Report: Menino ‘Sorry’ That He Said He Would ‘Blow Up’ Detroit

The Boston official apologized for comments made in a recent interview.

The city of Detroit isn’t doing so well these days, and Mayor Tom Menino didn’t do residents any favors by knocking them while they are down, telling a nationally read news publication he would like to level the area and rebuild it.

In a recent interview with New York Times Magazine online, when asked what cities he would like to visit, Menino told a reporter that Detroit was on the list, but he would “blow up the place” and start all over.

Here is the excerpt from the interview:

What would you do in Detroit?

 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.

Probably not the best statement coming from a guy whose city just experienced a set of explosions less than five months ago, and who is leaving office after a 20-year stint as an elected official in Boston.

But alas, Menino was quick to bite his tongue and apologized—through a spokesperson—after Detroit Mayor David Bing criticized Menino’s word choice and phrasing. “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 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.’”

Readers were also surprised by the mayor’s commentary. One person wrote in the comments section of the Times story:

“Dude! Seriously? You would BLOW UP Detroit? After 20 years in office, you don’t have a smarter, more sympathetic, more comprehensive analysis of the situation in Detroit? And in the shadow of the marathon bombing your suggestion is to BLOW UP Detroit?”

In response to Bing’s outrage, Menino’s spokesperson, Dot Joyce, told the Associated Press that the mayor didn’t mean any harm. “The mayor is sorry that people have taken offense,” she said. “It was never his intention.”

She said he meant he would “overhaul” the broken system.

But Bing was also upset that Menino took a bite out of his city’s operations, especially after Detroit filed for bankruptcy this summer. “I am also dismayed that Mayor Menino did not get his facts right before making his remarks to the widely-read New York Times,” he said, in response to Menino’s comment that it takes the Detroit Police Department 90 minutes to respond to emergency calls. “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.”

Bing challenged Menino to come visit Detroit to see the city for himself, before making statements like he did in the interview with the Times.