Detroit bankruptcy

Politics & Culture
5:39 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

On today’s show we explored the differences residents in the UP have as compared with "trolls," you know, residents under the Mackinac Bridge.

How do perspectives about our state change depending on where we live?

And, we got the story behind Banner Gibson guitars in Kalamazoo and the women who made them.

Also, the UP’s own poet laureate joined us to talk about the rise in regional poet laureates, as well as what that honor means to him.

First on the show, as you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Politics & Government
9:28 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Week in Michigan politics: Detroit mayoral election, bankruptcy and Pontiac's finances

State lawmakers have passed bills allowing the city to keep taxing at certain rates. The legislation awaits Governor Snyder's approval.
Bob Jagendorf Flickr

This week in Michigan politics Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss ballot issues that have emerged in the Detroit mayoral race, the objection filings to Detroit's bankruptcy and Pontiac coming out of emergency management.

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Stateside
5:31 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Creditors, unions, and retirees file formal complaints against Detroit's bankruptcy eligibility

Peter Martorano Flickr

Does Detroit qualify for bankruptcy protection? That’s the question Judge Stephen Rhodes of federal bankruptcy court will have to decide later this fall. Monday was the last day for creditors, unions and retirees to file formal challenges to Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection.

Now that the eligibility objection deadline has come and gone, we wanted to get an idea who objected, why, and what happens next.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek joined us today from Detroit.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:24 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The deadline to formally object to Detroit's bankruptcy filing has come and gone as yesterday was the deadline to file challenges to the city's eligibility for Chapter 9 protection. On today's show: we took a look at the objections and where things go from here.

Also, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has requested that the collection of city-owned art at the DIA be formally appraised. What does this mean for the museum, the city of Detroit, and the art world?

And, the Amish community in North America has grown 20% over the past five years. We explored what's behind the growth.

First on the show, after nearly 5 years, the city of Pontiac's financial emergency is officially resolved.

Emergency manager Lou Schimmel resigned yesterday, but the state will still have a heavy hand in the city's finances.

A Transition Advisory Board appointed by Governor Snyder will have to approve all major budget decisions.

Lou Schimmel joined us today.

Stateside
4:49 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Kevyn Orr requests formal appraisal of the DIA's collection

Flickr

The eyes of the art world are trained on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Christie's Auction House is formally appraising the city-owned works at the DIA at the request of emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

The very hint of the idea that pieces in the DIA collection could be sold off to satisfy Detroit's creditors has had the impact of a tsunami in the art world.

The DIA says the collection doesn't belong to the city, it belongs to the public, and thus, is protected by a public trust. These are all questions federal judge Steven Rhodes will eventually decide.

So now, with this appraisal, there's this for the art world and art patrons to consider: when Christie's delivers its report to Orr, it will be the first time the public gets an idea of the market value of thousands of pieces of art at a world-class museum.

Detroit Free Press staff writer Mark Stryker recently wrote an article about the appraisals, and he joined us today to talk about what this means for the DIA, the city of Detroit, and for the art world.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
12:54 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Objections flood in as deadline passes to oppose Detroit bankruptcy

The Detroit Institute of Arts was one group that did not file an objection to Detroit's bankruptcy filing.
user aMichiganMom Flickr

Tuesday saw a flood of court filings from Detroit's creditors.

Midnight was the deadline for creditors to file objections to Detroit's request for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy protection.

About 100 unions, pensioners, and individuals filed objections with the court.

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Politics & Government
9:07 am
Tue August 20, 2013

In this morning's news: Bankruptcy objections filed, Pontiac EM resigns, 'smoke-free' law clarified

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Dozens of objections to Detroit's bankruptcy filed yesterday

Yesterday was the deadline for creditors to file objections to the city of Detroit’s request for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. A flood of objections was filed by unions, pensioners, and others. The objections argued that the city is not insolvent, that it failed to negotiate with creditors in good faith before filing for bankruptcy, and that the filing violates constitutional protections for public pensions. Judge Steven Rhodes will review the claims. He has scheduled an October hearing to determine the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection, according to Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett.

Pontiac's financial emergency officially over

Pontiac’s nearly five-year-long financial emergency is officially resolved. The city has made some major changes in the past five years, including cutting the general fund budget by half and merging the fire department with nearby Waterford.

“Emergency manager Lou Schimmel resigned yesterday, saying the city’s financial emergency is ‘resolved.’ But the state will still have a heavy hand in Pontiac’s finances. A Transition Advisory Board appointed by Governor Snyder will have to approve all major budget decisions,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

Restaurants can have outdoor smoking areas under 'smoke-free' law

“The Michigan Department of Agriculture says outdoor smoking areas are OK, as long as employees don’t have to wait on customers in those spaces. That means no food or drinks - unless patrons are allowed to bring them in themselves. Director Jamie Clover Adams says the state’s ‘smoke-free’ law was unclear when it comes to outdoor smoking sections. The Michigan Restaurant Association says it does not expect many establishments to allow smoking in outdoor areas because cutting food and beverage services in those spaces would be too costly for most restaurants,” Jake Neher reports.

Politics & Government
7:45 am
Mon August 19, 2013

In this morning's news: Deadline for Detroit creditors, drunken boating, sea lamprey survey

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Deadline for objecting Detroit bankruptcy arrives

“Banks, bond insurers, employee pension systems and others who believe they are owed money by Detroit are up against the clock to legally voice opposition to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. A federal judge set today as the eligibility objection deadline in the bankruptcy petition by Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager Kevin Orr,” the Associated Press reports.

Drunken boating still a problem on the Great Lakes

“The U.S. Coast Guard says boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a serious problem on the Great Lakes. Personnel stationed on the lakes had issued 89 citations for drunken boating this year through Aug. 13. That's up from 84 during the same period in 2012. Alcohol is a leading cause of fatal boating accidents. Penalties for piloting a boat while drunk can reach $5,000,” the Associated Press reports.

Feds to survey the Detroit River for sea lamprey

“A team with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will estimate the abundance of sea lamprey in the Detroit River this month to determine what control measures might be needed. Lampreys attach to fish and use their sharp teeth dig through a fish's scales and skin and feed on blood and body fluids. The average lamprey will destroy up to 40 pounds of fish. Crews have kept lamprey numbers under control by applying a specially designed poison to streams where they lay eggs,” according to the Associated Press.

Politics & Government
10:04 am
Fri August 16, 2013

In this morning's news: the Affordable Care Act, Detroit's legal fees, and the Ford C-Max

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Affordable Care Act provides healthcare counselors

Low income Michigan residents will soon have help navigating their new insurance options.  According to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody, four groups in the state, including Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, are training employees to counsel individuals on their Obamacare choices.  The Affordable Care Act goes into effect on January 1st but people will have two months to enroll.

Detroit's bankruptcy is costly

Though Detroit's creditors may never be paid back, the city's lawyers and consultants stand to make a lot of money.  The Detroit Free Press has reported that the legal fees could reach $100 million.  But Michigan Radio's Lester Graham reports that the total could eventually double that or even more.

Ford C-Max not as efficient as advertised

The Ford Motor Company has had to adjust its reported gas mileage for the C-Max after it previously overstated the figure.  Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports that Ford advertised a 47 mpg for the C-Max. Consumer Reports magazine tested the vehicle and reported an average 37 mpg.

Investigative
7:00 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees still pocket change in Detroit bankruptcy

The alternative to paying expensive lawyers to negotiate the bankruptcy is to watch creditors strip the City of Detroit of every scrap of an asset.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings involve massive amounts of money. A lot of creditors and possibly city retirees are likely to lose a lot of money. But, there are some people who are going to make a lot of money because of this bankruptcy.

Filing bankruptcy, restructuring debt, reorganizing Detroit’s operations are all incredibly complicated and incredibly expensive.

The Detroit Free Press suggested legal fees could top $100 million.

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Politics & Government
4:42 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

First public debt is issued in Michigan since Detroit bankruptcy

State lawmakers have passed bills allowing the city to keep taxing at certain rates. The legislation awaits Governor Snyder's approval.
Bob Jagendorf Flickr

People are willing to loan money to Michigan public entities again: that's according to Brian O'Connor, the finance editor at the Detroit News.

O'Connor writes that when Ypsilanti Community Schools and the state sold bonds yesterday, it marked the "first time since Detroit filed for bankruptcy" that public debt was issued in Michigan. 

From The Detroit News:

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Politics & Government
12:04 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Auction house seeks meeting with officials from Detroit Institute of Arts

DIA

DETROIT (AP) - Officials with the international auction house Christie's want to meet with the Detroit Institute of Arts officials. Christie's has been hired to appraise pieces in the museum's collection as the city seeks bankruptcy protection.

   DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson tells The Associated Press Wednesday that the art institute is "in the process of scheduling a meeting with Christie's to determine how they want to handle this."

   The city purchased many of the pieces in the DIA collection years ago during more prosperous times, and art could be considered assets in a bankruptcy.

   State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr made the bankruptcy filing last month.

   DIA Director Graham Beal told The Detroit News that the museum would sue to block any potential sale of works from its collection, noting that such litigation could take years.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the meeting had been requested by the DIA. Michigan Radio regrets the error.

Politics & Government
12:50 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Consultant fees charged to the city of Detroit scrutinized

From the cover of the Jones Day proposal to be the city's 'restructuring counsel.'
Jones Day

Bills being charged to the city of Detroit in its restructuring are under the spotlight.

Last month, legal fees charged by Kevyn Orr's former law firm, Jones Day, were highlighted in a piece by AM Law Daily's Sara Randazzo.

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Investigative
3:56 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy just the tip of the iceberg

"Detroit's unfunded pension shortfall is just a drop in the bucket," argues the Heritage Foundation. Rachel Greszler is co-author of a brief which compares Detroit to the federal government.
Credit The Heritage Foundation

A Washington think tank is warning Congress that Detroit is just the first major example of financial troubles facing the nation.

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Politics & Government
12:42 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Economist says banks should be at the back of the line in Detroit bankruptcy

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote about Detroit's bankruptcy filing in yesterday's New York Times.

In his opinion piece, The Wrong Lessons from Detroit's Bankruptcy, Stiglitz writes that it is "extremely important" to understand what happened in Detroit.

Detroit’s travails arise in part from a distinctive aspect of America’s divided economy and society ... our country is becoming vastly more economically segregated, which can be even more pernicious than being racially segregated. Detroit is the example par excellence of the seclusion of affluent (and mostly white) elites in suburban enclaves. There is a rationale for battening down the hatches: the rich thus ensure that they don’t have to pay any share of the local public goods and services of their less well-off neighbors, and that their children don’t have to mix with those of lower socioeconomic status.

Stiglietz says the question in front of Detroit now is how the city gets through the bankruptcy process, and that "ensuring that bankruptcy proceeds in a way that is good for Detroit will require vigilance."

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat August 10, 2013

The week in review: Mike Duggan's write-in campaign, the DIA collection and sentencing reform

DIA
user aMichiganMom Flickr

This "week in review," Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Detroit primary results, the future of the DIA collection, and prison sentencing reform in Michigan.

Mike Duggan sweeps the primary vote

Mike Duggan's write-in campaign ended this week with surprising success. 85 percent of voters who wrote in his name spelled it correctly resulting in a huge lead for the Detroit mayoral contender.

Jack Lessenberry says, "It'll remain to be seen what happens in November.  One thing we know is that a lot more people will vote."

DIA collection appraised by Christie's Auction House

The Detroit Institute of Arts collection has been put at risk by Detroit's bankruptcy. The city invited Christie's Auction House to appraise the collection, perhaps simply to take inventory of its assets.

Lessenberry thinks that people are panicked about the possible sale of the art.  He says "the Attorney General thinks it's not constitutional, although if a federal bankruptcy judge says it is, federal law trumps state law."

Michigan considers parole and sentencing reform

Conservative lawmakers are considering overhauling prison sentences.  State Representative Joe Haveman is leading the cause, citing that harsher sentences are not keeping us any safer.

Lessenberry says, "Michigan locks up more people, locks them up for longer, and it costs us more.  It costs $34,000 per prisoner and we have 44,000 prisoners."

Politics & Government
2:11 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Oakland County to move ahead with bond sale; other Michigan municipalities not so lucky

Oakland County is going ahead with a planned bond sale next week.

And according to county officials, they won’t be penalized for Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing.

Oakland County has the highest bond rating possible—AAA. And officials say that’s allowed them to sell bonds at a reasonable interest rate, despite Detroit’s recent bankruptcy.

From the Detroit Free Press:

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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