Yesterday, a federal judge has cleared the city to proceed with its bankruptcy filing, which will cheat many out of money owed. In July, the City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy after some time of administrative scrambling and tense financial review.
According to CNN, unions and pension fund holders have cried foul over Judge Steven Rhodes ruling. “Regardless of Detroit’s financial troubles, city and state officials did not negotiate with creditors in good faith in an effort to reach a deal on its liabilities,” said the unions and pension funds. But because the city had over 100,000 creditors, Rhodes said the negotiations were impractical, therefore greenlighting the bankruptcy filing.
In light of Judge Rhodes ruling, union and retiree groups are gearing up to file an appeal against the bankruptcy’s approval. This appeal comes from the impending danger the bankruptcy will have on city workers, retirees, and investors, primarily the pensions of city workers. Currently, Detroit owes about $3.5 billion in pensions with workers only receiving $19,000 annually. The bankruptcy would cause that number to dip drastically.
Sharon Levine, union attorney with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) made a statement regarding the plans to appeal.
“We’re appealing all of the legal issues,” Levine said. “We do believe that Chapter 9 is unconstitutional. We do believe that pensions are constitutionally protected… We don’t believe that the city negotiated in good faith and we don’t believe that you can find impracticability by coming in for 30 days and then running into bankruptcy.”
When city officials first announced the bankruptcy filing, they covered up the real issue of dangerous corporate interests and money mismanagement with talks of pensions. City officials weren’t so overt about the fact that over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money was used to build new sports arenas for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Redwings.
What’s worse, is that government intervention to help Detroit is a completely viable option, but Detroit city officials have sat on their hands in trying to get that help. Granted, there are some similarities between the 2008 bailout and a theoretical one of for Detroit, it’s government money used to bailout those who caused harm. However, there is one glaring difference.
Detroit is not a bank, it’s a city which relies on living, breathing people who work jobs and raise families for prosperity. And as more people and businesses leave Detroit as the years continue, it leaves the city in shambles. But filing bankruptcy and just casting whoever is left into the cold is not the answer. That route is a hasty catch-all that will leave Detroit in worse shape.