called the Detroit Blight Authority. The group is working with my office to eliminate blight,” said Bing.

Bing says he’s also taken steps to address Detroit’s persistent crime problems.

He says the police chief will launch a new collaborative program this month to crack down on gun crimes.

You can watch the speech online here:

The 313 Project / via facebook

Volunteer groups in Detroit are still absorbing news that the city will stop maintaining about 50 parks in the spring.

It’s especially upsetting for the many neighborhood and volunteer groups that already work hard to help maintain those parks throughout the year.

A group of former Wayne State University law students make up the 313 Project. They semi-adopted Romanowski Park in southwest Detroit last summer for a “Motion to Makeover” last summer.

Director Aisa Berg says the group marshaled volunteers and nearly $30,000 to invest in upgrading the park. They installed trash cans, bike racks, picnic tables, and helped board and clean up houses surrounding the park

Since the makeover, Berg says she’s heard lots of positive feedback about improvements in the area. “It’s been great just driving around the park, seeing the park being used, whole families coming to the park to barbecue,” Berg says.

Romanowski is one of the parks the city plans to stop maintaining in the spring. But Berg says the group will stick with the park because they’ve “come too far to go back.” But she calls the planned closure “a shame.”

“In a lot of ways, it seems that the city has turned its back on these efforts,” Berg says. She says it would be “wonderful” if the group could develop a more formal relationship with the city to maintain the park.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced the park closures last week, after the Detroit City Council effectively rejected a deal that would have made Belle Isle into a state park.

Bing says that deal would have saved the city $6 million that they had counted on to invest in other parks and rec centers. But since that’s no longer possible, they’re being forced to close parks, and maintain others less frequently.

That includes parts of Rouge Park, Detroit’s largest park at nearly 1200 acres on its far west side. Part of the park will be closed, while another portion will be maintained regularly as a so-called “premier” city park.

That’s upsetting news to the Friends of Rouge Park, a group that’s worked to protect and restore the park since 2002.

Sally Petrella is the group’s President. She says they’ve been working on a master plan for the park—and have been trying to leverage that to get additional money.

“Which is part of what makes us really disappointed to hear that the mayor wants to shut down the park,” Petrella said. “It really puts a damper on efforts like that, where we’re actually working to bring more money to the park.”

Petrella says the park is too large for a volunteer group to maintain on their own—there needs to be at least some small budget allocation just to cut the grass.

Still, Petrella is hopeful they can reach some kind of deal to keep the whole park open.

“We need to come together and say these parks are important,” Petrella said. Like we did with the zoo, like we did with the DIA.

“These are resources, assets that we all benefit from, but we need to find a way to foot the bill.”

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Detroit firefighters have won the right to subpoena and depose top members of Mayor Dave Bing’s administration.

The firefighters union is suing the city. They say that decisions to close firehouses have jeopardized public safety in violation of the city charter and national fire protection standards—and have left targeted areas of the city virtually without adequate service.

Detroit Firefighters Association President Dan McNamara says they’re “looking for the decision-makers,” and they want them under oath.

City of Detroit

The city of Detroit will close 50 parks in the spring because of the City Council’s inaction on a proposal to make Belle Isle into a state park.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says that would have freed up about $6 million for the city to invest in other parks and recreation centers—and that effectively means $6 million they’d counted on to bolster other park services have disappeared.

So the city is responding by making cuts: closing 50 parks, limiting maintenance at another 38, and canceling plans to extend rec center hours and add 50 employees.

The Detroit Police Department is launching a major re-organization to put more officers on the street.

On Wednesday, Detroit mayor Dave Bing and police officials finally unveiled the plan that’s been in the works for awhile.

Detroit Economic Club

Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” met up for their annual public conversation at Cobo Hall in Detroit Thursday.

The group is made up of the Wayne county executive Robert Ficano, Oakland county executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Macomb county executive Mark Hackel, plus Detroit mayor Dave Bing.

The event usually stresses regional cooperation and all-around good feelings between the four leaders.

A long-awaited—and controversial-- long-term vision for Detroit’s future emerged Wednesday.

“Detroit Future City” is the result of a two-year effort called The Detroit Works Project, one of Mayor Dave Bing’s signature initiatives.

It comes after two years of community meetings, fact-finding, and exhaustive planning—“the broadest, deepest, and most comprehensive look at Detroit that’s ever been done,” according to its creators.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

State of the State to address road funding

"Governor Rick Snyder plans to propose a more detailed plan to boost spending to maintain roads in next week's State of the State address. His previous calls for an additional $1.4 billion a year for roads and bridges stalled in the Legislature. Snyder in 2011 called for replacing the 19-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline with a tax on the wholesale price of fuel. He also suggested a source of new revenue could be higher vehicle registration fees. Snyder says that he'll present new specifics in his Jan. 16 speech," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit top lawyer fired

"Detroit’s top lawyer lost her job Tuesday. Mayor Dave Bing garnered enough Detroit City Council votes to remove corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon. Crittendon continually bucked Bing’s wishes, and challenged Detroit’s consent agreement with Lansing in court. Bing had tried to have Crittendon removed before. But he couldn’t muster the necessary six votes from City Council. But this time, Bing got exactly six votes. Bing and state officials said Crittendon’s legal challenges threatened to derail Detroit’s efforts to regain its financial footing. This all comes as Detroit awaits a verdict from a state-appointed financial review team—expected as early as this week," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Young drivers banned from using phones

"Young and inexperienced motorists will be banned from using cell phones while driving under a bill Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Tuesday. Kelsey's Law is named after Kelsey Raffaele of Sault Ste. Marie, who was 17 when she died in a cell-phone-related automobile crash in 2010," the Detroit Free Press reports.

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Multiple reports indicate a major shake-up is in the works for the Detroit Police Department.

The move would reportedly disband several units within the department, in order to redeploy more officers to street patrol.

That’s the type of plan some in law enforcement circles have advocated for some time.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says the city might “borrow” personnel to replenish its management ranks.

Bing says Detroit is “very stretched, very light at the management level” right now. The city has hacked away at its management ranks to cut costs in recent years.

Officials have said that lack of expertise, especially at the middle management level, is now holding back the city’s effort to make structural reforms—but there’s no money to fix it.

But Bing says the city is trying to get help another way.

Some Detroit firefighters got early Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve--new mattresses for their firehouse.

Art Van Furniture is donating 150 mattresses. 14 were delivered to a firehouse on the city’s east side Monday.

The gifts highlight how many Detroit services are heavily subsidized by private donations. The donation is part of a broader campaign to garner private donations for the city’s public safety and recreation centers.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says the city hasn’t made the necessary investments in those places “for a long time.”

News of some Detroit city employees receiving raises and bonuses is raising eyebrows, as the city struggles to stave off a possible state-appointed emergency manager.

Union officials, Detroit City Council members and others are asking why some city officials apparently received raises and longevity pay last week.

Longevity pay is a kind of bonus provided to employees based on seniority. Mayor Dave Bing eliminated the perk for union workers in 2010, and had promised to eliminate it for all city employees.

The debate over appointing a Detroit emergency financial manger continues amidst aggravated communication between Mayor Bing and Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon.

Detroit Free Press editorial writer Nancy Kaffer provided Stateside with an update on Detroit City Council.

“The City of Detroit needed to draw $30 million dollars- and to get the draw the Council had to pass five key contracts. All five passed, so they will get the money that will stop payless paydays for now,” said Kaffer.

Kaffer expressed concern over the relationship between the mayor and Crittendon.

InspiredDesMoines / flickr

By passing five key reform measures Tuesday, the Detroit City Council took an important step away from the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

But, as Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports, the risk remains.

From the Freep:

Detroit city officials are sending some mixed signals when it comes to the city’s crumbling finances.

On the one hand, officials said Tuesday that the city won’t run out of cash this month. They had previously said that would happen without state help, in the form of releasing at least $30 million in Detroit bond money the state is withholding.

On the other hand, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis says the city faces an even bigger than expected cash shortfall by the middle of next year.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit deadlock continues

Detroit needs cash if it's going to make payroll in December. $30 million waits from the state.

But Mayor Bing and the Detroit City Council are locked in a battle over a law firm contract. A special council meeting was supposed to be held yesterday to resolve the problem, but the the city's legal department canceled the meeting.

Even it the meeting had been held, Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports, Bing would not have had the votes to end the deadlock.

Had a vote been taken, it likely would not have gone Bing's way. The sole council member to vote to approve it, President Pro Tem Gary Brown, said Monday that the Bing administration "doesn't have the votes" to reverse course.

And the city's financial crisis looms.

Legislature aims to cut a source of revenue for some cities

There have been a lot of proposals floated in this lame-duck session of the Michigan legislature, but one plan the Gov. hopes to pass by the end of the year is a phase out of the "personal property tax."

That's a tax that many manufacturers pay to local governments on equipment they own. Local governments that have a big manufacturing base have said eliminating the tax would hurt their bottom line.

MLive's Dave Eggert reports Lt. Gov. Brian Calley plans to unveil a new plan to cut the tax today:

Sources who have been briefed on the proposal said key changes include partially replacing the revenue with a portion of the state's tax on out-of-state retail transactions and allowing local governments to assess a special tax to recoup money for police, fire and ambulance services.

Troy breaks ground on new transit center

The city of Troy is breaking ground on a new transit center today. The project was opposed by Troy's recently recalled Mayor, Janice Daniels, because the funding for the project is comging from the federal government. The transit center will cost $6.3 million to build and will house facilities for bus, train, and car rental services. The transit center will replace Birmingham's Amtrak stop. It's expected to open the summer of 2013.

Detroit won’t elect its next mayor for nearly a year, but the field is already getting crowded.

Detroit State Representative Fred Durhal threw his hat in the ring Monday.

Durhal is a veteran of Detroit politics. He cut his teeth under longtime former Detroit mayor Coleman Young, and is now in his third term in the Michigan State House, where he sits on the appropriations committee.

Efforts to resolve a dispute that’s pushed Detroit to the brink of financial crisis flopped again on Monday.

Mayor Dave Bing called a special meeting with the City Council, hoping Council members would approve a contract with law firm Miller Canfield.

Lansing is sitting on $30 million in Detroit bond money because Council didn’t approve that contract, which was part of a “milestone agreement” between Bing and state officials.

Stateside: Nolan Finley's call for Detroit City Council reform

Nov 26, 2012
Detroit City Council
Detroit City Council / Facebook

Nolan Finley is concerned about Detroit City Council.

In a recent Detroit News editorial, Finley claimed that Detroit Corporate Council Krystal Crittendon “must go.”  

Finley spoke with Cyndy about Detroit’s drastic need to reform its Council.

“The mayor has finally got the message that you have to cooperate or this won’t end well. City Council is still under the delusion that it has power and can escape the consequences of decades of bad management,” said Finley.

Detroit City Council
Detroit City Council / Facebook

Detroit Mayor Bing called for a special meeting today to address the city's impending cash crisis. 

The council was ready to meet, but it appears the meeting was called off after concerns were raised about following the Open Meetings Act.

From WDIV:

A special Detroit City Council meeting on Monday was halted when the city's law department said it hadn't followed the Open Meetings Act.

Bing had called for the meeting in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to request the City Council to adopt a resolution to approve a legal services contract for Miller Canfield. The mayor had also wanted City Council to adopt a resolution that would amend the city's 2012-2013 budget to address a pension shortfall.

While the meeting was open to the public, concern arose because the notice for the meeting was posted Sunday -- when the building isn't open. It's a requirement of the Open Meetings Act that a notice be posted in public.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing says he’ll resort to mandated employee furlough days before letting the city go broke.

The city is facing a likely $18 million cash shortfall next month. That’s despite having a consent agreement with the state that’s intended to avoid just such a crisis.

This week, the Detroit City Council voted down a contract with a law firm. That relatively small item was crucial to the city’s cash situation because it was part of a “milestone agreement” laying out conditions for releasing Detroit bond money the state is holding in escrow.

The Spirit of Detroit is ready for Game 1 of the World Series.
Matt Helms / Twitter

This photo was tweeted out by Matt Helms, City Hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Helms writes in today's Detroit Free Press that Mayor Bing has been trash talking with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The two have made a wager, writes Helms, "the losing mayor has to visit the other team’s city to participate in a day of service for youth and youth programs."

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has suspended Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

“After learning of the allegations regarding Chief Ralph Godbee, I have placed him on a 30-day suspension pending a full and thorough investigation of this matter," Bing said in a statement released Tuesday.

The "allegations" come from a Detroit police officer, Angelica Robinson, who says she was sexually involved with Godbee.

Detroit Firehouse / via facebook

Detroit’s first responders say they’re under siege from all angles—and some officers say their ranks are reaching a breaking point.

Detroit’s police and fire departments have taken some steep cuts in the past few months. Police officers in particular have taken major pay and benefit cuts, and are now working twelve-hour shifts.

And relations with city leaders have turned downright hostile. At a community meeting with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing last week, that anger boiled over.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is still being coy about whether he’s running for a second term.

Even though the primary election is still just under a year away, the field is already getting crowded. Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan announced he’s strongly considering a run this week.

But Bing is still keeping mum on his plans—at least publicly.

“All I’m interested in right now is getting work done,” Bing said Thursday. “I’m focusing on several things. And you know that our city is…under siege. My focus has to be on the next 15 months.”

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