Let’s hope Mayor Dave Bing enjoyed the sights during his five-day Italian mission to find strategies to rein in Detroit’s problems. It’s unlikely that he found any useful solutions. Italy is a world apart in distance, experience and culture.
Since assuming office, the Detroit mayor has made several celebrated but symbolic excursions to regional, state, national and international destinations. There is, of course, nothing wrong with networking; building coalitions and partnerships. Cash-starved Detroit, after all, is on the verge of insolvency and is in desperate need of help.
I have no doubt that some of his travels spring from good intentions and may result in better regional cooperation and overall goodwill. However, some expeditions are junkets that will produce no long term benefit to the betterment of the city.
There is more than enough random crime, housing and tax issues, a runaway budget, a police headquarters to build, labor issues to resolve, police and fire equipment to purchase to keep Mayor Bing behind his desk for the rest of this term. Being on the road doesn’t allow him to adequately confront these seemingly intractable problems. And since taking office, there is little indication that the Bing administration has actually hit the ground running, or has done much else but travel.
The solutions to Detroit’s problems won’t be found in Washington, Italy, Lansing or elsewhere. Federal and state governments are broke. To think that a trip to Turin, Italy will unveil a way to reinvigorate the disappearing Detroit tax base is a desperate and impractical road to recovery.
Because there are so few visible examples of progress in the city Mayor Bing should be a more selective about his travel schedule. Ending the inertia is best accomplished by a stay-at-home mayor with a hands-on, hard nose approach to tangible problem-solving in his dying city.