Detroit bankruptcy

Politics & Culture
5:32 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Stateside for Monday, September 9, 2013

Ever since the city of Detroit's historic bankruptcy filing, there have been accusatory fingers pointed at past mayoral administrations -- black administrations.

On today's show, we talked with Marilyn Katz. She played a leading role in the Students for a Democratic Society demonstrations and has recently penned the piece "Detroit's Downfall: Beyond the Myth of Black Misleadership."

And, the band "Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr." stopped by to talk about the inspiration for their music.

Also, Michigan plans to try experimental "social impact bonds." What are these bonds and what do they mean for the state?

First on the show, as the headlines unfold over the civil war in Syria and whether the United States should or should not take military action against Bashar Assad's regime, there are thousands of people in Michigan watching with the most intense interest.

Syrians first started coming to Michigan at the turn of the 20th Century. Today, the Syrian Community in Michigan numbers about 25,000.

We wanted to get a sense of what this civil war looks and feels like for these thousands of people in Michigan with close ties to Syria.

Dr. Yahya Basha came from Syria to Southeast Michigan in 1972 after graduating from medical school at the University of Damascus. He is a leader in the Syrian-American Community in Michigan.

He joined us today.

Stateside
5:27 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Who is to blame for Detroit's bankruptcy?

Marilyn Katz is the founder and president of MK Communications in Chicago.
Twitter

Ever since Detroit made history with its bankruptcy filing, there has been a mountain of opinion as to what got us here, what exactly happened, and why.

There have been many accusatory fingers pointed at black leaders like Kwame Kilpatrick and Coleman Young, at union leaders, even at Detroiters themselves.

But, there are, of course, other views about just what went wrong in Detroit.

One such view comes from Marilyn Katz of Chicago, a long-time liberal political and social activist, dating back to the 60's. Katz was an active member of Students for a Democratic Society, the SDS. She played a leading role in the SDS demonstrations during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.

Katz recently published a piece on the website inthesetimes.com.

Its title? "Detroit's Downfall: Beyond the Myth of Black Misleadership."

Marilyn Katz joined us from Chicago, where she heads up her firm MK Communications.

Listen to the full interview above.

Opinion
8:39 am
Mon September 9, 2013

The key to Detroit’s success after bankruptcy

Lessenberry essay for 9/9/13

Detroit is in the news a lot these days, and will continue to be, for obvious reasons, as the city goes through the agony of the bankruptcy process while simultaneously conducting an election. An election, that is, for a new mayor and City Council who will be essentially figureheads until Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr leaves, something that will probably happen a little over a year from now.

But while the media is concentrating on the bankruptcy itself, I sense that we aren’t asking the really important questions. For me, the most important of all is simply this: What happens after bankruptcy is over?

There are streets in Detroit that bear an uncanny resemblance to Germany at the end of World War II. The shells of red brick buildings stand, most of them burned out, roofless, some with homeless and destitute people squatting in the ruins.

Looking at a street like that the other day, I was struck by the thought that throughout the last year of the Second World War, as vast armies raged across Europe, there were teams of planners in Washington and elsewhere working on how to govern the conquered nations after the war; How to lead them on an eventual path to a return to normalcy and democratic self-government.

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Politics & Government
5:23 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Misspent retirement funds 'robbed' Detroit's General pension

Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

Money in Detroit’s pension fund was misspent on bonus checks, The Detroit News’ Robert Snell reported.

That information is coming from a report on the city’s General pension fund from consulting firm Conway MacKenzie. According to the report, more than $532 million was distributed as bonus checks over the last two decades, instead of staying in the pension fund’s coffers.

The so-called 13th checks — or annual bonuses — weren’t a part of the city’s pension plan. Yet, the report claims that even in the “good and bad years,” the money intended for the workers’ saving plans was doled out early -- which according to the report, was “effectively robbing (the General pension fund) of precious funds necessary to support the traditional pensions the city had promised.”

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Politics & Government
7:28 am
Wed September 4, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Medicaid expansion, Duggan wins, Casino money for Detroit

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Medicaid expansion awaits Governor Snyder's signature

The state House took final action yesterday to approve a Medicaid expansion in Michigan. It now awaits Governor Rick Snyder's signature. However, the bill does not have immediate effect, meaning it won’t start until the spring, instead of in January. The delay will cost the state $7 million a day in federal funds.

Duggan is the official winner of Detroit mayoral primary

"The board of state canvassers has declared Mike Duggan the winner of Detroit’s mayoral primary. The state took over the issue after Wayne County elections officials threw out thousands of write-in votes based on how they had been tabulated. Duggan was a write-in candidate. The state restored more than 24-thousand votes to Duggan, giving him a big margin of victory over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Detroit EM says casino money is key for Detroit

"Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager testified that access to casino tax revenues is key to the city staying afloat financially. During the deposition, Kevyn Orr said he has 'no plans to use art to relieve the liquidity crisis that the city is in now,'" the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
7:44 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Detroit emergency manager fires pension fund chair

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager has fired the chairman of one of the city's two pension funds from his municipal job.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report Friday that Kevyn Orr fired Cedric Cook. Cook served as a senior data program analyst for information technology services and has been chairman of the Detroit General Retirement System.

Cook took an all-expenses-paid trip this year to a conference in Hawaii. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says the dismissal was due to Cook's poor job performance, not for taking the trip.

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Politics & Government
12:54 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Detroit officials and creditors meeting today behind closed doors with new mediator

Detroit skyline in the distance.
user: jodelli Flickr

Chad Livengood of the Detroit News reports that a closed-door meeting will take place today between the city and bond insurers, pension funds, and Detroit's casinos.

Livengood reports a Portland-based bankruptcy judge, Elizabeth Perris, will be leading the mediation. She's worked on the Stockton, CA bankruptcy proceedings.

Here's what they'll be talking about according to Livengood:

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Politics & Government
12:49 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Orr says Detroit's parking system losing money, considering sale

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

The Detroit News reports that Kevyn Orr is considering a sale of the city's parking system.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is looking into this story further and will have more later.

Parking systems can be a source of revenue for a city, but according to the News, Orr says the system is losing money:

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Stateside
6:04 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

The DIA is facing trouble from Oakland County

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An interview with Daniel Howes.

It's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering over the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from the Oakland County.

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA now faces.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:44 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

What's the view of Detroit from 'Up North?'

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An interview with Ken Winter and Jack Lessenberry.

In the five weeks since Detroit filed for bankruptcy, there has been much conversation, much reporting, much editorializing.

What does it mean? Who will be affected? How can Detroit turn itself around? A lot of opinions, and a lot of views.

One view we have not gotten yet on Stateside is the view of the Detroit bankruptcy from "Up North."

That's something we remedied today as we welcomed Ken Winter, former editor and publisher of the Petoskey News-Review and member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

And, freshly returned from his trip to the Upper Peninsula, where he was able to get an up-close take on the UP's view of Detroit, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry also joined the discussion.

Listen to the full interview above.

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

Week in Michigan politics interview

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

An interview with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek.

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

An interview with Detroit Free Press staff writer Mark Stryker.

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
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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

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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
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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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