“We look at getting money from the state at $10 and $20 million increments to hold us over,” Dumas said. “That’s not changing the fabric of how this city operates. We’re just like people who are financially compromised situations in their homes. [The city] is living check-to-check.”
On Thursday, Bing said during a taped interview that he felt that members of the city’s government carried a sense of entitlement and referred to his job as “probably the second most difficult in the country.” Bing told theGrio in August that his administration inherited a “hell hole” in 2009.
“We are in an environment, I think, of entitlement,” Bing said in the video. “We’ve got a lot of people who are city workers who for years and years, 20, 30 years, think they are entitled to a job and all that comes with it.
“Nobody wants to go backwards, but in order for us to move the city forward, we are going to have to take a step or two backwards and then, I think, all of us have to participate in the pain that’s upon us right now.”
Bing said that within 10 years that the city will have a renovated riverfront, thriving downtown, and stable, more densely-populated neighborhoods. Detroit, which is 140 square miles, has sections where residents currently have only one or two occupied homes in their neighborhoods, including some that have no working streetlights.
“We’re going to try to convince those people that they need to move, so there’s density in all of our neighborhoods,” He said. “I don’t think Detroit is going to be what it was [in the 1950s]. We have to look at ourselves differently. I don’t know that we’re going to be the same blue-collar town that we were.”
Dumas, who was let go by Bing in 2011, feels that the entitlement culture has helped exacerbate the problem and led to contentious – often racially charged – meetings between residents and city leaders. She feels that part of the problem also lies with the residents not using good judgment in electing officials, often “recycling” familiar names.
“In this community, we have a 50 percent illiteracy rate that has to be acknowledged,” she said. “We also have people that have been elected to ‘lead’ – for lack of a better term – based on emotion, name recognition, and based on their ability to be recycled from other areas.
“I believe that a lot of these [city officials] understand that much of the voter base functions on emotions, as well as being uninformed or misinformed and they capitalize on that at the expense of the people that they serve. They mention civil rights, or racism, or ownership. People get upset, but they don’t know why.”
With the potential of bankruptcy looming in the coming new year, time may be running out on the city to make up its mind. Fear of not being “in charge” has pushed the city once again to the brink and has the city staring at an uncertain future; rhetoric about “dissolving” the state’s largest city will likely not help matters.
“Making that [dissolving] statement just seals the disconnect,” Dumas said. “The likelihood or reality of dissolving a city is all but non-existent. That’s not the way to solve the problem.
“I do think that at a certain point, people in the city – both those that live here and those that are charged with leading it – have to recognize that there may be some drastic options around the corner if there’s not some proactive engagement. The city of Detroit did not get this way overnight, and it’s not going to be addressed overnight.”
Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter @JayScottSmith