http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/354697

Op-Ed: Detroit largest city in US history to declare bankruptcy

Posted Jul 19, 2013 by Ken Hanly
After several decades of decline and mismanagement the city of Detroit has finally filed for bankruptcy. The governor of Michigan Rick Snyder said today (July 18) that there was no longer any other option to deal with the city's $18.5 billion debt.
Inside of the Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit s Milwaukee Junction neighborhood
Inside of the Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit's Milwaukee Junction neighborhood
In a video on the Michigan state website Snyder said: "This is a situation that's been 60 years in the making in terms of the decline of Detroit. From a financial point of view, let me be blunt, Detroit is broke." Snyder also said: "The fiscal realities confronting Detroit have been ignored for too long..I'm making this tough decision so the people of Detroit will have the basic services they deserve and so we can start to put Detroit on a solid financial footing.The only feasible path to a stable and solid Detroit is to file for bankruptcy protection."
The filing may mean that the city could be forced to lay off more municipal workers, sell assets, and cut back even further on already poor services. As the appended video shows, however, many workers feel that they might be better off facing a bankruptcy judge than the emergency manager Kevyn Orr appointed by Snyder earlier this year.
The city's employees pension plans filed a lawsuit to prevent cuts to retirement benefits a move that helped block such action by the emergency manager. The case is now on hold while a federal judge decides if Detroit can restructure or even shed some of its obligations perhaps including some of the $9 billion the city owes to the city employee pension plans.
Michael Sweet, who is a bankruptcy lawyer, said that the city would pay current employees but beyond that he claims that all bets are off. He says that under Chapter 9 protection they are not required to pay anyone they do not want to, and no one can sue them.
Michigan State University professor Eric Scorsone says Detroit’s path to bankruptcy has been over a long period of time: “It was a one-industry city. Unlike Chicago, New York and other cities that had economic diversity, Detroit really didn’t. It had the auto industry, it had suppliers to the auto industry, and so as those went away, the city began a very long decline that’s really occurred over 50 years essentially."
Urban planning professor, Robin Boyle, from Wayne State University points to another cause of population decline in the city, residents moving to the suburbs or out of the area entirely: “They have so little disposable income to reinvest in their communities, that if they have money they leave, they go to the suburbs or they go to find work elsewhere, putting us into this vicious cycle that drives us further and further down. How you break that is the challenge in Detroit".
Snyder points out some of the issues Detroit faces. Although the murder rate is the highest in 40 years, police response time is almost an hour, compared to an average response rate of 11 minutes nationwide. Forty per cent of the city street lights do not work. There are a total of 78,000 abandoned buildings in the city. Only a third of city's ambulance function, and the police cars and fire trucks are in poor condition since there are not adequate funds for proper upkeep.
The huge debt load means that 38 cents of every dollar the city collects goes just to repay debt. By 2017 this is projected to reach 65 cents if nothing is done. Whatever happens next, it would seem that the Detroit civic workers will probably suffer a decline in wages and retirees in pension benefits.
Detroit in pictures by Matt Harding, Digital Journalist
A bicyclist rides by my camera through Detroit s Hart Plaza toward the Renaissance Center
A bicyclist rides by my camera through Detroit's Hart Plaza toward the Renaissance Center
A home on Detroit s west side became a victim of arson on Angel s Night (10/30/10) [Taken from backy...
A home on Detroit's west side became a victim of arson on Angel's Night (10/30/10) [Taken from backyard]
Occupy Detroit
Occupy Detroit
Detroit s skyline as seen from Belle Isle Park
Detroit's skyline as seen from Belle Isle Park
Graffiti in Detroit
Graffiti in Detroit
Graffiti in Detroit
Graffiti in Detroit
Motown Museum
Home of the original Motown Studios, located on Grand Blvd. in Detroit where the majority of Motown's hits were recorded.
Photo by detroitderek
Comerica Park  Detroit: A great view of Comerica Park during batting practice
Comerica Park, Detroit: A great view of Comerica Park during batting practice
Detroit synagogue
Detroit synagogue
Detroit s Fox Theatre
Detroit's Fox Theatre
Milwaukee Junction
Milwaukee Junction
What is to be done with this home? Most likely nothing...
What is to be done with this home? Most likely nothing...
The abandoned Boblo Dock Building in Detroit
The abandoned Boblo Dock Building in Detroit
The Ambassador Bridge
The Ambassador Bridge
The abandoned Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit
The abandoned Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit
The abandoned Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit
The abandoned Fisher Body 21 building in Detroit
An old  brick street in Woodbridge
An old, brick street in Woodbridge
Detroit: A man rides his bicycle in Woodbridge
Detroit: A man rides his bicycle in Woodbridge
Writing on a sidewalk outside of Milwaukee Junction s Fisher Body 21
Writing on a sidewalk outside of Milwaukee Junction's Fisher Body 21
A Detroiter walks by an apartment building early in the morning
A Detroiter walks by an apartment building early in the morning
The abandoned Mae C. Jemison Academy in Detroit  Michigan
The abandoned Mae C. Jemison Academy in Detroit, Michigan
The abandoned Michigan Central Station train depot
The abandoned Michigan Central Station train depot
The People Mover
The People Mover
Digital Journalist Matt Harding atop the abandoned Boblo Dock Building in Detroit
Digital Journalist Matt Harding atop the abandoned Boblo Dock Building in Detroit