COMMENTARY | 2012 was a stressful year, with Detroiters plagued by threats of a state takeover of the city, budgetary cuts, and arguments between City Council and Mayor Dave Bing. If the local government wants to make 2013 a better year, certain changes need to be made. These changes would put the City of Detroit back on the right track and limit the amount of stress placed on residents.
City Council Needs a Plan
The Detroit City Council spent the year bumping heads with Mayor Bing and has attempted to block many of the plans the mayor established with Gov. Rick Snyder. If the council does not like the plans being offered before the body, it needs to come up with its own viable plan to lead the city into a cost-effective future. A solid plan from the council compared to a plan from Mayor Bing could allow for negotiations and compromise and less schoolyard bickering.
Destroy Negative Perceptions
By constantly attempting to turn down any plan the mayor has, the Detroit City Council has created the perception that it refuses to work with the city's leader simply because it doesn't want to. Mayor Bing has been accused of being Gov. Snyder's lapdog due to secret meetings between the two leaders and legislation and cuts the two have attempted to pass together. If the two branches of city government want to move forward in the eyes of residents, these perceptions need to be addressed and destroyed.
Detroit Needs to Appeal to Suburbs
City Council and Mayor Bing have an untapped benefit in other local governments. The machinations of Detroit government are seen every night on local news, and other city government officials around Metro Detroit see what is going on. Many of these officials are sure to have their own ideas about how the city can be helped. To this point, there has not been a public statement about the city going to the suburbs for advice, so these meetings should be publicized to prove the city is trying to better itself.
Focus on Police and Fire
Recent cuts have taken police officers out of the department offices and put them onto the streets, which has left many precincts closed in the evening. Fire stations have gone without basics like toilet paper, causing area residents to donate the needed items. The Detroit City Council, Mayor Bing, and anyone the governor puts in charge of helping the city with finances need to focus on the essential services first to install a perception of security so part of the stresses residents face can be alleviated.
These four steps might not bring Detroit back to financial stability, but they will create an environment where work can get done. They will also shift the perception of Detroit from doom and gloom to hope. The greatest battle the city is facing is the loss of all hope that the community can stand on its own. Once the attitude is changed, the city can focus on other difficulties facing residents and the local government.
L. Vincent Poupard is a former political/business consultant who specialized in helping businesses gain a foothold in their communities. He is a writer who spends as much free time as possible enjoying all that Michigan has to offer.