DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing accused his Boston counterpart of insensitivity Tuesday after Thomas Menino told a magazine that if he ever visited the Motor City, he’d “blow up the place and start all over.”
In a New York Times Magazine article that first appeared online last week, Menino said Detroit is a place he’d like to visit, then added the rest when asked what he’d do there.
“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,” said Bing, who is not running for re-election after one term as mayor. “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.’”
A spokeswoman for the Boston mayor said Menino “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,” Dot Joyce told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It was never his intention.”
She said that Menino’s proposal to “blow up the place” meant to overhaul the broken systems that have helped bring down Detroit.
Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in April when pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards detonated near the finish line of the popular Boston Marathon.
One of the suspects was killed three days later in a gun battle with police. His brother was captured and has pleaded not guilty to using a weapon of mass destruction charges.
Menino also told the magazine that “inaction” and “leadership” are behind some of Detroit’s problems, like boarded up buildings, nonworking streetlights and lengthy police response times to 911 calls.
Bing, a member of professional basketball’s Hall of Fame and former steel supply company owner, 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.”
Menino is the latest politician to offer his take on Detroit and its troubles. Two years ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” that Detroit should welcome immigrants to boost the city’s shrinking population.
Detroit in July became the largest city in the country to seek bankruptcy when state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed for court protection as he tries to restructure finances.
Orr said Detroit’s debt could be $18 billion or more.
AP reporter David N. Goodman contributed to this story.