Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit Seeks Bankruptcy, Facing Debts of $18 Billion

"Things are bad here in Detroit. Very bad."

 by: Lou Angeli

DETROIT. MI (July 18, 2013) -- Once the nation's 4th largest city, the broken, and now broke, city of Detroit is asking for bankruptcy protection. How did this happen and what's it mean for Detroit's Bravest? Well a DC-based "emergency manager," Kevyn Orr, has petitioned a federal judge to allow him to take Detroit into the largest bankruptcy in American history. The media paints Orr as the man who views taking away pensions and health benefits as a broad based right, without any limitations.

According to Teresa Sanderfer, Secretary of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 344, "Things are bad here in Detroit. Very bad." She adds "And things will be getting worse before they get better."

During the past few weeks, Orr has been trying to persuade creditors to accept pennies on the dollar and unions, especially IAFF 344, to accept cuts in benefits. But talks have broken down and Orr has decided to take the city into bankruptcy.

In a New York Times report, Mr. Orr has said that as part of any restructuring he wants to spend about $1.25 billion on improving city infrastructure and services. But a major concern for Detroit residents remains the possibility that services, already severely lacking, might be further diminished in bankruptcy. 

What does Bankruptcy mean to Firefighters?

In a letter to members of IAFF Local 344, Sanderfer asks firefighters to remain solid and united.

"Just like we do on each shift, we have each other and each other’s backs." she wrote on the Local 344 Facebook page. "And with only that going for us – because our rigs and our equipment are falling apart around us – we’re surviving truly life threatening situations on the job every day."

City Council President Pro Tem Andre Spivey residents that they needn't worry about the impact of the filing immediately. "City services we provide will not be shut down," Spivey says. But he adds there will be challenges.

The unusual process of bankrupting a huge American city may take from 90 days to one year. Detorit has lost more than half of its population over the last 60 years. In 1950, it was the fifth-largest city in the country with a population of around 1.8 million. Today its population is estimated at just under 700,000.


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