WTOL Editorial: Bell, take a lesson from Bing -- please

WTOL Vice President and General Manager Bob Chirdon
WTOL Vice President and General Manager Bob Chirdon

I have a column from Saturday's Wall Street Journal. The title is "Can Detroit be Saved?"

It's about the challenges facing the new mayor of Detroit, successful businessman and former NBA star Dave Bing.

Both Toledo and Detroit have deep financial troubles, school and safety issues, a historically heavy dependence on the auto industry and highly unionized city employees. It just might be worthwhile to consider what Mayor Bing has to say.

Bing thinks union benefits have crippled the city and are out-of-line with what's happening in the business world.

Here are some quotes I lifted:

  • "We've been paralyzed by a culture of entitlement…our union employee benefits cost 68 percent of their base wage. They can't continue to ride this gravy train forever."
  • "Are you better off having a job at 90 percent of your current wage or being out of work?"

Bing does not rule out bankruptcy, particularly if the unions do not make the concessions he's asked for. Bankruptcy would void all of the existing city contracts, including labor deals.

He also says he's focusing on how he can help businesses cut through the red tape in city government so they can make a profit again.

Bing strikes me as a tough, realistic and determined man. I hope incoming Toledo Mayor Mike Bell reads this. If we have to be like Detroit, then having a mayor like Dave Bing seems a pretty good thing to me.