Standing In Line
P hoto by Bre t t Moun ta in
Dave Bing tells Federation Forum the city needs new attitude and leadership.
Bing told his Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit audience that he
and the people of the region "have the
tenacity to make Detroit [again] the city
we once knew"
The city has shrunk from 1.6 million
when he first came here to fewer than
900,000 population. But, he said, size
is not as important as "who we are and
what we believe ... We all want to see
Detroit do well!'
The major point of his nearly hour-
long talk and question-and-answer
session was the city is in an ethical and
financial crisis and "it's going to take all
of us to bring this city back. It's going
to take new leadership, and I want to be
part of that leadership!'
There is a perception that Detroit is
one of the most dangerous cities in the
world, Bing said. He doesn't agree, "but
we need to fight that perception!'
More police officers are needed in
Detroit's neighborhoods; response times
for fire and emergency crews have been
erratic. "We have to make the commu-
nity feel safe Bing said.
He decried the city's financial crisis
and the lack of concrete information
about it. "With my business back-
ground:' he said, "I'll look at things dif-
Dave Bing speaks at Federation Forum.
ave Bing was a 22-year-old first-
round draft choice when he
came to the Detroit Pistons from
Syracuse University in 1966. Forty-two
years later, he has a hall of fame record as
a National Basketball Association All-Star
and as founder and chairman of the Bing
Group in Detroit, supplying the automo-
tive, appliance and office furniture mar-
He may have jumped into the fight of
his distinguished career as one of 17 can-
didates vying to become mayor of the city.
Bing spoke Nov. 12 to 180 luncheon
guests at the Federation Forum, held at
the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. It
was a far cry from the five individuals who
showed up for a Bing campaign event two
days earlier in Detroit. One of his major
tasks will be to convince Detroit voters
that he is one of them.
Despite the fact that he is major
employer in Detroit, he lived in Franklin
for many years before recently moving
Bing said Detroit needs a different
culture and environment. "Too many
people and organizations think they are
`entitled! This must change' He said the
"old guard" and the way business was
done years ago won't work anymore.
He called the Detroit Public Schools
(DPS) "abysmal." He acknowledged that
the schools are not under the mayor's
jurisdiction, "but Detroit won't change
unless the schools are fixed!'
He and his wife have been involved
with Cornerstone charter schools for eight
years. He said the children from DPS who
go to Cornerstone or to the University
Prepatory Academy run by Doug Ross are
doing well. "They are not the cream:' Bing
said. Some 96 percent of University Prep's
ninth-graders graduated last June. DPS
has the lowest big-city graduation rate in
"We need a city administration with
leaders who can involve people from
all over:' said Bing. "Detroit has a lot of
friends in the Jewish community, a lot of
friends in the surrounding suburbs who
want Detroit to succeed. Because you don't
live in Detroit doesn't mean you d _ on't love
Bing has served on the board of Detroit
Renaissance for 19 years. He said the city
"has to change the model altogether"
because it is competing with all the major
cities in the Midwest for our youth.
During the question-and-answerses-
sion, moderated by Mitchell Mondry, Bing
said Detroit can attract young people if
it starts building affordable housing and
creates business opportunities. He said
downtown is booming, but in one or two
pockets. "We need people to live down-
town, not just visit!'
He was critical of city council and pro-
posed a district representation system to
make the council more accountable to the
Asked what a suburban businessman
could do to help change the city, Bing
responded with his campaign phone num-
Asked how his business experience
could help Detroit, Bing drew laughter
with his response, "I've been told it's a
great opportunity!' He added that Detroit's
financial situation will worsen in the short
term, but said he knows what it takes to
meet payroll, he understands finance and
investment and, as an automotive supplier,
he understands how to work with unions.
"No other candidate brings that experi-
ence he said.
Job creation and ethical leadership
are the two key issues, he said. "I'm not
afraid to go out and get the very best tal-
ent. Without the right kind of teammates
when I played [basketball], I wouldn't have
had the success that I had. It was the same
He advocated changing the structure
of the city administration to a business
- model. "I don't understand 'deputy mayor.'
I don't know what that is."
He responded to a question about the
proposed government bailout for the auto-
mobile industry by saying, "I don't know
Standing In Line on page A18
November 20 • 2008