Detroit — Mayor Dave Bing reiterated Wednesday his growing frustration with how consultants and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr have taken over City Hall and sidelined his team.
The comments came after The Detroit News obtained Tuesday a deposition in the city’s bankruptcy case in which Bing said his department heads are “frustrated as hell” by the consultants and Orr is “not doing a competent job” restructuring city operations.
Bing told reporters after a Wednesday press conference urging people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that his criticism is not personal, but city leaders should be running the day-to-day operations.
“City government is a tough animal to manage. You just can’t come in here and think you can run city government,” Bing said. “Kevyn came in with an expertise in bankruptcy and we wanted to fix that balance sheet. We had an agreement that he would focus on that and leave the day-to-day running of the city to the administration. That has not happened, and I’m very frustrated with that.
“I’ve got a bevy of department heads that are frustrated because they’re not sure who they report to and what they are supposed to be doing. That’s not a way to run the city.”
Bing said he agreed with a critical assessment of Orr by Detroit’s former state-appointed program manager, William “Kriss” Andrews, who was removed from his post in July.
On Wednesday, Bing said the removal of 11 of the 25 department heads is moving the city backward in delivering city services. Bing added the business community told him it is still frustrated with public safety areas such as EMS, fire and police service. They also are frustrated over the lack of timely buses and lighting problems.
Bing on Wednesday also weighed-in on other pressing issues:
■On the results of consultants: “You have to look at the results. Tell me where the results are. It’s in investment, but at some point, if you don’t see the results, yes, it’s a waste.”
■On the resignation of CFO Jim Bonsall after racially insensitive remarks: “If he reported to me, I would have fired him. I wouldn’t have waited. He already said he made those statements. Thank you very much, you’re no longer a part of the administration.”
■On the Belle Isle lease: “I think the state is going to do what they want to do with this. I would prefer a shorter time frame on this and that's what I supported. I don't see it as a giveaway at all. We don’t have the money to reinvest in Belle Isle. You gotta do what's right for the citizens.”
The deposition released Tuesday appears to underscore the chilly relationship that developed between Bing and Orr after the emergency manager was appointed in March. Union attorneys also have deposed Gov. Rick Snyder, state Treasurer Andy Dillon and others in an attempt to elicit more detail about the run-up to the historic bankruptcy filing.
Bing testified that he had a “very good” working relationship with Andrews, and that Andrews had suggested an emergency manager candidate who would be a good fit for the mayor’s agenda — but would not likely be accepted by the state. The name of the candidate did not come up in Bing’s deposition.
Bing said he became aware that Orr was the state’s choice for emergency manager in late January or early February. He testified that he was asked to fly to Washington to meet Orr in February. He said he hoped to retain his existing management team, including Andrews, but that didn’t happen. “I had no input at all” on Orr’s appointments, Bing said.
“I don’t think the emergency manager and Lansing has been as forthcoming as they said they were going to be,” Bing said Wednesday. “Constantly fighting is not going to solve the problem. (But) the turnover in a seven month period is the worst thing that could have happened... Respect those people for what they’ve done and allow them to do a job on an ongoing basis.”