Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
When Ken Cockrel (the interim mayor) and Dave Bing (businessman and former basketball star) squared off in the Detroit mayoral race this spring, one of the hottest topics was the Cobo Center, the city's convention center. Cobo desperately needed repairs and upgrades, but Detroit couldn't afford them.
Under Cockrel, the City Council rebuffed a plan to transfer control of Cobo to a regional body in exchange for state and suburban funding. The future of the North American International Auto Show, Cobo's signature event, appeared in doubt.
Bing, like Cockrel, supported the regional funding and management model. Cobo became a hot campaign issue, though, because Bing claimed that his business experience would help him succeed in getting a deal where Cockrel had failed. Bing didn't explain how he'd succeed, which led me to wonder whether he was just a political novice without a plan.
I'm still not quite sure how he did, but Bing tamed the City Council. From the Detroit Free Press:
After years of regional discord over how it would be funded, a deal for a $288-million expansion of Cobo Center moved forward Tuesday after the Detroit City Council refused to vote against it.
The legislation on Cobo's renovation, approved by lawmakers in Lansing and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm this month, allows for up to $300 million from hotel and liquor taxes in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and state tobacco tax revenue. In return, operation of the center is to be turned over to a regional authority.
Clearing the final hurdle to renovate Cobo Center, at long last, is a huge step, both symbolically and economically, for metro Detroit.
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