Using phrases like “Barrow is our only hope”, calling Mayor Dave Bing “a liar” and wearing a Tom Barrow pin on her chest, one could easily mistake Cathy Philips, the Chief negotiator of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, for the Barrow’s campaign manager.
The reason: Phillips is not happy with Bing’s proposed cuts to the union city worker’s pay and benefits and it’s one week before the municipal election. It’s not necessarily Barrows running platform that is the draw: Barrow has said he would make the same cuts if he got into office and saw that that there were no other options. But still, they’re going to take the chance that he’ll be easier on unions than Bing, who Barrow is calling “The republican mayor”.
But Bing’s actions have made it clear that he is not concerned about losing to his opponent, the third time mayoral candidate who challenged Coleman Young twice in the 80s. Not only has Bing refused to debate Barrow but he is not walking softly around re-negotiating union contracts. Specifically AFSME contracts, the biggest public labor in the city. It’s true, Barrow is a tan underdog who has some history of legal trouble in the past, and that Bing got about nearly 80 percent of the vote in the August primary. It’s also true that Barrow still thinks he has a chance. And if he does have a foot in the door, his only hope right now is in unions votes because he's not exactly financially level with the Bing campaign nor does he have a household name.
One of the major dividing lines in Detroit politics comes with how to handle regionalism at a time when the city is out of cash. On one side, some feel that the region—meaning leadership in the tri-county (Macomb, Oakland, Wayne) area—is taking advantage of the city while it is in a vulnerable financial state by buying out assets. The creation of regional authorities is a scorching issue in Detroit with one camp saying "Take back out city" and the other saying "we need to cooperate and save, take whatever you want1".
Two prime examples that have gathered around this regional issue are the Cobo Hall deal and the Macomb County Water interceptor.And a fierce battle that is looming on the region v. Detroit horizon is the issue of regional transit. DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) has a bus service and the suburban bus service SMART. Now it seems that SMART has more funding than DDOT. Just months ago SMART got 50 new buses while Detroit is cutting bus service. So it looks like DDOT would have to give up some power if the transit is lumped into regional authority. I can hear radio personality Mildred Gaddis throwing a fit about it already: "The hijacking of DDOT".
Here are some quotes from Barrow's hour long MiVote interview with Stephen Henderson of the Freep and Nolan Finley of the Detroit News.
BARROW: "Mr. Bing is clearly carrying the water of those who would privatize and regionalize take away diminish and dismantle the city of Detroit. There’s no doubt about it. He’s running plays that are being called form the sidelines."
NOLAN FINLEY: "What interest would those folks you’re talking about stand to have Detroit dismanlted and dismembered?
BARROW: "They stand to benefit financially: You privatize power and light, DTE gets a big book of business. If you privatizative tax collections some private corporation gets a big book of business. When you start taking away middle class jobs under the guise of “we’re gonna make things run more efficiently “ The very ones who are advocating it are the ones who stand to benefit. It’s disturbing to me and disturbing is a big word."
Nolan Finley: How does Tom Barrow pay for ... [City services]?
BARROW: I read financial statements. I understand them. That’s my background, that’s my training. Our records are screwed up. We’re managing it backwards. We’re managing it on projected cash flow up and down. One moment they tell us we had to cut the busses. Then they say 'we found $400,000.' they say we're gonna run out of Cash by Oct. 1 if we don't make these draconian cuts. When the unions bucked they say “we have til March. When you see that waning and waning, when you see that inconsistency, wall street loses confidence. I would have a forensic investigation into payroll, parking, pension, real estate transactions. Hundreds of positions aren’t budgeted for."
BARROW: The Mayor is way over his head. The plays are being called by Beckham and White. Why don’t you produce to me the interim financial statement? Show it to the public so we can talk to facts empirically. Stakeholders want to see something. They don’t trust this republican mayor. They have not being showing the unions. They never get back. We’re sitting here reacting to some numbers that none of us have ever seen. Why wouldn’t we have it on the website? Why wouldn’t we have it on TV? I want to put it online! Then, when I say I wanna cut this, I wanna cut that. They’ll say 'I see why'. The very first day in office ... We’re gonna get rid of this federal monitor. I’m a different guy. I’m in charge. Mr. Bing is not accountable he only wants one term. How are we gonna finance the deficit? There’s something else going on that they’re not showing us.
NOLAN: "What is different about Tom Barrow Plan than Mayor Bing?"
I’m gonna hire 300 new police officers. It’s not just labor.
Stephenson: "Police Chief: Warren Evans Is that your guy?"
BARROW: “Not at all. I don’t want political people. The only politician [in my cabinet is going to be me.”
BARROW on Bing: "He’s an outsider carrying the water of others> meaning L. Brooks Patterson… didn’t have to say a thing Bing did the work for him. I’m for regionalism, regional transit. Let’s just make sure that we have a fair way. I want fairness for Detroiters. That’s what we haven’t had.
SHOULD MAYOR TAKE CONTROL OF SCHOOLS?
BARROW: I don’t believe in the state saying ;Mayor, here, you take the schools.' If the people vote for me to lead then yes. I don’t like disenfranchising the board. The elected officials are accountable.
BARROW ON BING: "Here’s a man who’s never lived in his Detroit his entire life. He can’t relate to what we deal with everyday. I’ve lived in Detroit my entire life. I’ve never left and come back. There’s no such thing as a virtual Detroiter. He’s not one of us."