Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Inefficient Mayor

Dave Bing can't hold the ball, turn to the ref and call timeout. He can't gather his cohorts in a 100-second huddle at courtside, whip out a clipboard and design a play to get himself out of the mess he's in.

Bing hasn't been in the middle of an NBA huddle since 1978, when he retired from the Boston Celtics. But he's still in a business filled with trash talking.

Bing, the mayor of Detroit, holds a job where the primary focus, always, is to battle the enemy from within. There are never any outside forces involved, really, when it comes to what ails Detroit. The city handles that department just fine, thank you.

I stumped for Bing to be Detroit's mayor. I felt he was the city's best shot---no pun intended---among those who would actually consider the job to begin with. There are several folks who would likely be better, but they either have too much sense or too low a threshold for pain.

So that left Bing, and what's happened recently at City Hall surprises me.

His staff is a mess. In Bing's NBA days, turnover was a dirty word, and it's even dirtier now, with people who can't beat it out of the mayor's administration fast enough.

Another strong-willed female mayoral staffer has been at the center of discussion lately---just as one was during Kwame Kilpatrick's tenure.

Karen Dumas, the mayor's close confidante and holder of the title of Communications Director, resigned last week. This after a furor in which she was portrayed in a whistleblower suit as being a power hungry, well---you know. It rhymes with rich.

But Dumas was no Christine Beatty, Kilpatrick's chief of staff. Dumas didn't sleep with her boss, number one. At least, we don't think so.


Bing: Last one out of the administration, turn off the lights!


Beatty was able to exert influence simply by flirting via text and making googly eyes at Kilpatrick. The ex-mayor, no small man, was reduced to pushover---like many men.

Bing was run roughshod over by Dumas, the suit alleges---culminating in a missed meeting with U.S. Senator Carl Levin so Dumas could instead go power shopping.

Dumas was just one of many who have packed their boxes and vacated their offices in recent days, as Bing desperately tries to fix a city without having to also worry about replenishing his staff.

The job of mayor of Detroit is hard enough, when things are going swimmingly among the ranks, without introducing mutiny to the mix.

Bing has been described by some insiders as lacking diplomatic skills and being more hands off than some would prefer. Too often, those people said, Bing would defer to his underlings in matters that he should be handling himself.

I don't know if that's true or not.

What I do know is that Dave Bing is spending too much precious time swatting at flies in his office than hunting for bear in the city proper.

Can't blame that on the outsiders.

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