Detroit Mayor Bing eyes becoming emergency manager

Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:22 PM   |   Comments

DETROIT, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he would consider becoming the financially strapped city's emergency manager if Michigan's governor asks.

Bing told The Detroit News Monday he was giving "serious thought" to becoming the city's emergency manager, which would give him unprecedented powers over union contracts and hiring and firing of city employees.

He pointed to a confidential Ernst & Young financial report indicating the city could run out of money by February and noted employee unions have been unwilling to renegotiate their contracts.

"With an emergency manager it gives you, I think, authority and leverage to do some of the things that need to be done," Bing said.

Bing, more than two years into his first term as mayor, said, "I think whether it's me or somebody else (as emergency manager), it's going to probably happen."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill in March giving emergency managers the unprecedented new powers.

Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said he and the mayor have discussed the prospect of an emergency manager for Detroit but "there is absolutely no predetermination on Detroit's financial status or any next steps."

"As the governor has been very clear, our first and foremost goal is avoid the need for an emergency manager for any Michigan community, including Detroit," Wurfel said. "There's a definitive process that will be followed if we get to any point like this. That point is certainly not now."

Some of Bing's critics say he failed to make difficult decisions to deal with the city's financial woes such as laying off more city workers.

"The biggest question is: What has he done with the powers that he already has?" said City Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr., the former interim mayor who lost to Bing in a May 2009 special election. "And I don't think that he's done enough."

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