Local 4's Rod Meloni is blogging from inside the hearing Tuesday morning where a judge will declare whether Detroit is eligible to file for bankruptcy.
The hearing is at 10 a.m. and the decision will come sometime after that.
The courthouse doors opened at 7 a.m., the line quickly formed thereafter.
There are three overflow rooms to accommodate the large crowd in the courthouse today. Security is tight, the bomb sniffing dog checked any and all public areas in, around and even near the courtroom. Judge Steven Rhodes is very prompt so we expect him to take the bench at any minute. We will have full details of his words from the bench in the moments to come.
Rhodes has started and told everyone to settle in. The written opinion is more than 140 pages! The judge feels his summary is more accessible.
The judge feels it is vitally important for all who
The city of Detroit was once a proud city, rightfully the birthplace of the automotive industry. In the early 1950s it was building half of the world’s cars. But since them the city has been in decline. Mounting crime rates, the city no longer has the resources to provide residents with basic services for basic health and safety.
To reverse this decline and to revitalize and reinvigorate itself the city needs help. The city estimates its debt at $18 billion, $11.9 in unsecured debt. It has more than 100,000 creditors. It includes $5.9 billion in OPEB, “other benefits.”
The judge is listing the city’s financial ills.
Judge Rhodes the court is satisfied the city has given proper accounting of its financial troubles for the purposes of these proceedings.
The judge further stated he believes the pension assumptions the city is making are proper.
Judge Rhodes is now addressing the deal or “swap” former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick entered into to prop up its pensions. He is detailing the losses “catastrophic losses” the city suffered under this “bet.”
He is detailing over a billion dollars in losses the city incurred in this deal. The city estimates 38% of tax revenues go to debts and without changes it will increase to 65% in five years at the same time that tax and state revenue sharing is going down.
The judge pointed out the city is carrying a $237 million budget deficit. That is the good news. Had the city not borrowed considerable sums, the city would have a $700 million dollar budget deficit.
He points out the city did not pay $120 million in pension obligations. By 2017, the city estimates its accumulated deficits will exceed one billion dollars. Without deferring pension payments the city would have run out of cash by June 30th, 2013. The city filed for Bankruptcy 18 days later. The judge stressed this point twice!
The judge is now talking about population loss and the below investment grade bond ratings.
He is talking about violent crime clearances, substantially below national large cities and surrounding communities. 40% of 88,000 street lights not working. 78,000 abandoned and blighted buildings, 30% considered dangerous. In 2012, the average priority response time was a half hour and the national average is 11 minutes. He is discussing the shabby condition of the police department and its outdated technology. He points out the ill equipped Detroit Fire Department is in similarly poor condition.
The city has reduced 2,700 employees over the past couple of years, now has just under 10,000 employees with 40 different bargaining units.
Judge Rhodes is now discussing the events that led up to Public Act 436 became effective and gives the history of the emergency management process proceeded.
He believes this kind of detailed accounting of his decision is more accessible to citizens.