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We’ve known for awhile that Detroit’s finances are reaching a crisis point. It’s believed the city could run out of money within the next few months. News broke yesterday evening that the Snyder Administration will try to remedy the situation. Governor Snyder will lay out details of a proposed consent agreement to members of the Detroit City Council today. A consent agreement would give the city’s elected officials broad powers… similar to those of an emergency manager.

steveburt1947 / Flickr

Governor Snyder will lay out details of a proposed consent agreement to members of the Detroit City Council on Tuesday.

Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who leads the state review team looking at Detroit’s finances, have suggested a consent agreement for weeks.

That measure could give the city’s elected officials broad powers similar to those of an emergency manager.

Ifmuth / Flickr

Update 7:15 a.m.:

Bing spokeswoman Naomi Patton said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday morning that the mayor has no such specific plans, however, to seek the help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Original post:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing plans to ask the state of Michigan for a $125 million to $150 million loan to shore up Detroit's finances and avoid a state-appointed emergency manager.

Bing's plans to seek the help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder were reported Thursday evening by The Wall Street Journal following an interview with the Democratic mayor.

The Detroit News reported Friday that Bing's office confirmed the plans. Bing spokeswoman Naomi Patton tells the newspaper a request hasn't yet been formally made to Snyder.

The Associated Press sent emails Friday morning seeking comment from Patton and the governor's office.

Detroit faces cash flow problems and a nearly $200 million budget deficit. Bing and Snyder have said they would prefer to avoid an emergency manager. A consent agreement is a possibility.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city is “at a critical and pivotal time like none in Detroit’s history."

But during his third annual State of the City address, Bing gave few details about how he’ll deal with the city’s most immediate threat: running out of cash.

Bing said both he and Governor Snyder “agree that an emergency manager is not the best option” for Detroit.

Corvair Owner / Flickr

Mayor Dave Bing will deliver his third State of the City address as he, the City Council and union leaders seek fiscal answers to keep the state from appointing an emergency manager.

He's giving the speech at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Erma Henderson Auditorium at City Hall.

In prior years, the event was held at the Max Fisher Music Center. The move to City Hall is designed to save money. A preliminary review from the state showed a nearly $200 million general fund deficit for 2011.

Municipal unions have yet to ratify concessions aimed at cutting into the deficit.

A review team is looking over the city's books to determine if a financial emergency exists, a step that could lead to Gov. Rick Snyder appointing an emergency manager.

jalopnik.com

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city.

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured.

Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

There were some testy exchanges at a Detroit City Council hearing on bus service Monday, as Council members and citizens wanted to know when they can expect the city’s notoriously bad bus service to improve.

Department statistics show that city buses miss stops or otherwise fail to service their routes about one-third of the time. Transit advocates suggest that number is probably too low.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says a new CEO and new fleet of buses will help turn around the city’s struggling transportation department.

The Detroit Department of Transportation has been struggling for months to put enough buses on the streets.

In what the city calls a bid to both improve service and cut costs, they’ve brought in a private contractor to manage the bus system.

Members of the Detroit City Council want more answers about how the city will avoid running out of cash.

Mayor Dave Bing hammered out tentative agreements with most city employee unions, including police and firefighters. They worked as a state review team continues to pore over Detroit's finances, as part of the process that could lead to the state appointing an emergency manager for the city.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The mayor's office and firefighters' union have agreed to a tentative deal on concessions aimed at cutting the city's budget deficit. Both sides say they wanrt to keep Detroit's finances out of the hands of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Mayor Dave Bing's office says Saturday in a release that the agreement still must be ratified by the 1,014 members of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.   Bing's office issued a written statement Saturday:

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Governor Snyder endorses Romney, but will it help?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder officially endorsed Mitt Romney for president. In an opinion piece in the Detroit News, Governor Snyder wrote:

The American economy as a whole remains in difficult straits. Our next president must understand how markets work and know how to get our nation back on track. Mitt Romney is the man for the job.

Polls show Romney trailing Santorum in Michigan. If Romney loses here, Matt Viser writes in Boston.com, it would be a big blow to his campaign:

A Romney loss in Michigan - the state where he grew up, the state his father governed, the state he says he loves - would not only breathe further life into Santorum’s campaign but could derail Romney’s.

Federal prosecutors charge top Wayne County employee

Tahir Kazmi, Wayne County's Chief Information Officer, has been charged with extortion and obstruction of justice.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that federal prosecutors charged Kazmi "with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government."  Kazmi is also charged with extortion for allegedly demanding cash and expensive trips in exchange for awarding county contracts.

The federal investigation in Wayne County began after the Turkia Mullin severance scandal broke last October.

Detroit Mayor Bing wants to cut bus service from 1 to 4 a.m.

Detroit's beleaguered bus system is facing more cuts. Layoffs were recently announced, now Mayor Bing's office said it want to cut early morning service.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Bing's office said it will propose ending bus service between 1 and 4 a.m. citywide and reduce service times and lengthen waits between buses on dozens of routes. The cuts would take effect March 3.

Coupled with the reductions, Detroit will institute a "truth in scheduling" pledge that buses will arrive at times posted on new city bus schedules as officials work to right the bus system as part of Bing's strategy to avoid a state financial takeover, Detroit Chief Operations Officer Chris Brown told the Free Press on Wednesday.

Big changes are in store once again for Detroit’s beleaguered bus riders.

1000 city workers will be laid off next week—including 78 bus drivers and 25 mechanics, according to Naomi Patton, a spokeswoman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

The city recently turned over management of its transportation department to a private contractor, Parsons Brinckerhoff, who sub-contracted with another company, Envisurage.

user andrea_44 / Flickr

The city of Detroit plans to find fraud in its payroll system by forcing people to show up to collect their checks.

Mailed checks, or direct deposit won't happen on February 24, according to Nancy Kaffer of Crain's Detroit Business:

On Feb. 24, Detroit employees won't be paid via direct deposit or mailed checks. Rather, employees must show up in person and present government-issued photo ID and a Social Security card.

It's called a payroll audit, and it's a good idea — the goal is to eliminate "ghost employees," or folks who no longer work for the city but continue to collect paychecks.

It's part of an ongoing effort to root out fraud, said Naomi Patton, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's press secretary. The city hadn't done one, and decided it was time.

A management consultant says this type of action is the "low hanging fruit" for a business or city trying to turn things around. Kaffer questions why Mayor Dave Bing has waited this long to do something like this.

Detroit State Representative Lisa Howze says she wants to be the city’s next Mayor—even if she has to do it alongside a state-appointed emergency manager.

Kicking off her campaign at a senior home in northeast Detroit, Howze, a first-term Democrat, said current Mayor Dave Bing’s biggest problem is a lack of vision.

She thinks that’s what Lansing is really looking for, as Governor Snyder mulls whether to appoint an emergency manager in Detroit.

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DETROIT (AP) - State Rep. Lisa L. Howze plans to run for Detroit mayor in 2013.

The Democrat announced Friday that she wouldn't seek reelection to her House seat this year and instead would run for mayor of Michigan's largest city.

Howze says her experience as a certified public accountant and finance professional would be key for the financially struggling city. She says her legislative experience in Lansing would be pivotal in gaining support that the city needs from the state.

The office of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing had no comment Friday on the announcement.

Detroit’s elected officials had hoped to resolve some big questions about the city’s financial future Tuesday.

But that didn’t happen.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing say the only way for the city to avoid an emergency manager is to get big union concessions.

Bing had hoped to get those concessions by the end of January. But the self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal.

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council met to discuss drastic actions the city might have to take if no agreement materializes soon.

Detroit’s elected leaders are still struggling to come up with a unified plan to avoid a state takeover—even as a state review team continues work in the city.

The Detroit City Council has been critical of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to save more than $100 million this fiscal year to prevent the city from running out of cash.

Members suggest it contains too many optimistic revenue projections and unrealistic assumptions.

The Council has its own list of suggestions. But in the end, they can do little more than offer them to the Mayor.

detroitworksproject.com

Detroit residents interested in Mayor Dave Bing’s planning project for the city have a place to go for information. The Detroit Works long-term planning team has just opened a walk-in office in Eastern Market.

The Detroit Economic Club hosts a public forum with Metro Detroit’s so-called “Big Four” at the Detroit Auto Show each year.

And Tuesday’s session with the Detroit Mayor and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County executives proved a bit livelier than usual.

Kate Davidson / Michigan Radio

Update 5:39 pm:

The mayor’s plan includes $360 million in savings over the next year and a half. But some city council members  say they’re skeptical.

"There’s not much here that we haven’t already heard before," Councilman Ken Cockrel said. He and others say the savings appear overly optimistic. 

Mayor Bing disagrees.

"Add up the numbers," he said. "The numbers don’t lie."

The mayor plans to present his proposal to a state review team next week. That review team could recommend an emergency manager take over the city finances. Meanwhile, his administration continues to negotiate with city unions. Bing says the unions have until the end of the month to agree to concessions, or steeper cuts and layoffs are inevitable.

1:01 pm:

The Associated Press reports that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has declared the city's financial crisis is easing, and the city is "no longer at risk of running out of cash by April as previously expected."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is following this story and will have more for us later.

More from the Associated Press:

Mayor Dave Bing on Thursday released a financial and operational restructuring plan update. It highlights cost savings from 1,000 imminent layoffs, overdue payments from the Detroit Public Schools district and a corporate tax increase that Bing says will mitigate a cash shortfall.

Bing planned to present the update Thursday afternoon to the Detroit City Council, which has scheduled discussion time for the plan.

A review team is looking into Detroit's finances - a step in a process that could lead to Michigan taking over the city's government. Its recommendations will be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Last November, Mayor Bing cited a financial audit that showed the city might run out of money this April.

Ifmuth / Flickr

The Detroit City Council has scheduled a discussion of Mayor Dave Bing's budget reduction plan. It's set for Thursday afternoon.

A review team is looking into Detroit's finances - a step in a process that could lead to Michigan taking over the city's government. Its recommendations will be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder.

A preliminary review determined there was "probable financial stress" in city government and that Detroit faces a general fund deficit of about $200 million. Auditors say Detroit may run out of money as early as April.

Bing, the council and city labor union leaders have been collaborating to convince the state that an emergency manager is unneeded.

Bing has said he'll cut 1,000 jobs early this year to save about $14 million.

user andrea_44 / Flickr

Update 3:29 p.m.

The Associated Press has this report on reaction from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city already is working to address financial problems detailed by a new state review.

Bing says in a statement Wednesday that the city plans to "fully cooperate" with the state's financial review process. His comments came after the state announced it had found that "probable financial stress" exists in the city of Detroit...

Bing has said Detroit faces a $150 million budget deficit and a projected $45 million cash shortfall, but argues that progress is being made without state oversight. He is seeking concessions from city unions and says Wednesday the goal is to forge an agreement "soon."

12:34 p.m.

"The longer it takes to address Detroit's financial problems, the more painful the potential solutions become." - State Treasurer, Andy Dillon

Michigan State Treasurer said today that their preliminary review of Detroit's finances found the city to be in "probable financial stress."

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

Governor Rick Snyder will order an intensive review of Detroit’s finances now that a team from the state Treasury has determined the city is in “probable financial stress.”

It is the next step in a process that could wind up with the governor naming an emergency manager to run the city.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon said the administration still hopes Mayor Dave Bing and the city council can come up with its own plan that would avert a state takeover.

“It’s our number one hope that the city, the city council and labor can make its own deal that the state is not be part of, but, so that we’re ready for the event of maybe a cash shortfall in April, we thought it necessary to have the formal review process run in tandem with the progress that the city’s making,” said Dillon.

A report highlighted last month by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing found that without changes, Michigan’s largest city could run out of money sometime in April.

The Detroit Free Press reports on what the preliminary financial review found:

Dillon said in a report the city had violated the uniform budgeting and accounting act by not adjusting its budget on a timely basis and had not filed an adequate deficit elimination plan. He also cited a mounting debt problem, trouble making payments to pension plans and the possibility the city will be short of cash by April...

Dillon said in his report that “city officials are either incapable or unwilling to manage its own finances.” Also “as we have noted on numerous occasions, the longer it takes to address Detroit’s financial problems, the more painful the potential solutions become,” he said.

After the next review, an emergency manager could be appointed to run Detroit.

user steveburt1947 / Flickr

Michigan Radio is giving 2011 a sendoff by taking a look back at some of the year's popular and important stories. As part of this retrospective series, here's a small collection of stories we covered about Detroit. You can also weigh in. Tell us your pick for the most important Detroit story this year (if you want to peruse all the stories we've covered in Detroit, you can find them organized under our Detroit tag):

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says plans for light rail in the city are being scrapped in favor of a regional rapid transit bus system.

Bus rapid transit is usually more efficient and faster than regular city bus services.

Years of planning and millions of dollars went into the proposal to run a light rail line up Woodward Avenue, from downtown Detroit to the city limits.

But Bing says he’s been talking with Obama administration officials, Governor Snyder, and other southeast Michigan leaders over the past several months.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

In wake of petition drive, emergency manager law being revamped

Lawmakers say they're trying to avoid "chaos" by retooling the state's emergency manager law (Public Act 4). A petition drive could put the question of whether or not to keep the EM law in front of voters next November. If petition drive organizers are successful, the law could be suspended until that vote takes place.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon told the Free Press he has encouraged legislative leaders to rewrite the law. The alternative, he said, is "a pretty confused situation" if the law is suspended. State Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, said passing a new law to counter a voter repeal effort would be "a slap in the face to the Legislature and to the people." If the law is suspended, Gov. Rick Snyder said he believes Michigan would revert to a weaker emergency manager law from 1990, but there's no guarantee the courts will see it his way.

Detroit Mayor Bing reports progress with unions

Detroit could be the next city in line for a takeover by a state-appointed emergency manager. Detroit leaders say they're working on the city's financial problems to avoid a takeover. In a radio interview this morning, Mayor Bing said progress is being made with the city's unions.

From the Detroit News:

In an interview with WWJ-AM (950), Bing said he's asking the city's unions for reduced wages and reform to pension, health care and work rules because "that's where we can get the most flexibility and savings." "Yes, we're making progress," Bing told WWJ's Vickie Thomas around 7:30 a.m. "I think the unions understand at this point that they've got to be part of the solution." The expected number of citywide layoffs — about 1,000 — hasn't changed since Bing gave a televised address to the city last month. He doesn't know which departments the city will hit first, but public safety will be last on the chopping block.

Protesters tell Congressman to extend unemployment benefits

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported on about three dozen picketers outside of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers Lansing office:

They were there to draw attention to a deadline looming at the end of the month. 66,000 Michiganders may lose their unemployment benefits in January if an extension is not passed.   

Protester Ronnie Rosner says this is a bad time to let unemployment benefits to expire.  

“When the price of food…gas   and other necessities are going up …when people can not afford to buy goods and services…our whole economy suffers," says Rosner.   

Congressman Rogers’ office issued a written statement …expressing support for extending unemployment benefits.   But he says… as important…is the need for policies promoting economic growth.

Can Detroit avoid an emergency manager?

Dec 7, 2011

So, does Detroit really need an Emergency Manager? Can the city’s elected leaders somehow get the job done? This much we know: The governor has ordered a preliminary review of  the city’s finances. There have been major signs of trouble for years.

Now, the city is running a large budget deficit, and the mayor says that as it now stands, the city will run out of cash by April.

user andrea_44 / Flickr

State Treasurer Andy Dillon announced today the state's intention to launch a preliminary review of Detroit's finances. The review will commence next Tuesday, according to Dillon's office. This post is being updated with information as it comes in.

Update 5:06 p.m.

MPRN's Laura Weber reports that State Treasurer Andy Dillon said he does not see bankruptcy as an option for Detroit.

“I don’t see that in the near-term, no, because if you look at the revenues coming into the general fund, it’s a fixable issue for the city,” said Dillon. “Now the longer-term debt may present an issue that we’ll have to figure out how to tackle down the road.”

Dillon said this is the first step in a review of Detroit’s finances and does not guarantee the city will be taken over by the state, but he said because Detroit is running out of money quickly, a review is time sensitive.

3:15 pm

Mayor Dave Bing released this statement on the state's preliminary financial review a few moments ago:

"While unfortunate, this decision by Governor Snyder is not unexpected.  We believe we have the right plan to address the City's fiscal crisis and we will continue to work with City Council, our unions and other stakeholders to achieve the necessary cuts and concessions, including pension, healthcare and work rule reform. I'm confident with yesterday's demonstration of solidarity and shared commitment that we will continue to make progress.  We are committed to full cooperation with the Governor's fiscal team, who has had full access to the City's financial information and plan for months."

Update 2:49 p.m.

You can see a list of reasons why Michigan State Treasurer Andy Dillon feels a preliminary review of Detroit's finances is in order. Dillon released a "Detroit Informational Memorandum."

In it, Dillion cites that Detroit has run deficits exceeding $100 million dating back to 2005.

Annual debt service requirements in Detroit for 2010 exceeded $539 million, according to the memo.

2:15 p.m.

A day after Detroit Mayor Bing stood with other city leaders to try to head off an impending state review of the city's finances, the Governor's office announces the review:

From MPRN's Rick Pluta:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon says the state will send in teams to review the finances of Detroit and Inkster. It is the first step in the process to name emergency managers to run the cities.  But Dillon says his hope is that early intervention will help avoid that. Detroit city leaders including Mayor Dave Bing have spoken out against a state review.

In a letter to Mayor Bing and City Council President Charles Pugh, State Treasurer Andy Dillon cited the mayor and city council's ongoing inability to work cooperatively to financially manage the city; Detroit's recurring operating deficits; and the likelihood that the city will run out of cash in the spring.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

"Detroit needs to be run by Detroiters"

That's what Mayor Bing tweeted last night prior to his press conference with members of city council and other Detroit leaders. It was a show of unity against the threat of an impending state review of city finances.

The tweet continued, "We know what needs to be done and we are ready to do it."

Mayor Bing and leaders were reacting to what Mayor Bing said was Governor Snyder's intent to launch a 30-day review of the city's finances this week (Snyder said those claims are inaccurate).

Bing is proposing layoffs and steep cuts to the city's budget. He and members of the city council have been battling over the cuts.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported on the press conference last night:

Bing says it would be helpful if the state offered feedback on some of the city’s proposals, and was more clear about its expectations.

“I would appreciate if the state would come back and say what they don’t like about our plan, or what they do like, or can they enhance it,” Bing says. “I think they’ve got to be a party to this.”

Bing also repeated calls for the state to pay Detroit $220 million it owes from a 1998 revenue sharing agreement. Governor Snyder and Republicans in the state legislature have been cool to the idea.

Conyers asks U.S. Attorney General for review of Michigan's EM law

The threat of an emergency manager in Detroit led to a call for a review of Michigan's emergency manager law from U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit). Conyers is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review the law.

The emergency manager law allows a state-appointed official to strip local officials of their power and to dissolve union contracts.

Jonathan Oosting of MLive.com reported on the request from Conyers:

Conyers asked Holder to consider two separate constitutional issues: Whether the law violates the Contract Clause by allowing EM's to terminate collective bargaining rights and whether is violates Article 4, Section 4 that provides for a republican form of government.

"The Supreme Court has previously held that this clause guarantees the people the right to a democratically elected form of government," he wrote. "It goes without saying that appointing an unelected manager in place of an elected mayor, city council and other public officials would be totally anithetical to the concept of democracy."

Faculty at CMU close to a new contract

After a long battle over a new contract that included a strike on the first day of classes, Central Michigan University says it has has a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the CMU Faculty Association. The Associated Press reports "the deal with the CMU Faculty Association was reached after a 14-hour negotiating session facilitated by a county judge. Details of the tentative agreement weren't released pending ratification."

user steveburt1947 / Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and other city leaders stood side-by-side at city hall Thursday night, saying they’re all ready to work together.

The show of unity comes as the city scrambles to stave off a state-appointed emergency manager. Governor Snyder has threatened to send in a financial review team that would initiate that process if the city doesn’t get its act together.

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Several dozen Catholic parishes in Detroit might close

After a "year-long, parish-based pastoral and strategic planning process," the Archdiocese of Detroit revealed a plan for a smaller footprint in Detroit.

From an Archdiocese of Detroit statement:

  • Within five years, nine parishes are proposed to close.
  • In addition to the above, 60 parishes are proposed to merge down to 21, resulting in 39 fewer parishes.

The Detroit Free Press reports Detroit was one of the first archdioceses to close churches back in 1989. From the Freep:

In the last 10 years alone, about 40 parishes have closed or merged because of the priest shortage and changing demographics in Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs, reducing the number of parishes diocese-wide from 310 to 270.

Detroit unions to offer up their cost-saving ideas

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been calling for concessions from Detroit's unions along with layoffs to fix the city's budget problems.

Today, unions in the city are expected to go before city council with their ideas.

From the Detroit News:

The city's 48 employee unions thus far have resisted Mayor Dave Bing's call for givebacks to help the city stave off a possible state takeover. Several deadlines imposed by Bing have come and gone...

A coalition of union leaders met Wednesday morning to hammer out ideas for the council to consider. Leaders will present options for cheaper health care and suggest alternatives to Bing's proposed 10 percent wage cut, according to a union leader familiar with the plan.

Governor Snyder heads to Delta College to deliver special message

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to help workers get the skills employers need in today's job market. Rick Pluta reports Snyder is looking for ways to bring down Michigan’s persistently high unemployment rate. Pluta says the Governor "will deliver his fifth special message of the year today where he is expected to outline a strategy to better match the skills workers have to positions that are available right now."

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