That was the message Bing issued not-so-subtly after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino dissed Detroit in a New York Times magazine Q-and-A published on Sunday. When Menino was asked if he would live in any other city besides Boston, the mayor said he would go to Detroit. Asked what he would do in Detroit, Menino said, “I’d blow up the place and start all over. No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there’s something wrong with the system. Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that’s the problem — leadership.”
That did not sit well with Bing, the former Detroit Pistons star who was chosen as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time. Even though the city has filed for bankruptcy because of a budget shortfall of at least $18 billion, and even though Bing decided not to run for re-election after just one term in office, he wouldn’t let Menino’s insult go unchallenged.
“It is extremely regrettable that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino used such an unfortunate choice of words to describe what he would do if he came to Detroit,” Bing said in a scorched-earth statement. “I would think the mayor of a city that recently experienced a deadly bombing attack would be more sensitive and not use the phrase ‘blow up.'”
Bing, a pro basketball Hall of Famer who made a fortune as the owner of a steel supply company, said Menino should have gotten “his facts right.”
“The Detroit Police Department’s response time is not — and has never been — 90 minutes,” Bing said. “And, most of our city’s buildings are not boarded up. Since taking office more than four years ago, there has been tireless action on the part of my administration to improve the quality of life for our citizens. In fact, I invite Mayor Menino to visit Detroit to see our city for himself.”
Dot Joyce, spokeswoman for Menino, said the Boston mayor “feels strongly about cities,” cares about Detroit’s problems and “would like to help in any way he can.”
“The mayor is sorry that people have taken offense,” Joyce told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It was never his intention.”
Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in April when a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, an incident that sparked a scare throughout the region when the bombers were still at large. One of the suspects was killed three days later in a gun battle with police and shortly afterward his brother was captured and pleaded not guilty to charges of using a weapon of mass destruction.