Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hackel To Bing: Not So Fast, Buddy!

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is a smart man.  He was smart enough to anticipate the potential backlash which certainly would have occurred if it appeared he freely offered Macomb County taxpayer –derived public safety services to prop up Detroit’s fun-based annual events.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing threatened to not facilitate events such as the Target Fireworks if help from the suburbs was not forthcoming.  This was after he declared certain areas off limits for this year’s event.  Given Bing’s addiction to “regionalization” and last minute gloom and doom pronouncements, Bing added the fireworks, his latest instance of regional extortion, and that of the annual nationally televised Thanksgiving Parade, to his list of endangered events.

As if on cue, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godby then added his two-cents worth by implying that Detroit gangs were possibly plotting mischief and mayhem for this year’s firework.  That would be uncool, especially since like when visiting the Detroit Institute of Art, suburbanites come downtown Detroit mainly only when they feel safe.   Who wouldn’t?  Not enough cops….no way! 

The Mayor’s office has said they will reconfigure grant funds to pay for more security.  Using grant money for the fireworks seems to be misguided.  Grants for fireworks while sending millions in grant funds for services to the poor back to the federal government? What kind is message does that send?

Responding to Bing’s threats that certain areas of downtown Detroit would be off limits to Detroiters and suburbanites alike due to a lack of a Detroit Police presence, and with Godby’s threat of a criminal presence at the fireworks, several area law enforcement agencies (Oakland County, Macomb County, etc.)  forked over public safety personnel to patrol and augment security for the event, which usually draws more than one million people to Detroit.

Up until recently, the regionalization of all things Detroit has come with no price tag attached to a specific civic event.  The fireworks and the Thanksgiving Parade were just two such events where Detroit footed the majority of the bill or helped raised the revenue to produce the event.

Bing’s new message to the suburbs seems to be “show us the money.” It is almost as if he is saying that if Detroit can pay some of you to move from your communities to downtown, some of you “communities” can pay to offset the events that draw those left in your communities to downtown Detroit.  Huh??????

Back to Hackel…and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.  Both issued a clarification that busted Dave Bing’s back-door attempt to get other communities to fork over resources for the fireworks at no cost to Detroit.  The following is an excerpt from their joint press release:

"Both counties are delighted to help the City of Detroit host a safe 2012 Target Fireworks but the city must reimburse both counties' taxpayers completely for the costs of deployment of law enforcement personnel,…Both county executives are responding to a statement made by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing at an earlier news conference that said some of the regional law enforcement assistance will be 'in kind.'"

Oakland County spokesman Bill Mullan added additional clarification when issuing the following statement:   "At (Bing's) press conference, he thanked the regional partners for providing patrols, which he said were “in kind”. “In kind' is another way of saying it's free, and both county executives wanted to make it clear that their taxpayers wouldn't be footing the bill for patrolling in Detroit."

Including reserve officers, Macomb County will send 40 public safety officers while Oakland County has agreed to nearly 90.  Some of the smaller communities have agreed to provide personnel as well. That appears to be a lot of cheddar.

Perhaps this could be the first order of business for the newly seated financial advisory board. Like everything else Detroit, these commitments and the associated costs could have an impact on Detroit’s finances; there is no reference to this cost in the Detroit’s 2012-2013 budget approved by Detroit’s City Council and Dave Bing.  Oh well, this may cost the layoff of a few city workers, but what’s a few families to the Bing administration.

So Hackel was able to outflank Bing.  Mr. Hackel, a good many people will be waiting to see that check.