Detroit bankruptcy

Politics & Government
3:29 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

If Detroit's in bankruptcy court, why isn't Flint too?

Downtown Flint, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

With all the talk about Detroit’s path into bankruptcy court, some people have been asking why hasn’t Flint gone the same route?

Like Detroit, Flint’s city finances have been a mess for a long time.

Governor Snyder not only appointed an emergency manager to run Flint, he did so more than a year before he appointed one in Detroit.

Read more
Offbeat
2:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Detroit's massive jar of Crisco up for sale on eBay

"The Vessel of Hope"
Jerry Vile

So... anyone need a four-foot-tall can of Crisco?

Last week, Detroit-based artist Jerry Vile left a present for his recently bankrupt hometown -- a massive can of Crisco, placed under the Monument to Joe Louis, better known as The Fist.

Now the installation, titled “The Vessel of Hope” is up for auction on eBay.

At last check, the Crisco’s current bid sits at $560, with 12 currently vying for the giant can (and no, there’s no Crisco inside it).

“This piece represents my peaking as an artist,” Vile said on the selling page. “I am most likely never going to be able to do anything that gets the kind of attention or hits the nerve that this did.”

Read more
Politics & Government
6:20 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit to put a price on DIA, Windsor Tunnel and other assets

Peter Martorano Flickr

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr announced today that the city will start figuring out how much its assets are worth.

This comes as the bankrupt city is wrangling with creditors about how much of Detroit’s $11.5 billion unsecured debt will actually be repaid.

Orr also says he’s hiring Christie’s auction house to appraise the city-owned portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection.

It’s tough news to those still holding out hope that the museum will emerge unscathed from the bankruptcy process.

Read more
Stateside
5:19 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit could play a part in a metropolitan revolution

Detroit skyline seen from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River.
Bernt Rostad creative commons

An interview with Bruce Katz, vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Ever since the news broke that Detroit had filed for bankruptcy, there has been a tidal wave of stories about the Motor City sent to all corners of the world. A city in ruin. Street lights that don’t work. Police response times of nearly an hour. Broken fire rigs and no money for repairs. Abandoned buildings.

But the next guest believes that this historic bankruptcy provides not only new challenges, but new opportunities to hit the “reset” button and build a city core that can be vibrant and strong, hopefully strong enough to lift up other regions of the city.

Bruce Katz is a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Along with Jennifer Bradley, he is co-author of the new book “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.”

Read more
Politics & Culture
5:12 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Stateside for Monday, August 5th, 2013

When it comes to economic growth and finding an economic partner, it seems Michigan and China have a serious relationship. Last year, Michigan exported more than $3 billion worth of goods and services to China, only behind Canada and Mexico. We took a look at these economic ties and what they mean for the future.

And, we met a 17-year-old who is trying to keep her community clean, one trash bag at a time.

Also, we spoke with Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the new book “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy,” about rebuilding Detroit.

First on the show, tomorrow is primary election day. Detroit's primary is getting most of the attention, but there are local elections happening in many areas of the state on Tuesday.

In Flint, voters are choosing among two dozen candidates to fill largely powerless city council seats.

Flint has been under the control of an emergency manager since December of 2011. But while Flint city council members wield little power now, that may soon change.

Flint is taking steps to come out from under state oversight and that could happen late next year, so the Flint city council members elected from the field of Tuesday’s primary candidates may eventually have actual power to shape their city.

Voters are also casting primary ballots in parts of Lansing, Jackson, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

In all, voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

In Detroit, the stakes have never been higher because of the bankruptcy.

Detroit Free Press editorial writer Nancy Kaffer joined us today to give us a preview of the election.

Politics & Government
9:00 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy case comes into focus with second hearing

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

A federal bankruptcy judge ordered a committee to represent retiree interests in Detroit’s bankruptcy, as lawyers representing the city and creditors went head-to-head in court for the second time Friday.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has proposed cutting retirees’ pensions in his effort to restructure about $11 billion of the city’s debt.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:54 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Will Detroit’s bankruptcy affect your hometown?

Will Detroit's bankruptcy affect cities like Grand Rapids?
Steven Depolo Creative Commons

Listen to the on-air version of this story. An extended version is below.

It’s a question many in local governments across the state have been asking themselves lately.

There are a couple ways Detroit’s bankruptcy could have a bad influence on other local governments.

The simple way: not so good national media attention

The simplest way is all that bad press the nation’s biggest municipal bankruptcy will bring. But Detroit’s finances have been screwed up for decades. That’s not news. Economists that track indicators in West Michigan say it won’t help, but they do not expect this to be a big factor.

The more important way Detroit’s bankruptcy could affect small governments is much more complicated.

The complicated way: “unprecedented” threats to municipal bonds

First, you’ve got to understand these bonds are really important to local governments.

Read more
Politics & Government
11:24 am
Wed July 31, 2013

In Detroit, mayoral candidates slug it out to the finish

Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, right.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Detroit has an emergency manager—but more than a dozen people are still vying to be the city’s next mayor.

And most of them were on hand for a debate just a week before the city’s primary election last night.

A dozen candidates took to the stage—in groups—to share why they wanted to be mayor of the bankrupt city. There were so many candidates that there few opportunities for substantive debate.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan is considered one of the frontrunners—even though he’s not on the ballot. He’s waging a write-in campaign.

Duggan faced questions about “cronyism” dating back to his days as part of former Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara’s political machine.

He also responded to persistent questions about why he’s running for mayor—when he’s lived in Detroit for barely a year.

Read more
Newsmaker Interview
9:33 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Director of the DIA says 'too soon to panic'

Graham Beal is Director, President and CEO of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Interview aired on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013.

Detroit’s bankruptcy filing has triggered waves of speculation about what the future holds for the city. In recent months questions have circled around the Detroit Institute of Arts. The debate is whether the institution's art collection could be used to help Detroit balance its budget. But a recent opinion piece in the New York Times written by Director of the DIA, Graham Beal, cautioned against speculation about the museum’s future. 

Here's a quote from the article:

I call upon  journalists to resist the temptation to jump to disaster scenarios or to make the D.I.A.’s singular and highly complicated situation part of a broader story about the structural challenges faced by museums in general.

Listen to the full interview above.

Law
7:20 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy could scuttle wrongly-imprisoned man's lawsuit

Dwayne Provience, before his release from prison.

 The human costs of Detroit’s bankruptcy are revealing themselves as the case proceeds in court.

For Dwayne Provience, it means yet more uncertainty over an already years-long wrongful imprisonment lawsuit.

When a city files for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, all its lawsuits get put on hold. That’s a good thing for the city, as it struggles to conserve cash and get its financial house in order.

Read more
Economy
6:05 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

'We didn't get anything before the bankruptcy, we're not going to get anything after it'

Motor City Blight Busters founder John George, right, has demolished, boarded up, built or rehabbed 1,500 buildings since 1988. He says he doesn’t count on city hall for much of anything.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Click here to hear the story.

Detroit’s bankruptcy has been national, even international, news for more than a week now. But inside Detroit, many residents say they feel like they’ve been living in a bankrupt city for years. They’ve been working to do what the city should be doing, but doesn’t have the money to do. And they say more of their neighbors need to realize: nobody’s going to “save” their city but themselves.

Twenty-five years ago, John George got fed up with the blight in his neighborhood. He marshaled some neighbors, and boarded up the house in back of his.

That effort evolved into a group he calls Motor City Blight Busters.

“We just got done tearing down both these properties to your right and your left and this house is going to be next,” he said.

George’s crew is demolishing the vacant homes on two city blocks, and plans a large-scale garden for the neighborhood.

Let’s be clear here: It’s the city’s job to board up and tear down dangerous abandoned buildings, but there are almost 40,000 of them. The city just doesn’t have the money to put much of a dent in the problem, let alone keep on top of it.

George says he’s demolished, boarded up, built or rehabbed 1,500 buildings since 1988. He loves this city. But he says he doesn’t count on city hall for much of anything.

Read more
Stateside
5:33 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Detroit and other Michigan municipalities are behind in pension and retiree health care obligations

A hospital wing
Clarita MorgueFile

An interview with Anthony Minghine, the chief operating officer of the Michigan Municipal League.

By now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree’s benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion and behind in retiree health care funds by about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of the Michigan Municipal League.  He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:08 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Detroit native finds the silver lining in bankruptcy

Some people, like Matthew Naimi, see bankruptcy as an opportunity to address what's wrong with Detroit.
Sam Beebe Ecotrust

An interview with Matthew Naimi, the founder of the non-profit Recycle Here in Detroit.

An opinion piece caught our attention in the wake of the Detroit bankruptcy filing. The headline of the piece in the online magazine site Model D reads “Bankruptcy, the beginning of another opportunity.”

The author was Matthew Naimi, founder of the non-profit Recycle Here in Detroit. He describes bankruptcy as a chance to finally address the city’s dysfunction.

Naimi joined us today to discuss his piece.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:51 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

Investigative
7:00 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Detroit just among the first facing troubles funding retiree costs

Detroit city limits
Credit Sam Beebe / Ecotrust

Detroit’s bankruptcy is getting the headlines right now, but many governments in Michigan could be facing similar financial troubles in the future. Detroit might be just the first of many financial catastrophes in the state.

Detroit’s debt is supposed to be as much as $20 billion. About half of that is blamed on underfunded pensions and benefits for Detroit city retirees.

Read more
Stateside
5:26 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

How does Detroit compare to other bankrupt cities?

Stockton, California is the former largest city to file for bankruptcy.
Wikipedia

An interview with Bridge Magazine writer Ron French.

It's been just over a week since Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9.

Until now, that unwanted distinction belonged to Stockton, California.

Earlier this year, Bridge Magazine writer Ron French wrote an article about his visit to bankrupt Stockton and Vallejo, a California town that has emerged from bankruptcy.

As Ron puts it, if Stockton is an example of a city just being diagnosed with fiscal "cancer," Vallejo is a community that has finished chemotherapy. And so far nobody seems particularly thrilled with the results.

Ron French joined us today. 

Read more
Politics & Culture
4:57 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Stateside for Monday, July 29th, 2013

Today we focused our attention on what it takes to run an auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

And, we met a real life "Rosie the Riveter." She helped turn out bombers at the Willow Run Bomber Plant nearly 70 years ago.

And, we a got a preview of this year's Traverse City Film Festival, which kicks off this week.

Also, we took a look at what invasive plant species are threatening the Great Lakes and what can be done to stop them.

And, more and more people are doing their shopping on their smart phones. We spoke with a man from Ann Arbor who created an app to help with mobile shopping.

Also, John Fierst with the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University joined us to discuss Michigan In Letters, an online collection of letters that give insight to Michigan’s past.

First on the show, it's been just over a week since Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9.

Until now, that unwanted distinction belonged to Stockton, California. 

Earlier this year, Bridge Magazine writer Ron French wrote an article about his visit to bankrupt Stockton and Vallejo, a California town that has emerged from bankruptcy.

As Ron puts it, if Stockton is an example of a city just being diagnosed with fiscal "cancer," Vallejo is a community that has finished chemotherapy. And so far nobody seems particularly thrilled with the results.

Ron French joined us today. 

Politics & Government
10:39 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Moody's: Detroit could set municipal bankruptcy prededent

Detroit City Hall
user pasa47 Flickr

Moody's Investors Service says other financially distressed cities in the U.S. are closely watching Detroit as it goes through bankruptcy.

Analyst Anne Van Praagh  of Moody's says other cities might follow Detroit's path, if the city can jettison most of its bond debt and reduce its pension obligations.

"But if Detroit finds itself bogged down in years of onerous proceedingd, or fails to materially reduce its debt, than that may actually be a deterrent for others to follow their approach," Van Praagh notes.

Read more
Law
8:17 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

Michigan Attorney General to challenge changes to Detroit pensions

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
AG's office

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the state constitution protects Detroit pension benefits from being reduced or eliminated by the city’s bankruptcy.

Schuette says he will be in court Monday asking to join the case on behalf of pensioners.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes took control of lawsuits challenging the bankruptcy filing because it puts city pension benefits in jeopardy. But he has not ruled on the substance of the question, which is whether the benefits are shielded by protections in the Michigan Constitution.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

U.S. senators want to prevent a federal bailout of Detroit

Credit Patricia Drury / Flickr

A group of Republican U.S. senators wants to prohibit the federal government from providing financial support to Detroit.

Read more

Pages