Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By David Alire Garcia
Originally posted on MichiganMessenger.com
DETROIT – In front of a packed Fox Theater crowd in downtown Detroit on Jan. 8, Mayor Dave Bing formally took the oath of office for a full four-year term and in his inaugural address declared “a new day” in the economically battered city.
“This is more than the inauguration of a mayor or a city council or city clerk. It is a new day,” Bing, the city’s 62nd mayor, said. “We will no longer be defined by the failures, divisiveness and self-serving actions of the past. We are turning the page to a new time in Detroit, focused not just on the challenges we face, but the opportunities we have to rebuild and renew our city.”
The mayor’s pledge was greeted by a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
Bing went on to outline familiar campaign themes of stronger ethics at City Hall, reducing crime and “the need to right-size city government with a data-driven and longterm, big picture approach.”
In a nod to the city’s still unresolved $300 million budget shortfall, the mayor acknowledged that “many more difficult decisions lie ahead.”
In his remarks, new City Council President Charles Pugh echoed Bing’s theme of a new day for “a smaller yet stronger Detroit,” even acknowledging the series of scandals in the recent past that have rocked Michigan’s largest city.
“On behalf of all my colleagues, let me boldly say all the madness of the past ends today,” the first-term councilman said. Pugh, the city’s first openly gay councilor and council president, pledged to lead a council of “competent decision makers, with integrity and rock-solid ethics and true transparency.”
Asking his eight fellow councilors to join him around the podium, Pugh also sought to emphasize a sense of unity on the city’s often sharply divided council: “Here we stand united, we will not be five plus four, we will be nine standing as one,” he said to sustained applause. “In this new decade we are serious about setting a new tone and working toward creating a new Detroit.”
Gov. Jennifer Granholm also attended the ceremony and spoke before the crowd, which included several of the announced and unannounced candidates already running to succeed her next year. She thanked Bing for his decision to run for mayor during “a time of utter change, a time of terrible beauty.”
She added, “I’d like to express the thanks and the support of 10 million citizens in Michigan. The fates of Detroit and Michigan are, as Dr. King would have said, inextricably bound in a mutual garment of destiny,” she said. “We know that Detroit’s future is Michigan’s future.”
The two-term term-limited governor also sought to tamp down immediate turn-around expectations by cautioning Detroiters to have what she described as “realistic expectations about how quickly things can happen.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Bing’s pastor – the Rev. Charles G. Adams, senior pastor of Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church – delivered a very different, the-sky-is-the-limit message:
“We will not falter. We will not fail. We will not fold for we know that as Detroit goes, so goes Michigan, and as Michigan goes, so goes the world,” he said to applause. “Detroit is still here and Detroit is now ready for any challenge. If it’s a job, we can do it. If it’s a mountain, we can move it. If it’s a budget, we can balance it. If it’s a deficit, we can erase it. If it’s a child, we can teach it.”
Thanking Adams, Bing would later quip: “I thought I was in church for a moment there.”
But beyond the oratory and platitudes, not everyone was pleased with the newly inaugurated mayor. Among a cluster of protesters standing on the sidewalk outside the theater and just across Woodward Avenue was Detroit resident Ann Taylor, who said she initially voted for Bing in the August primary but later soured on the businessman-turned-politician because he refused to debate his opponent. Now she claims that that the official canvas that certified Bing as the winner was “a rubber stamp operation.”
“I’m out here as a concerned citizen because I witnessed the canvassing of the Detroit election commission,” she said. “They actually certified empty boxes… What I saw and experienced disturbed me because I feel as though a whole group of citizens in the city of Detroit were disenfranchised.” She claims that as many as 50,000 absentee ballots were not properly counted.
Bing’s opponent in the November election, Tom Barrow, has since requested that the attorney general investigate claims of fraud.