Politics

Payne: Bing's airball

“But the federal government also brought a lot of cash to the table,” answered Mayor Dave Bing in answer to why Obama’s emergency-manager-style takeover of the auto industry was any different from Snyder’s EM proposal to take over Detroit and put its fiscal house in order. It was a revealing moment in The Detroit News interview of Bing March 9.

This week Detroit’s mayor followed through on his Detroit bailout obsession, proposing a counter-consent agreement that asks for $137 million in state aid and the authority to raise more city tax revenue. At the same time, he refuses to give up his authority to run Detroit.

This is surely a non-starter with the governor – and contradicts the auto bailout model. Yes, the feds gave more money to Detroit automakers – but they also demanded full oversight, firing GM CEO Rick Wagner, giving Chrysler to Fiat, and turning over all authority to Washington’s auto task force with the ability to close plants, tear up union contracts, and sell assets. Just like the financial review board that Bing still rejects.

Indeed, the governor and State Treasurer Andy Dillon have already conceded the need for Detroit financial assistance – which is why they want control of a city that has proven inept at self-management. The insider buzz on Detroit’s chaos is that Dave Bing – the businessman who was supposed to bring competence to Detroit – is over his head.

His dismissive comments about city council and now his flailing consent retort are more evidence of that.

Under Bing’s plan, “the state would have to agree to support efforts sought by the city that could include: raising the city income tax ceiling; debt relief forgiveness by the state; bottled water licenses; and utility tax modifications. The state also would agree to support legislation allowing for collecting taxes on ‘non-resident wagering,'” reports The Detroit News.

Really? That Bing thinks the fireman rescuing Detroit “have to agree” to anything is remarkable. And that he thinks Detroit’s problem is under-taxation is out of touch with reality.

Henry Payne
Henry Payne is the auto critic for The Detroit News. A 25-year newspaper veteran, Payne is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist with United Feature Syndicate, a former columnist and editorial writer for The News, and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other publications. His auto reviews appear every Thursday in the Drive section.