What could Detroit EFM really achieve in 18 months?

Pontiac emergency manager, bankruptcy attorney weigh in on what Detroit EFM could get done within 18 months

DETROIT – Pontiac Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel is on of the state's most experienced, having done the job three times. Bankruptcy attorney Doug Bernstein runs the Plunkett Cooney bankruptcy practice.

Both Schimmel and Bernstein have low expectations for what Detroit's own emergency manager might accomplish.

Related: Does Pontiac EFM prove such management works?

"If you do as I've done as an emergency manager and fix problem, after problem, after problem ... you won't make it in 5 years let alone 18 months," said Schimmel.

Among the things Schimmel and Bernstein agree on is that Detroit needs deficit reduction, improved tax collection, and end to spending money the city does not have and reduced departments and employees.

"Eighteen months isn't enough probably to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished, but it's certainly enough time to get a good start on it," said Bernstein.

Everyone in the city is left to wonder whether the emergency manager will find a problem so large that he or she will end up needing to declare a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy. Bernstein believes that would be a disaster because no advanced planning has taken place.

"Bankruptcy is the last resort. It's not something that you just jump into and then wing it as you go. That is a process that would take considerably longer than 18 months," he said.

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