Detroit bankruptcy

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

Week in review for 8/10/13

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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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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