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Detroiters Voice Gripes To Mayor At Community Meeting

DETROIT (WWJ) - A few hundred Detroit residents gave Mayor Dave Bing an earful during a town-hall meeting Wednesday night.

The meeting, held at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building, was the first of a series of community conversations that Bing is required to hold per the new city charter.

The questions and comments ranged from fixing street lights to tearing down abandoned buildings.

When asked what Detroiters can do to help with the city's growing problems, Bing said it's all about cooperation.

"What we've got to do is work together to figure out how to solve some of these problems. We need help in city government, we need our citizens working with us and not against us," said Bing.

Elaine Wilson told the mayor he needs to start standing up for Detroit, especially when it comes to the millions of dollars the state owes the city.

"Stand up and fight for us to get the money that is owed and hold the state accountable to the citizens of the city of Detroit," she said as the crowd applauded and cheered.

"One of the problems that we've had is the state, under the Snyder administration, has basically said 'We don't owe you this money because it was promised by another administration.' Therefore, we're going through some legal things right now so I'm not able to talk about it in detail," Bing responded.

Sandra Heinz said it was frustrating, because she just wanted to hear from the mayor himself.

"Would you please talk to us and tell us what is really going on? We want to hear from you. We don't want to hear from them. We want to hear what you have to say," she said.

"I have no problem answering any questions but I think the experts are the department heads and if there are some things that I may not be aware of, I will call on them to give me that support," Bing responded.

The mayor said on more than one occasion that one of the big problems in the city is that the media doesn't give Detroit enough good press.

"You shouldn't believe everything you see, hear or read. I personally think the media is doing this city, in a lot of cases, an injustice. My feeling is this, that there are more good things that are happening in our city, and it's never reported," he said.

Following the meeting, Kevin Erwin, who lives on the city's west side, said he was a little disappointed.

"I think things were glossed over. I didn't really hear any meat coming from the mayor in terms of when people had some real specific questions, you pretty much got generalities as answers," he said.

Cynthia Johnson, who also lives on the west side, said she wanted to hear more from the mayor himself.

"Most of it was the mayor's staff answering the questions, as usual. But one of the ladies asked the mayor to be the mayor, to step up, and for a moment I thought he was going to do that," she said.

Before the consent agreement was reached, Detroit was on course to be more than $400 million in debt.

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