Bing: Speak Up or Lay Low?
There was a must read in Sunday's Detroit Free Press about Mayor Dave Bing. The article was a review of the mayor's first year in office (as part of his four-year term) and a preview of the work ahead.
I read it with interest partly because of a comment made to me a week or so ago. A source for the blog told me they think Bing is being too quiet, too hard to read. They wanted larger statements out of Bing – bold proclamations of who he is and what is going to achieve.
I'm saying the opposite: Lay low, Mayor. Be as quiet as a mouse.
I had a professor once who said: “People used to live lives of quiet desperation. Today, they're living lives of noisy desperation, and I wish they would just shut up.” (My apologies to the brilliant Gorman Beauchamp if I misquoted him.) And this was before reality television really hit.
To that end, this here noisy blogger says Mayor Bing is making the right moves. Words are meaningless in today's society. We are verbal miscreants – taking over television, radio, the Web with our endless blather.
Instead, let your actions speak.
The Mayor makes that point:
“I think I'm a person who has always planned well, but when you inherit the magnitude of problems and inefficiencies that are here, there's no way for you to make the long-range plans without doing it on a project-oriented basis,” Bing told the Free Press. “For the rest of the calendar year and into 2011, I'm not so worried about being forced to put a plan out there. I'm more interested in looking at the projects that I know we can complete.”
There are three more years to this term. The Mayor has to ride a fine line to get any work done in this contentious, sometimes angry city. We love when people start something, but we also love to tear them down when the project gets underway. I'd hate to see the same done to Mayor Bing this early. So lay low.
Yes, I criticized his State of the City address as being too short at 30 odd minutes. I do wish he had said more; I loved hearing his ideas. But he said enough. There is a wisdom in that.
Indeed, there is wisdom in taking the opposite tact of your predecessor. Kwame Kilpatrick seemed to love taunting the media, goading them to chase him down a la Gary Hart. (And he still seems to think he's done nothing wrong and the mean ol' media is giving him a hard time. Waaaah.)
Bing, it seems to me, will take his accolades when the work is done (if he takes them at all). He might be willing to smile and pose for photographs if he can get this city straight. Until then, let him be. He's got work to do.
Just to use a basketball analogy (forgive me), you have to ignore the shouts and screams. You just gotta get that free throw through the basket, ignoring everything around you.
"Everybody wants us to fix the problem overnight, and there are some things that we can do in the short term to help, but it's going to be a longer-term process," Bing said. "I can hold people accountable for projects much better than I can for a long-range plan."
Sheesh…the work load that man has – the last thing he needs to do is get drawn into an angry dialogue with his distracters. He doesn't need that. He needs a plan, he needs to implement that plan, he needs to keep his eyes on the ball (such a cliché, but so very true).
The man knows the game. He did fantastically well at that; let's see if he'll do fantastically well at this.