Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on the Chapter 9 bankruptcy eligible ruling by Judge Steven Rhodes on Dec. 3, 2013

Partial transcript of press conference Q&A with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing on the Chapter 9 bankruptcy eligible ruling by Judge Steven Rhodes on Dec. 3, 2013:

Question:
[Inaudible]

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:
I don’t know it’s fair for the pensioners to judge yet. I think there are more negotiations that will take place. I think all of our focus has to be on what’s best for the citizens of Detroit – the 700,000 plus people that are here. I don’t think we want to get into a situation where we’re putting the citizens against the pensioners. We’ve got to figure out – there’s going to be pain that goes around and we’ve got to figure out how we can mediate the least amount of pain for any one individual.

Question:
Judge Rhodes said this should have happened a long time ago. What’s your reaction to that?

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:
I absolutely agree. We’ve wasted a lot of time. We could have – in my 4.5 years, we managed our way through a tough, tough situation, but there was no way that we were going to solve the long-term liabilities and the debts on our balance sheet. When I came into the office, there was a $330 million accumulated deficit over time. We had a $18 billion over-hang. And so we were never able to go out and increase revenue. So the only way we stayed alive, quite frankly, is through cuts, and you know we cut everything that we could but unless there is more investment coming into the city and a new stream of revenue, there was no way to fix the problem.

So now with bankruptcy imminent, I think our debt over our balance sheet would be less than it is today and that’s going to be positive on a going forward basis.

Question:
Is there a lot of blame to go around or can you finger any particular issue or persons or people?

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:
I don’t look at blame as anything that’s going to be helpful at this point in time. I want to concentrate on the glass being half full as opposed to half empty and say all of us – those of us who live in this city, who work in this city, who care about this city – need to come to the table to see what positive impetus we can bring with us.

Question:
[Inaudible]

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:
Property taxes are being collected as we speak. I think it’s a misnomer – because some of the numbers that I’ve seen are numbers that go back to 2009 when I first came into office, where it was said we are – there’s $100 to $150 million of uncollected taxes. You know, you go back 10 years ago and using the same numbers, it’s not realistic. Number one, a lot of those people or businesses are no longer here. A lot of it is uncollectible. So we need to get the real number as it relates to taxes.

The same thing would hold true for empty houses, dangerous houses in this city. I see the number constantly at 78,000. That’s not a right number. It’s a moving number on a monthly basis but it’s not near to 78,000.

Question:
So when you say clean slate, are we talking about just wiping everything away and then just come up with real numbers?

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:
Well, we’ve got to get real numbers because if you don’t have facts, it’s very hard to make intelligent, informed decisions. So we’re going to have factual data. I’ve got a lot of that at hand. I’ll pass it down on to Mike Duggan so he’s going to have a major advantage than what I had because when I came in I had nothing to work with. So we had to go back and generate all of that data, and that’s going to be good for him to make decisions with.

Once again, thank you very much. I know obviously this is a big story here locally but it has national news people all over the country right now talking about Detroit, and we’ve got to start changing the conversation and we can’t think that bankruptcy is the worst thing that ever happened to us. It can help us now because it will allow us, once again, to deal with the things that should have been dealt with over the last 20 or 30 years. The city cannot go forward with the kind of debt and liabilities that we had on our balance sheet. So this opportunity today gives us a chance, I think, to move forward with a clean slate and make good decisions that will improve the quality of life for Detroit and its citizens. Thank you.

###

Learn More:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.