DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing ripped Michigan officials Tuesday for failing to deliver on promises and then announced he won’t seek re-election in the city, which recently became the nation’s largest to be placed under state oversight.
“What matters most to me is giving residents a better Detroit,” Mr. Bing said in making the announcement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “I have to wonder if the state is truly interested in a partnership.”
The 69-year-old professional basketball Hall of Famer and former steel supply company owner was elected mayor in 2009. At least six other candidates could file to run by the deadline on Tuesday, setting up an August primary ahead of the November election.
Mr. Bing took office having inherited a budget deficit of more than $300 million. It could reach $386 million before July 1.
In March, Detroit became the largest city in the country to fall under state oversight when Gov. Rick Snyder appointed bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr as emergency manager. Mr. Orr has final say on all city financial matters.
Mr. Bing said he remains opposed to having an emergency manager over the city’s finances even though he repeatedly has said he would work with him.
“Fighting doesn’t fix anything,” Mr. Bing said.
In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Orr commended Mr. Bing on his service to Detroit.
“The work that he has begun has set Detroit on a path to achieve many of the goals necessary for the city to thrive,” Mr. Orr said.
Mr. Bing criticized a decision by a regional council of governments to cut funding to the city’s bus department while increasing allocations to a suburban bus system. He also said Lansing’s approval of the development of a water and sewer system in Genesee County shows an unwillingness to truly help Detroit. Flint and other cities in Genesee County currently pay Detroit for water and sewer services.
He told reporters for months that he was contemplating the decision and waited until Tuesday’s deadline to announce it. He said, however, he will form an exploratory committee for a possible run for Wayne County executive.
He stepped into the race for mayor to fill out the remaining months of Kwame Kilpatrick’s second term in office after the former mayor was convicted and jailed on charges related to lying on the stand during a civil trial.
Mr. Bing defeated Ken Cockrel Jr. in May 2009 in a special election. Mr. Cockrel had moved up to the mayor’s office from his post as City Council president following Kilpatrick’s fall.
In November, Detroit voters elected the founder and owner of the Bing Group, which included a steel supply company Mr. Bing founded in 1980.
A reluctant politician, Mr. Bing knew the city’s fiscal troubles ran deep, but he saw just how severe the debt and deficit were after taking office. He complained that systems crucial to run city operations were antiquated and inefficient.
“You knew that the city was in bad shape,” he told reporters more than two years into his first term. “I didn’t know it was in worse shape than I thought coming in. The reality is we had to be very basic and fix a lot of things.”
Born in Washington, Mr. Bing was an All-American guard at Syracuse University and was the second overall pick in the 1966 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He spent a dozen years in the NBA and in 1990 was elected into the professional basketball Hall of Fame. Mr. Bing later was named in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest players in the league’s history.
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