Detroit is a city being looted and stripped bare. If we decide that those who are weak and vulnerable will be sacrificed to protect the wealthy and the powerful, then no one is safe.
Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend. But the failure that crowds out the rest, no doubt at least partially due to its ubiquity and ordinariness, is the persistent non-functionality of those streetlights.
Progressives were understandably upset about Detroit's bankruptcy. It was muscled by right-wing Gov. Snyder and even the lesser cuts to pensioners are hurtful. There's the obvious ongoing damage to existing wages and benefits for city workers. But the cold reality is that these outcomes were inevitable given Detroit's catastrophic economic mess, and catastrophic political leadership.
Judge Steven Rhodes's recent ruling in Detroit led many to believe that it's open season on worker pensions. The national media declared local governments had new legal precedent to start cutting benefits for thousands of public employees. This is exactly the wrong lesson to take away from Detroit.
When a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that municipal pensions are vulnerable under federal bankruptcy law, no one was surprised. Little about life in 21st-century America prepares anyone to expect a judge to stand up for public pensions.
We can hear the 'wolves on Wall Street' howling at rising profits and executive salaries -- while the sucking sound you hear are jobs and families flung into poverty. 2014 will require a vigilant vote and voice to make a real difference for a very real problem.
A deal still has to be made to rescue the city and all stakeholders should have some say if the end result is to sustain a vibrant and viable city.
Why would the Department of Public Works consider removing a traffic light in an area so close to highest concentration of jobs and workers? It's not rocket science. This intersection no longer endures the volume of traffic to justify a stoplight.
The latest maneuver in the ongoing City of Detroit bankruptcy is the plan put forth by Court-appointed mediator Judge Gerald Rosen under which donors would put up $500 million to "rescue" the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The story needs to be a whole one, one not just of bankruptcy, but of hope, revitalization, and inspiration. Detroit is as multidimensional as we Detroiters are, and to pigeonhole the City of Detroit as a bankrupt municipality is wrong, disrespectful, and lazy.
Detroit has become the victim of the worst aspects of predatory post-industrial forces of capitalism ranged against this city, and against American workers overall. These are the forces of deindustrialization, globalization, failed government policies, and the legacy of intractable racism.
Pensioners, Wall Street and art lovers. That's a coalition that could get Washington and state capitals to honestly and openly confront looming municipal bankruptcies.
So ruled the judge, paving the way for the largest municipal bankruptcy in our nation's history. Detroit's liabilities are estimated at $18 billion with a 'b.' The next largest city bankruptcy was San Bernardino, CA, in 2012 with a debt level of $46 million...with an 'm.'
What's happening in Detroit is about more than retirement and health care coverage. It's about the kind of communities we want to live in -- the kind where we keep our promises to each other, and where we put the interests of working families ahead of big banks and wealthy CEOs.
That's the one good thing you can say about what's going on in Detroit: It will hopefully motivate the politicians, employees and unions everywhere else to face reality and not believe the Tooth Fairy will somehow deposit the cash under their pillows.
The fights between Wisconsin Governor Rick Scott and the public employees are well known, and Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder may be more under-the-radar than his neighbor to the West, but is in many ways cut from the same cloth.