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Skepticism, concern from citizens in bankrupt Detroit

By STEVE NEAVLING
July 19, 2013

An old message from a bygone era (Reuters)

An old message from a bygone era (Reuters)

Some Detroit residents voiced skepticism on Thursday that the former U.S. manufacturing powerhouse would emerge in better shape from its historic bankruptcy filing designed to fix the city’s financial crisis.

Hours after learning Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, residents spoke of the stark realities that come with living in a financially broken city.

“It was like putting a thumb in a dam,” said Jodie Holmes, 55, as he leaned against an abandoned restaurant marked with graffiti, waiting for a bus to take him to his temporary job.

“I don’t know if bankruptcy will help us or drop us to our knees,” he added.

Detroit filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy in federal court on Thursday. The bankruptcy, if approved by a federal judge, would force Detroit’s thousands of creditors into negotiations with the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to resolve an estimated $18.5 billion in debt that has crippled Michigan’s largest city.

Detroit was once synonymous with U.S. manufacturing prowess. Its automotive giants switched production to planes, tanks and munitions during World War Two, earning the city the nickname of the “Arsenal of Democracy.”

Now a third of Detroit’s 700,000 residents live in poverty and about a fifth are unemployed.

“Maybe bankruptcy will help. I don’t know,” said lifelong Detroiter Damien Collins, 68, outside his east-side house surrounded by abandoned homes.

The retired autoworker said he had given up hope anything would bring back Detroit.

“Nothing else has worked, so why not try it?” he asked.

Detroit’s economic struggles have resulted in a deterioration of city life. The murder rate is the highest in nearly 40 years, only a third of its ambulances were in service in the first quarter of 2013 and nearly 78,000 abandoned buildings create “additional public safety problems,” Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, wrote in a letter accompanying the filing.

Residents have also had to cope with a breakdown of services. Forty percent of street lights were non-functional in the first three months of this year, while the police took an average of 58 minutes to respond to emergency calls, more than five times the national average. The city government has also been plagued by mismanagement and political corruption.

“Detroit has a lot to offer, but we need a clean sweep of politicians,” said Joanna Maslach, 30, a restaurant manager. “There’s still too much corruption here. It’s too dysfunctional.”

Jim Fields, 37, who recently moved to a downtown loft from the suburbs, is one who believes the city is poised for a comeback. He is among a growing number of professionals moving to historic buildings converted into loft spaces.

“Bankruptcy hits the reset button,” the software engineer said. “It’s a golden opportunity to make this city right again. I’m very hopeful.”

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Copyright  © 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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3 Responses to Skepticism, concern from citizens in bankrupt Detroit

  1. Carl Nemo **==

    July 19, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Detroit’s bankruptcy should be a shot across the bow as a wakeup call to Americans as to where this nation is ultimately headed.

    Unfortunately Detroit cannot print money as our now out of control Fed~U.S. Treasury axis of counterfeiting evil/scam known as QE ‘forever'; I.E., a closed loop of our government purchasing it’s own debt via the endless printing of money out of thin air. / : |

    There will be other cities to follow within the next decade unless national insolvency should preempt such serial financial corrosion of our towns, cities and state governments.

    Americans have been living large swiping their credit cards so to speak; I.E, enjoy a service or material good immediately with little thought as to how some genuine sweat equity as a function of creativity and productivity is going pay off said debt.

    This current sequestration at the Federal level along with this bankruptcy scenario for Detroit is simply a prevue of coming attractions.

    No amount of grandstanding on the part of politicians faciliatated by a totally compromised MSM will change our course.

    Savvy citizens will start preparing for the worst if they haven’t done so already in terms of provisioning and getting their personal financial house in order. Citizens need to countenance a time when there will be no check in the mail or auto deposit as a function of their bust government or company pension plans. For sure the process will start with serious reductions of benefits both public and private.

    The scamsters at the highest levels our government and corporate America will weather the storm quite well witnessing the rioting and blood running in the streets from their distant enclaves, mountain retreats, and taxpayer provided government bunkers via satellite along with the comfort of many years supply of food and other pleasures I darest not enumerate.

    With reference to many years of ever-increasing corruption in government and business…

    *****

    “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up…Hosea 8:7 KJV

    *****

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. TheRealRaven

    July 19, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Bloated pensions, a narrow focused economy, White flight, entitlement mentality, excessive crime, failing schools, corrupt politicians and probably 20 more reasons. Is it all the fault of Democrats?

    Well…..that “D” is everywhere in the politics of Detroit. But here in Boston it – that “D” – is prevalent and the city is top end successful. Ditto for many other cities with that “D.” Ditto for failure with many other cities with a “D.” Maybe the Democrats need to seriously examine their own litter box and attempt to cut some from the herd that simply don’t belong.

    • Keith

      July 20, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Bloated pensions, a narrow focused economy, White flight, entitlement mentality, excessive crime, failing schools, corrupt politicians and probably 20 more reasons. Is it all the fault of Democrats?

      Not entirely.

      But corruption and a “tax and spend” mentality were certainly contributing factors. And those traits have traditionally been associated with the Democratic Party.

      Clearly, Detroit’s ills have been long in coming. But, when faced with year after year of budget shortfalls, Detroit’s elected officials simply gave in to municipal union pressure, jacked up their (already confiscatory) tax rates and “kicked the can down the road”.

      And now Detroit’s gormless politicians have the nerve to wonder why fully half of their city’s once teeming population of 1.2 Million persons have departed to live and work elsewhere!

      Indeed, one City Councilwoman was recently heard to say, “We elected you, Mr. Obama, now where’s our federal aid?”

      And while the mismanagement (and later collapse) of the US auto industry is certainly partly to blame for some of Detroit’s ills, I also have to believe that a population base of largely uneducated (and therefore unskilled) workers who couldn’t do anything else once their unskilled jobs went South has also been a major factor contributing to Detroit’s economic demise.

      In many ways, our education system in the USA country is STILL aimed at preparing our children to work in factories. Rote memorization and regurgitation of facts rules the day in our nation’s classrooms.

      So, on the one hand, we continue to ask why the rest of the world’s economies are now starting to outpace us. Yet, we STILL keep cranking out a potential workforce of largely uneducated (and, in far too many cases, functionally illiterate) robots.

      In many ways, Detroit is the “poster child” for all of these accumulated ills. But, they (and their elected officials) also made their “bed” and are now “sleeping” in it.