MC: As far as your administration is concerned, what should residents expect this year and in this decade on neighborhood development?
DB: That will be a focus. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. I think one of the things that I really want to focus on is the housing stock here in the city. There is a lot of demolition that needs to take place and that’s where I’m going to need federal support. Because it’s job creation and getting rid of a lot of the blight that we have right now that puts us in a position to make strategic decisions going forward. The city has to be downsized. But it all has to start with cleanup, demolition.
There are a lot of opportunities, I think, to make some improvements in some of the housing stock we have here. We don’t have to tear down everything, but we have to be very expeditious, and what kind of funding we’re going to have and where that funding is going to be dedicated to get the best results. There are some neighborhoods that traditionally have been strong neighborhoods that are on the downside right now. And we’ve got to make sure we don’t forget about them. We’ve to go in some of those homes, neighborhoods and do some things, incentives that will get people to move back into those neighborhoods. The toughest thing I’m going to be faced with is reshaping this city.
MC: With neighborhoods come crime. How do you feel about public safety in the city presently?
DB: Not where we need to be but definitely going in the right direction. I think when we look at it at an annualized basis I don’t think the statistics are going to be very positive. When you look at it over the last five or six months you will see a trending in a much better direction. (Police Chief) Warren Evans is doing an outstanding job.
MC: Is there still the fight between you and the unions?
DB: I wouldn’t call it a fight. But I think it’s a lack of leadership from the union. I don’t think it’s the rank and file, quite frankly, because our books are open. Any information that they require to understand exactly where we are from a financial standpoint, they have access to it. They have it. They can keep on playing the game so that they can elongate the process. The more you elongate the process, the more it costs the city. The more it costs the city, in the end it’s going to cost jobs. Because if I can’t afford to maintain the labor force, then I have no alternative other than to cut labor. If they force me into that, I’m going to do it. I’ve already cut close to 500 positions. I think I need another 500 positions.
MC: How soon do you need those cuts?
DB: Yesterday. Like I said, every day that we don’t have an agreement it costs us, on a weekly basis, about $250,000. So the leadership, AFSCME in particular, may say that they want to fight and play as many games as they can. I’ve given them all of the information that they need. I’m ready to ratchet up the negotiations.
MC: 2010 is a gubernatorial year. Has any candidate called seeking your support?
DB: Not yet.
MC: Will who gets elected governor be a priority for you?
DB: Well, I want to make sure whoever gets elected has Detroit at the forefront. That’s very important to me, to Detroit and to whoever is going to be governor. Because if Detroit is still going to be a city that’s hurting as we are today, it’s going to create that problem in Lansing, whoever the governor will be.
MC: Does it matter whether it’s a Democrat or Republican that gets elected?
DB: I want the best person that’s going to get the most support for Detroit.
MC: As a member of the Detroit Public Schools Oversight Committee, how would you rate Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb’s performance?
DB: Excellent. Because he is confronted with the same kind of problems that I got in terms of city government, hard decisions that should have been made, and nobody likes it. So he’s doing that. So I give him an A for that. There are some things I would assume if he could do differently, he would.
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