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This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Michigan’s anti-gay marriage law being upheld, the Detroit bankruptcy trial ruling, and what to expect during this term’s lame-duck session.


This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss Detroit’s water shutoffs, Detroit Public School’s emergency manager and updates from the campaign trail.

I once knew an opinion pollster who told me he could usually determine how anyone was going to vote without ever asking who they were going to vote for.

He did this by asking a series of litmus-test type questions about someone’s life, background and beliefs.

If you were a single mom with limited income, for example, that probably indicated you were a Democrat – unless you were a fundamentalist Christian. White professional male with a six-figure income?  Likely Republican if in business, for example. But probably not if he is a nonreligious professor.

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Water shutoffs to Detroiters who haven't paid their bills are not going to stop.

That's the result of a ruling today by federal bankruptcy judge Stephen Rhodes.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek says this ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Detroit residents and activists who wanted Judge Rhodes to issue a six-month moratorium on the controversial water shutoffs.

Sam Beebe

The judge in charge of Detroit’s bankruptcy case tentatively agreed Thursday to tour parts of the city—despite concerns about his safety.

City lawyers have been pushing Judge Steven Rhodes to take a city bus tour for some time now.

They say the judge needs to see the conditions in Detroit neighborhoods firsthand, to help him make informed decisions in the case.

Judge Steven Rhodes approved a key settlement in Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case Friday.

The deal will settle a costly interest-rate swaps agreement with two banks, UBS and Bank of America, for $85 million.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has pushed hard for such a deal. Detroit had guaranteed the swaps with casino revenue, and paid out about $200 million since 2009.

Detroit skyline
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There have been two big developments this week in the high-stakes showdown over Detroit's pensioners, its art treasures and creditors who hope bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will pressure the city to put those art treasures on the table.

There's a lot to try to sort out. So, as we do each Thursday, we spoke to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Listen to the full interview above.

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge has cleared the way for Detroit's Public Lighting Authority to immediately sell $60 million in bonds to begin fixing thousands of broken streetlights.

Judge Steven Rhodes issued his order Friday - three days after he allowed Detroit to become the largest U.S. city to enter bankruptcy.

Total financing for the lighting plan is expected to reach $210 million.

Rhodes' ruling also means $12.5 million in annual utility taxes approved by the state Legislature to back the bond sale will not be affected by the bankruptcy.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, there was a popular genre of fiction: Novels about the world when and after the presumably inevitable nuclear war happened.

One that I remember was set in rural Florida, one of the few places that avoided total destruction. The survivors set up what amounted to a working subsistence and barter economy. 

But for some, the psychological adjustment was impossible. The town banker sat among piles of paper money that he had always revered as sacred, and which suddenly had no value whatsoever. Unable to adjust, he kills himself.

Things are not nearly that bad in Detroit. But yesterday, there were clear signals that sacred cows really are going to be sacrificed. Public pensions were thought to be sacrosanct, protected by the state constitution. Well, they aren’t, according to Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. Federal law trumps state law. 

The judge’s decision to let the city of Detroit pursue Chapter Nine bankruptcy protection could have an effect on the municipal bond market.

Municipal bonds have long been viewed as one of the safest investments out there. But bond holders may be among the biggest losers in Detroit’s bankruptcy.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss Detroit's bankruptcy eligibility.

As many observers expected, Judge Steven Rhodes ruled yesterday that Detroit is bankrupt, and that the city can proceed with its Chapter 9 filing.  Judge Rhodes said the city did not negotiate in good faith with the creditors and it was clear the state planned the inevitable bankruptcy as soon as Kevyn Orr was named emergency manager for Detroit. Judge Rhodes also said public employee pensions can be cut as part of the restructuring. He also ruled Michigan's Emergency Manager law constitutional.


 Today, Judge Steven Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court ruled that while the City of Detroit did not negotiate with creditors in good faith, it did file for bankruptcy in good faith. His ruling makes Detroit eligible to file for the largest municipal bankruptcy in this country’s history.

David Shepardson, Washington reporter with the Detroit News has been following the bankruptcy. He joined us to talk about this historic ruling, and what to watch for in the coming months. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Tomorrow will be a historic day in Detroit. That's when a federal judge will decide whether the city is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. On today's show, we took a look at the different ways Judge Steven Rhodes could rule.

Then, we took a look at the future of newspapers. As newsrooms get smaller, and more people hop online for information, will the industry be able to reinvent itself and keep up with the times? 

And, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that pits Michigan against an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe. We discussed the case with Rick Pluta, who is reporting from Washington D.C..

Also, we spoke to a new Michigan music duo, The Accidentals. 

But, first on the show, the Board of State Canvassers today certified a voter-initiated petition that would put new restrictions on abortion insurance coverage in Michigan. The proposal would ban abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Women would only be able to purchase abortion coverage as a separate rider. The measure now goes to the state Legislature, which has 40 days to pass it. If not, it will go to voters on the 2014 ballot.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting joined us today to discuss the issue.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tomorrow will be one for the history books, not just here in Michigan but across the nation.

Tuesday morning is when Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will rule whether or not Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood has covered the bankruptcy trial, and he joined us today to talk about what might happen tomorrow morning.

Listen to the full interview above.

Tomorrow morning, Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will announce whether or not Detroit can file for bankruptcy. If, as expected, he does authorize this, it will mean grim times ahead.

The city almost certainly will lose some assets; creditors will get paid only a fraction of what they are owed, and elderly and retired city workers may lose at least some of their pensions.

None of this will be easy, or fun. But we all have to hope that is exactly what the judge does. Otherwise, the city will be in the position of a dying lamb among a flock of turkey buzzards.

The city has close to 100,000 creditors who together are owed probably more than $18 billion. If the judge rules Detroit is ineligible for bankruptcy, then that will take the freeze off all the lawsuits creditors filed against the city before the Motor City asked for bankruptcy protection back in July. 

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case has denied a bid to keep some details of a controversial loan agreement secret.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Thursday that the city must disclose all the terms of a proposed loan from the British financial giant Barclays. That loan deal is as complex as it is controversial.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy / Flikr

Today is the last day U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will accept documents from all sides of the Detroit bankruptcy case.

Rhodes will then look at all the evidence and decide whether the city of Detroit can reorganize itself under Chapter 9 bankruptcy laws. 

Rhodes has heard a lot. The city's future path will be up to him.

His decision will be based upon a) whether the city truly has no other options to pay its debts, a b) whether the city negotiated in good faith with its creditors prior to saying bankruptcy was the only way.

No one seems to be arguing that the city has a viable way to pay its debts. And Daniel Howes of the Detroit News argues that defining "good faith" negotiations in exceedingly difficult in this case.

That's because Detroit owes money to nearly 100,000 creditors.

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Former state Treasurer Andy Dillon finished his testimonial in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, bringing his three-day testimonial to a close.

On Tuesday, Dillon defended his recommendation for Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, saying it was a “last-resort option.” But some of Detroit's creditors are arguing that the decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was not exactly a last resort, but instead a quick decision that overlooked an opportunity to continue negotiations.

DETROIT (AP) - While a judge determines the future of Detroit's bankruptcy case, key people are meeting behind the scenes to try to reach deals.

Private mediation sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, at the same time the city tries to convince a judge that Detroit is eligible to fix its debts in bankruptcy court. The trial in front of Judge Steven Rhodes started on Oct. 23.

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit City Council has decided not to push an alternative to a $350 million loan designed to help the city pay off some of its massive pension debt.

Council members on Friday discussed the competing plan to the post-bankruptcy petition financial proposal engineered by state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

About $230 million from Barclays would be used to fully pay off a complicated pension debt deal involving two major creditors. The rest would be used to improve basic city services.

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