We’ll see you in court.

Sorry for the no-show yesterday. We had to go to Kate’s summer camp one last time, so she could play her final concert with the camp’s international jazz ensemble:


They had a concert Tuesday night at a club in Detroit, then Wednesday at camp, as recruitment for next year’s European travelers. As you can see, it’s your standard big-band setup, and they played a repertoire of classics from the genre. The highlights, for most of the crowd, were the finale – “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which they KILLED – and just before that there was a Dixieland strut:


When Kate was unpacking last week, she pulled a tambourine from her bag. “What’s that for?” I asked. She waved me off — “Oh, this…thing.”

I found out, Tuesday night, what the thing was. As she played an electric instrument, she needed something else for the walkabout. And so, TOTALLY EMBARRASSED TO DEATH, that’s what she played.


She really doesn’t mind being in the back line. Not much of a showboat, this one.

It was almost 10 when we left the sunset coast of Michigan, 1:30 when we pulled in the driveway. So no blog.

Well, the showdown between the Detroit emergency manager and the city’s creditors has come to this: Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, filed late Thursday, the largest ever. As this is, as we say in the trade, a developing story, I’ll keep my mouth shut. However, let’s all keep a good thought for at least one of our commenting community, who is a city employee and probably feels his nearing retirement is on a fast-descending elevator at the moment.

Just to give you a sense of the scale involved, here you go:

A Chapter 9 filing would leave the restructuring to (Detroit emergency manager Kevyn) Orr and a federal bankruptcy judge and could take years, experts say, despite hopes by the governor and Orr that the case can be wrapped up in a year. A bankruptcy judge could trump the state constitution by slashing retiree pensions, ripping up contracts and paying creditors roughly a dime on the dollar for unsecured claims worth $11.45 billion.

Detroit, always blazing a path. Just not the one you always want. This is a good analysis of the stakes — very high.

Any more bloggage before we stumble out of this suffocating week? Just this: Lewis Black, rallying the New York troops against the menace that is Texas.

Heat is supposed to break today. God, let’s hope so.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |

81 responses to “We’ll see you in court.”

  1. Dexter said on July 19, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Don’t Fu( l< with New York! That damn thing went viral last night, at least with my Facebook friends.

    I was a fan of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing 47 years ago when he played for the Detroit Pistons, and I now wonder what his legacy will be, even though, of course, this bankruptcy isn't any way his fault.

    Jerry Cavanaugh is spinning in his grave for sure.

    Kate is playing in an international Jazz ensemble, that is just so great! I'm not really a Jazz scholar, just a longtime fan and record collector, and YouTube has been wonderful for a quick-fix for a jonesin' Jazz freak. Bravo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwqovpqbobs

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  2. Suzanne said on July 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Lewis Black link is a dud.

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    • nancy said on July 19, 2013 at 8:35 am


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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 19, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I said this late yesterday, and I’ll repost having heard it again this morning: NPR, BBC, & MSNBC all with variations on the line “everyone has left Detroit” along with muttered notations that there are 750,000 residents still of the city. The problem, all too obviously, is that a city of three million now has a fraction of its former population, with an infrastructure that presumes either the former numbers will return, or that somehow the current population will keep most of the tax bills spinning in the air (or “na-na-na I can’t hear you” on the part of political leadership).

    But there’s still quite a bit of city there, and no small tax base. West Virginia has a plethora of cities with 50% & less of their 1950 population, and they’ve figured out how to re-trench without totally throwing pensioners under the bus. I get it that the net pension load is unsustainable under the current population, and this was known and answerable twenty years ago, with many opportunities to resolve the situation with minimal pain now small and distant in the rear-view mirror, but this is simply not as unprecedented as it’s being made out, although the scale is daunting.

    The real just-beneath-the-surface angst in national & even international coverage are the number of unfunded pensions around the country and the globe which are dependent on ever increasing inputs to payments from shrinking workforces and taxpayer bases, and how we can execute this pivot to a more solid payout basis on a regional & international scale. It’s as if (I suspect) there’s much that intelligent media figures know they could and should say, and they’re hesitant to come right out and talk about . . . NYC pensions, Greek pensions, teachers’ pensions in Illinois & California, military pensions in Russia, and so on.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 19, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Nancy, what is the metro area now? I can’t find a solid number with general searches. It would appear to be about 3.7 million? This is where a regional approach comes into play, but the racial politics have created counter-denial to toxically balance the union & political gormlessness within the city on pay & benefits . . . ultimately, everyone in the region is affected, and there’s a cost *already* being borne to let Detroit the city suffer — and the region & state would benefit from contributing under closely defined terms. But the sense to date has been “those people” in the city (code for racism, intermingled with more straightforward political opposition between urban Dems and statewide GOPers) have made this mess, and don’t take our tax dollars from one inch outside the city to pay any bills within. Stalemate.

    Will Gov. Rick and Kevin Orr find a formula that puts the state & region in the picture? I think there’s a conservative way to say there should be, but it can’t just be “state funds will deliver all promises made by past administrations without exception.” Anything less, though, and Dems will call any amount of state contribution less than that as “GOP blaming elderly and ill.” The politics will be as tricky as the litigation.

    But the fact that, as we keep saying “Detroit is empty” is that relatively speaking, the metro area is the same total population. That’s not *simply* racism, but it’s part of how you get to where Detroit is so starkly, and where so many Northern urban areas are, and the tax bill/benefits jam that is common to those situations.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 19, 2013 at 8:32 am

    If I trust Wikipedia for Detroit metro area:

    1950 3,016,197
    1960 3,762,360 24.7%
    1970 4,307,470 14.5%
    1980 4,353,365 1.1%
    1990 4,382,299 0.7%
    2000 4,452,557 1.6%
    2010 4,296,250 −3.5%
    Est. 2012 4,292,060

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  6. Prospero said on July 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Lewis Black os loonier than I am. I trust Jeff with all of my money, And there is a lot. I;d invesr in Detroit’smfuture if somebody I’ve never met chose to Yeah right.

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  7. nancy said on July 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Jeff, all that you say is true. It would be wonderful if we could blaze some sort of path forward that took into consideration all of that — regional cooperation, state aid, whatever — but these solutions have been discussed literally for years, and hardly anything changes. Suburbanites think of the city as some toxic swamp they were lucky to escape with their lives, and the same facile bullshit is repeated over and over. Racism killed Detroit. No, liberals killed Detroit. No, globalization killed Detroit. And so on.

    It was a unique city in its day, because its working/middle class was just so enormous. Most of the neighborhoods in its sprawling footprint are modest workingman’s bungalows and ranches; even if you could find a reservoir of light sweet crude or whatever under the topsoil, the returning people wouldn’t want to livein them. It’s just outdated.

    The first time I heard the Detroit Works solution — in a nutshell, consolidate population in the neighborhoods that still work, bulldoze the rest and have a collection of urban villages with wide swaths of green/park/farm space in between — it sounded insane. But I’ve come to believe it’s the only model that really would work with the resources we have.

    Youngstown and Cleveland are the closest equivalents in the Buckeye state. How’re they doing?

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  8. beb said on July 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Detroit’s underfunded pensions happened because cutting contributions to the pension funds was always one of the easiest ways to cut the budget. Which is why underfunded pensions is one of the biggest problems the nation has going into the future. But Detroit didn’t go into bankruptcy because of its underfunded pension plans. It has a lot of other debts which it was never going to get out from under.

    Detroit has lost two-thirds of its population since its hay-days in the 50s. But the city hasn’t grown smaller, so the police and fire departments can’t grown smaller, they have to service the entire city. The people left in Detroit are, to a larger extent than in other cities, the retired, disabled, permanently unemployed, the temporarily unemployed and people working in low-end jobs. People with any kind of good jobs tend to leave the city – because their jobs aren’t in the city or because there’s too much crime. Detroit has long since passed the days of “White-flight” we’re in the days of “black-flight.”

    Detroit used to get a bundle of money from the state “for cities over one million in population.” That ended in 2000 when the census put Detroit’s population at 950,000 – no longer a million plus. Then, when Republicans took control of the state legislature they cut state support of all cities even further. Detroit is the state’s largest bankruptcy but just about all the big cities in the state are hurting but the state won’t help because urban areas tend to vote Democratic. The state could have avoided this bankruptcy if it had given the Emergency manager more time to work with the city to streamline departments, invest in needed technological improvements, and underwritten some of the city’s expenses but the governor seems more interested in cauterizing the wound that is Detroit than treating it.

    Despite being called The Motor City there is little auto manufacturing still in Detroit, or manufacturing of any sort.

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  9. mark said on July 19, 2013 at 8:53 am


    So just get all of those who aren’t in Detroit to pretend they are in Detroit and start paying Detroit’s bills? Hey Grosse Pointers, dig deep and do your part for the greater metro area?

    The last thing you want to do upon taking the City into bankruptcy is start talking about who might voluntarily donate to pay the creditors. First you screw the vultures who gambled on Detroit in return for high interest rates on their loans. Let the junk bond funds take their hit before talking about passing the hat around Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.

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  10. nancy said on July 19, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Beb, one reason the filing came when it did is because the pension boards were preparing a lawsuit that would have included an injunction against Chapter 9. Yeah, it would have been nice if Orr had more time to streamline, etc., but when lawyers get involved, it’s the old line about what suffers when elephants fight.

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  11. beb said on July 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Jeff, note that Wikipedia is giving you numbers of Detroit metro area which covers at least three counties. The CITY of Detroit peaked at 2 million in the 50s and has been declining since.

    I had the same reaction to the “Detroit Works” proposal that Nancy did, that it was crazy, but it starts to make sense.

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  12. Dorothy said on July 19, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Am I the only commenter here who has “Sing, Sing, Sing” on her iPod? Love Kate’s smile in this picture.

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  13. nancy said on July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I’ve done some reporting in the last year about pension problems (not a lot; I’m no expert, but I probably know more than 8 out of 10 people on the street), and one thing I’ve learned is that pensions really aren’t the problem in most of these cases. Pensions are simply actuarial science. People may live longer, but they don’t live forever. As long as enough is being set aside and it’s not 2008-10, pensions can be managed.

    Retiree health care is the cement overshoes of employee benefits. Repeating: Retiree health care is the problem.

    One of the most touching stories I’ve heard since I moved here was in conversation with a guy I know in GP — the white-collar, college-educated son of a union bricklayer. There are probably hundreds of thousands like him in this area. He told me about when his father died. He brought his mother home from the hospital, and she said, “Oh, we have to call the union.” She insisted. So he called the union. It was in a building about a mile away. Whoever answered the phone expressed his condolences, and then started clicking the keys, laying out the death benefit, the survivor benefit, the health care. All in plain English. Took about 15 minutes. The last question was where the funeral would be, so they could send flowers.

    He contrasts that with his experience working with one of the major auto companies, where every question on every hangnail removal requires a call to south Asia and/or a fight with someone in a bureaucracy somewhere.

    You can argue the former model is unsustainable, and maybe it was. But it sure seemed a lot more humane.

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  14. adrianne said on July 19, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Agree with Nance on retirees’ health care. In New York, that’s the big threat to municipal bottom lines, not the pensions.

    That Lewis Black rejoinder to Rick Perry: “Don’t mess with Texas? Don’t f*** with New York!” made my day. Quickly shared with numerous people.

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  15. Joe K said on July 19, 2013 at 9:59 am

    They grow up fast don’t they Nancy,
    Both my girls played In jazz bands help to keep them out of trouble.
    Sing, sing, sing, is a favorite, love hearing it on xm while I fly, hot in 1939 still hot sounding now, no wonder the puritans thought jazz was the work of the devil.
    Pilot Joe

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  16. Bob (not Greene) said on July 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I have “Sing, Sing Sing” on my iPod, but when it comes on I usually skip it. I always thought it was kind of overblown. For my money, all of the energy and excitement of that mid-1930s Goodman band is encapsulated in this 1 minute, 57 second bit of swinging awesomeness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKTWpuq_-uY

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  17. Deggjr said on July 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

    The Louis Black routine is great. This fantastic Slacktivist blog post is exactly the same message (to more states) expressed on a different intellectual level: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2010/07/30/if-you-can-make-it-there-2/

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  18. Julie Robinson said on July 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

    It’s not on my iPod, but I love Sing, Sing, Sing too. It was a huge hit at our son’s most recent concert.

    The national media seem to have already digested the solution in Detroit as paying retirees 10% of what they’re owed, so I appreciate reading more nuanced opinions here. The Detroit Works idea is intriguing, and I think it would attract the urban hipster cohort, who want to live in a city and have their chickens and beehives, and raise organic veggies. They view the suburbs as soul-sucking and sterile. Most importantly, they have lots of energy, enthusiasm, and optimism, all of which are going to be essential.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on July 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Oh, and one more thing about pension benefits. My mom is a retired librarian in Illinois and has a generous pension, but she lost her health benefits even though it was part of the contracted pension. She’s doing okay and can afford it, but some of her fellow librarians are really hurting, especially those who took early retirement. As she understands it, she can’t have her pension cut despite Illinois’ woes, but I’m wondering about that now.

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  20. coozledad said on July 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Smells like theft:
    Of course, it couldn’t happen without a little bit of extra comic-opera retiree-screwing shenanigans first. The Detroit Free Press reports that attorneys for City of Detroit pensioners and pension funds were on the verge of getting a judge in Lansing to issue a temporary restraining order that would have delayed a bankruptcy, but attorneys for Gov. Snyder asked the group’s attorney to delay the hearing for five minutes. During the delay, the state filed the federal bankruptcy case in Detroit. Haha, silly lawyer, you should know better than to let Rick Snyder hold the football!
    Read more at http://wonkette.com/523119/motor-city-has-car-jackson-five-records-repossessed#IoUkiPeJ2CQmOt2D.99

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  21. nancy said on July 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

    The city is NOT paying pensioners 10% of what they’re owed, they’re paying 100% — for now. The dime-on-a-dollar detail comes from Kevyn Orr’s original offer to unsecured bondholders, not pensions.

    That said, pensioners will certainly take a haircut. Orr has said that he wants to move retiree health care to the Obamacare exchanges when they come on line. See remarks above regarding retiree health care. It is the millstone for public entities.

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  22. velvet goldmine said on July 19, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I was surprised to learn recently that “Sing, Sing, Sing” was written than none other than Louis Prima. It was intended as a vocal piece — kind of an obvious in retrospect given the title. The lyrics are pretty forgettable (“Now you’re singing with a swing…”) and any of the pre-Goodman vocal versions, including Prima’s, just don’t have any of the mystique of the Benny Goodman arrangement. Those performed with vocals after Goodman gave the song its depth are better — Keely Smith’s version, for example.

    As for Lewis Black, I’m obviously the wrong audience, not being from either state. But the bit seems kind of leaden and pointlessly mean-spirited. Maybe he should have left it at “eff you Rick Perry.”

    And given that his homage to NYC seemed to hang on all the hunks of cooked meat you can get at 3 a.m., he might want to not piss off what is likely a big piece of that supply chain.

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  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

    When I say “pensions” I’m thinking of it, probably unhelpfully, as pension checks plus retiree health care. So I take your point and will keep them in mind as two things. Whoever said “Jeff, you’re telling the rest of the state that . . .” is missing my reason for talking specifically about the regional population, which — while using the same multi-county area both IN and AROUND the urban core — has actually grown, and only very recently slowed to a level number. I think one could make, again, a very conservative case for saying that the region, however defined, rises, rose in fact, and is falling or will inevitably fall with the fate of the urban core as a whole, so yes, the Grosses etc. would end up participating in solutions. I think Nancy’s observed the inevitability of that link on a number of occasions. And I believe Beb observes, there’s the simple geography of Northern cities, which keeps Point A the same distance from Point B no matter how many taxpayers live in between.

    As for “Detroit Works” and some forced/eminent domain based retrenchment, that’s the only way you reconfigure public services to a sustainable level, too. If your 700K population is oddly and unevenly spread out across where once you had 2 million, somehow you need to get the coming 500K (a likely set point for 21st century Detroit) closer together, and more servable in arrangement.

    Youngstown & Cleveland have pending crises not dissimilar to Detroit’s, but the sheer geographic sprawl isn’t as wide, so you don’t have the same now legendary 58 minute average response time, and so on.

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  24. Sherri said on July 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Health care is the problem for everybody, not just retirees of public entities. Like Nancy said, pensions are predictable for the most part; it’s health care costs that have gone up way too fast.

    Remember that next time Pete Peterson and his minions try to tell you Social Security is a problem: it’s really not, and what problems it does have are easily fixable without screwing the poor and the middle class.

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  25. alex said on July 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    When taking classes at a local college campus years ago, I remember in particular a nontraditional student — in short, a crazy lady — who used to raise her hand in class constantly to pitch hissies about anything under discussion that didn’t jibe with her arcane and quite primitive world view. “You’re promoting communism and atheism on my tax dollar and I won’t stand for it,” blah blah blah. I thought the profs were generally much more polite to her than she deserved, although I remember one literature prof who responded that he was there to educate people, not to indulge them in their superstitions and ignorance, and if that’s what she was wanting then she was attending the wrong school.

    I thought of her when first reading about Mitch Daniels’ apparent disdain for academic freedom. But as this incisive editorial points out, it’s all in furtherance of his agenda to privatize free public education, the most radical of its sort in the nation.

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  26. Charlotte said on July 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Perhaps this is a dumb question — but why are we paying separate health care for retirees instead of Medicare? I know Medicare gets demonized, but in the 6 or 7 years I was managing my mother’s affairs, she was on it the whole time, and never had any problems. In fact, the whole mess started with a massive head injury, for which Medicare (and Part B) paid for everything — the 5 days in ICU, the rehab hospital, the whole shebang. She subsequently had no issues with mental health providers, or more surgery for cancer, or anything. She goes to a lot of doctors and has *never* had an issue being turned away. This was in Chicago, Milwaukee and Kentucky — my experience with it has been better than most private health insurance. I’d buy in now if they’d let me —

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  27. Mindy said on July 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve got “Sing, Sing, Sing” on my iPod as well as part of the “Swing Kids” soundtrack. Genuine shoe-swingin’ music for sure. Here’s Batman and Dr. Wilson to show us how it’s done.
    Great soundtrack. Ella Fitzgerald is on it as well with “Goodnight, My Love.” Think Tony carrying Uncle Junior after he falls in the shower.

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  28. mark said on July 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    “a very conservative case for saying that the region, however defined, rises, rose in fact, and is falling or will inevitably fall with the fate of the urban core as a whole”

    But jeff, as you point out, for the last 50 years the urban core shrank considerably while the “region” grew. Either the correlation you propose doesn’t necessarily exist or “inevitably” takes longer than 50 years to arrive, Why not define “the region” as the Midwest, sing some songs about we’re all in this together, and cut some dollars out of the programs you work with in Ohio to pay Detroit’s bills? Won’t all of your efforts inevitably fail if we can’t save Detroit, Chicago, Gary, etc?

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  29. David C. said on July 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Private pensions are seen as a plumb for the picking by a lot of shady companies. I have two from previous jobs that I’m going to start taking next year when I turn 55. I just don’t trust that they will be there when I turn 65. So I’ll take them, even at a lower amount and save them. At least I’ll get something.

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  30. Jeff said on July 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Mark, I’m thinking of contiguous areas, and aren’t you saying what I said? The collar counties grew as the core shrank, but the core holds many social and civic assets the exurbs are defined from. It’s a pretty direct relationship.

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  31. David C. said on July 19, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    For all the talk of subsidies for cities, it’s rural areas that are subsidized to the hilt. If state funds were distributed per capita, it would be small towns and rural counties going down the tubes.

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  32. coozledad said on July 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    It’s not just pensions they’re going after. In NC, the General assembly is exercising eminent domain to revoke the charters of municipal airports, and privatizing municipal water systems to hand them over to companies who elevate water rates by a factor of ten to eleven.

    Even in suburban areas the state(under the Republican legislature and governor) will test your well, condemn it, and make you purchase water from one of their approved licensees.

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  33. Deborah said on July 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    David C, I’m with you on taking your pension at an earlier age, even if it means taking a lesser amount. I had profit sharing and whatever they call the other thing, as soon as I retired I took it out and reinvested it in something I have a lot more faith in.

    Jeff, I agree with the premise that collar burbs have a direct relationship with cities and use many social and civic assets.

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  34. coozledad said on July 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm


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  35. coozledad said on July 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    commenter NC Steve at TPM has an interesting take on this, but as he says, it’s not his area of legal expertise:
    Under the Constitution, bankruptcy is exclusively a federal matter. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed, for example, all litigation in state courts against the bankrupt party is automatically stayed and no state court litigation can proceed unless the bankruptcy court approves it. Theoretically, the state court lacked jurisdiction to entertain any action against the special dictator because of the automatic stay. But the matter the state court ruled upon affected the authority of the dictator to file the petition under the state constitution. It’s a legal chicken and egg problem (albeit one that may have an answer that’s obvious to people who actually know bankruptcy law, which is very not may area).

    And just to further add to the stew, the federal government is also deeply involved in pensions and benefit. ERISA created exclusive federal jurisdiction over employee benefit plans (though I vaguely recall that that’s only private plans) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal entity, is responsible for picking up pension liabilities after they get trashed by bankruptcy.

    This is all highly specialized stuff and I don’t practice in any of those areas–and in fact try to stay as far from them as possible–but to me it looks like quite a jurisdictional train wreck is coming.

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  36. BigHank53 said on July 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Mark @ 28: the people in Detroit are American, just like the victims of Sandy and Katrina and yearly crop of tornados in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Detroit isn’t going to be the last metro area that undergoes massive restructuring and change. It’s in our interest–all our interests–to see that it happens with the minimum amount of pain for the citizens and the maximum amount of inconvenience for the vultures who want the tasty bits of the carcass.

    Because we’ll pay for it one way or another. It’s a rare person on public assistance that can suck more than $10,000/year out of the system. Putting someone in prison can easily be four or five times that.

    Coozledad @ 32: Even I figured they’d hold off on the outright kleptocracy for another few years. No matter how cynical you get, it’s hard to keep up.

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  37. mark said on July 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    jeff- No, you said the region “is falling or will inevitably fall with the fate of the urban core as a whole.” For fifty years, the opposite has happened. Yes, the relationship appears to be direct, but opposite of what you are predicting. Detroit has been declining for decades. How much more of an empty hole does it have to become before your predicted failure of the ex-urbs occurs?

    Rather than tempting voracious creditors to fight discharge and scratch for every penny with pie-in-the sky schemes to have somebody else pay the bills, let Detroit shed the debt and start with something approaching a clean slate. What is needed is a Detroit without crushing debt, not a Detroit with regional taxing authority.

    You do realize the debt is in the billions? 10 or more excluding employee obligations. The annual interest payment is a significant portion of what Fort Wayne (one third the population) pays for all it’s annual costs. Even if you made everybody in the Pointes sell every boat, send every kid to public college and vacation in Greek Town, and threw all the savings at the bondholders, you would succeed in doing nothing more than lowering the debt load from inconceivably, ridiculously, absurdly unsustainable to merely ridiculously, absurdly unsustainable.

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  38. Jeff said on July 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Mark, no restructuring is an all at once liquidation. And you’re mixing population stats (showing that the metro region has just shifted population, not really grown OR shrunk much) with the net economy, which has stagnated. Ask Nancy what her neighborhood costs today vs 1950. In adjusted dollars, you could buy her block now for what a home would have gone for back then.

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  39. Jeff said on July 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    And who said regional taxing authority? I already defended the state of Michigan from having to float the city’s unkeepable promises, but a solution now, with haircuts all around, reasonably would have some wider participation.

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  40. coozledad said on July 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    BigHank53: The shrinking Republican demographic has them panic thieving everything that isn’t nailed down. They know they’re not going to win any more elections without skewing election law. They grokked that the voting restrictions the House passed in NC weren’t going to cut the black vote enough, so they revisited it in the same session with the senate to try and cut it some more.

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  41. Basset said on July 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Meanwhile, another reason to love my former line of work:


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  42. Basset said on July 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Make that two:


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  43. Brandon said on July 20, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Remember the discussion held here several months ago about The New York Times article about The Canyons? The movie has made the new cover of Film Comment.


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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 20, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Grimly interesting – http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/detroit-gap-reveals-industry-dispute-on-pension-math/

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 20, 2013 at 8:27 am

    And apparently my former seminary is starting to sell of their collection of valuable modernist art to help cover current shortfalls, not boding well for places like the DIA in the midst of even larger deficits and more pressing needs than maintaining a theatre program in a theological seminary (and mind you, I loved that theatre program, and it’s part of why I went there, even though I only appeared in two plays during my years at CTS). http://artdaily.com/news/63721/Largest-work-ever-sold-at-auction-by-British-artist-Ben-Nicholson-sells-for–pound-1-08-million

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  46. Joe K said on July 20, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Flew up from Cinncinati to Detroit last night landed @dtw about 3am.
    Wow what a light show Mother Nature put on, could start seeing the lightning while I was over Dayton lighting up the whole sky, must have been what it looked like rolling in to Hanoi at night. Don’t know how those f-4 phantom pilots and the f-105 thud drivers sat down carrying around those big brass ones.
    Pilot Joe

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  47. coozledad said on July 20, 2013 at 9:06 am


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  48. coozledad said on July 20, 2013 at 9:14 am


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  49. alex said on July 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Looks like Detroit’s bankruptcy may not be a done deal after all: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/19/detroit-bankruptcy-unconstitutional/2569481/

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  50. coozledad said on July 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

    alex: the Republicans keep hiring their attorneys out of Regents. The only thing they really learn there is how to keep it on the down low and how to tell if that gift Rolex is gen-yew-wine.

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  51. beb said on July 20, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Adding insult to injury, we’re experiencing a brownout probably due to last night’s story. A/C for me.

    As for the Judge’s that the bankruptcy filing was improper, that’s a state judging going up against the governor and a federal court filing. I can see it going all the way to the Federal Supreme Court years from now.

    Meanwhile, Orr, the emergency manager has declared that nothing will happen to worker’s pensions for the next six month, which is good new for anyone planning to die before New Year Eve. For the rest of the living, not so reassuring.

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  52. Prospero said on July 20, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Nancy’s kid is a babe. So is mine, but significantly older. Joe, it is always good news to hear of a tires down arrival.

    With regard to bankruptcy in the motor city, Where do the so-called defenders of self=rule as God’s greatest creation get off on this shit? Or is this one of them “them blappeople” momentss?

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  53. coozledad said on July 20, 2013 at 10:56 am

    The abiding subhumanity of North Carolina Republicans shines in the aftermath of the President’s speech.
    “It is a deep exploitation of events to further gun control,” Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, said of Friday’s remarks. “They will stoop to any depth to make this happen. Even a race relations argument should be irrelevant to this case.”

    Gun fetishists, racists, hatemongers. Not a one of them worth his weight in breathable air.

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  54. Prospero said on July 20, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Simple gun control question: Should George Zimmerman be packing? Shoud Law enforcemant be giving this sorry, brain dead shitheel murderer back his gun?

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  55. Prospero said on July 20, 2013 at 11:21 am

    PAcking a big gun, this mofo was in fear for his life because a skinny teenager was wearing a hoodie? Sorry ass country run by sorry ass racists, and it’s the President’s fault, because Obama. Would the real Martians please stand up. http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/07/17/2315381/bruce-springsteen-dedicates-american-skin-41-shots-to-the-us-for-justice-for-trayvon-martin/

    No matter how youlook at it, this was homicide by a nutcase with a gun and no business with it.

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  56. Sherri said on July 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), on the pension article, if there’s really been an argument for years over the theoretical way to manage pensions, then there should be data to actually compare the two methods by now. It’s either a failing of the economic/actuarial community to validate and replicate their models (a basic tenet of science), or a failure of the journalist here to understand enough math and science to ask the right questions. I can’t tell which is going on from the article.

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  57. Suzanne said on July 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Something to chew on: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20091011/EDIT05/310119940

    Our man Mitch

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  58. Dexter said on July 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Helen Thomas, a journo-icon forever, has passed away, thrown under the bus for criticizing Israel a while back, she will shine on as a beacon of truth for many of us. She was somethin’!

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  59. ROGirl said on July 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    My power went out last night shortly after the storm started. I’d just gotten back from the store as the skies darkened and the rain started pelting down, got the car in the garage and the door closed, started puttering around in the kitchen and within a minute or 2 of the deluge, the electricity goes out. It came back up at brown out level for a few minutes, then it just died. Throughout the evening I could hear a lot of sirens in the distance.

    It was still out this morning. I called Edison and finally got a message that due to the large number of customers who had lost power in the area, mine wouldn’t be restored until tomorrow night by 11:30 at the latest.

    I went to the store to pick up some batteries. Branches were down in the neighborhood, and on the next cross street there were some downed wires. When I got home my neighbor across the street was unloading and setting up a generator. He asked me if I had one, and I said no. He asked me if I have someplace I can stay and I said no. He looked at me. I interpreted the look to mean that if I were lying on my front lawn bleeding he wouldn’t call the police. I went back into my house.

    I have internet service now, and the electricity came back at brownout level but keeps on going out. My battery is getting low.

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  60. MichaelG said on July 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Sounds rough, ROGirl. Nice neighbor. Where do you live?

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  61. Suzanne said on July 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Oh wow. I just finally watched that Lewis Black clip. Fan.tas.tic.

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  62. Brandon said on July 20, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    I’ve never been to Michigan, but isn’t Hamtramck Detroit’s answer to Williamsburg?


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  63. Connie said on July 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    The comments at the link Brandon posted are pretty awful.

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  64. Brandon said on July 20, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    If they elect this character, the people of Hamtramck deserve what they get. But I doubt it, if the town’s reputation as Michigan’s hipster capital holds true.

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  65. Dexter said on July 21, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Brandon…BillyBurg compared to Hamtramck? I cannot imagine two more opposite places! Billyburg is the most hipster-concentrated area I know of, and Hamtramck , now so much different than the place was in the 1950s, ’60s and 70s, is just another close-in neighbor of hard-core Dee-Troit.

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  66. Brandon said on July 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

    @Dexter: I’m basing it on this book I read ten years ago:


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  67. coozledad said on July 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Vanity, thy name is woman old media whore:

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  68. ROGirl said on July 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    The power went back out yesterday after the brief brownout tease. At least it cooled off last night (it was steamy and hot up until then). It finally came back for real about 15 minutes ago. I was dozing on the sofa, having fallen asleep while reading (not much else to do when the power is out), and suddenly I heard the dehumidifier in the basement and the refrigerator cranking up. I put a load of laundry in the washer.

    Yesterday I started clearing out some old files, trashing articles I had saved over 10 years ago, and starting a bag of old bills and bank statements to take to the recycling center where they have an industrial shredder. I also filled a bag with clothes to take to a non-profit resale store.

    Apparently over 100,000 people lost power in the area (SE Lower Michigan) on Friday night.

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  69. alex said on July 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Cooz, it’s a wonder he didn’t bust open the vault to the family jewels. Or maybe this is just a teaser for another ignominious fiasco in the making.

    Lovely weekend here. I don’t think the flowers have ever been so spectacular in all the years I’ve lived on this property. My brother and his brood are here from Atlanta and are outside fishing as I write this. Tonight my mom’s making paella. With any luck the kids will turn up their noses at it and leave seconds, thirds and even fourths for the rest of us.

    Today found my favorite old camera — a Canon Power Shot SD100 Digital Elph — for sale on e-Bay for forty bucks, so I went for it. Mine got fried a long time ago and nothing I’ve purchased since has matched it for the quality of the pictures. I guess the newer ones that boast more megapixels have too small of a processor, which results in washed-out colors. That little old camera always got it exactly right. I am so looking forward to having another.

    Also spent yesterday installing a new water softener. Hallelujah! I didn’t know it was possible to have water pressure so strong or water so free of rust, sediment and odor. For as long as I’ve lived here, I used the same Culligan service as the former owners. Culligan would come out every two weeks and swap out a filtration cartridge in my well pit. Lately I was getting so irritated with the poor water quality that I decided to tell them to go screw. Wish I’d done it years ago.

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  70. coozledad said on July 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    alex: I think he looks like a firewood wallah from the burning ghats at Benares.

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  71. Brandon said on July 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I think he looks like a firewood wallah from the burning ghats at Benares.–coozledad

    Superficially, perhaps. But a firewood wallah wouldn’t wear red-tinted glasses. And he would carry himself with far more dignity than Geraldo ever has.

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  72. coozledad said on July 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    brandon: I always thought it would be great to finish things up in Vanarasi, so it’s a comfort to imagine Geraldo won’t be there to scrimp on the fuel.

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  73. brian stouder said on July 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Oddest thing I’ve read today; even stranger than Geraldo’s towel-shot


    Kenneth Enslow, 52, was arrested Sunday after a woman called police. She had taken her 7-year-old daughter to the bathroom and noticed a man looking up at her from inside the toilet, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark said.
    “He went in there, climbed down in the septic and was looking up at the people utilizing that facility,” Clark said.

    This guy sounds like a potential Republican congressional candidate. His slogan could be “He’ll go through hell and highwater until things begin looking up” – or something

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  74. Deborah said on July 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Brian, that story about the guy in the toilet is bizarre. Sick.

    I’m back in Chicago for a bit and compared to NM, it’s soooo muggy. Not as hot as it has been but still really humid.

    I’m looking forward to looking into a lot of sales I saw signs for when we drove up Michigan Ave on our way home. The family reunion was sorta fun, as those things go, it was my husband’s family so I’m not as familiar with everyone. I will be going to a family reunion for my side in October, just Little Bird and I are going to that one.

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  75. brian stouder said on July 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Deborah, at the family reunions I’ve been to (Pam’s family; my extended peeps just don’t do the reunion thing) the funny part is the intel/politics surrounding the food, as in “Don’t eat the three-bean salad, Aunt Millie brought it and you’ll get ptomaine!” – etc)

    Very short San Diego recap:

    LOVED the:

    weather (cool, breezy, not humid; the opposite of Indiana right about now!)

    beauty (beautiful ravines and plant life; beautiful vistas, beaches, bridges, ships, city skyline)

    food (took LA Mary’s advice and stayed local as much as possible; MXN is the BEST Mexican/southwestern cuisine, period. Ate at two different MXN restaurants [they have eight in their chain] and was socks-knocked-off impressed by both. One local downtown eatery/bar called Dirty Dell’s was superb, too)

    ambiance (ComicsCon added to this, no doubt; and the dufus mayor – who appears to be on a steep grab-ass decline, provided comic-relief. Downtown San Diego, especially at the waterfront at night, is flat-out beautiful)

    friendliness/ease of access (we had no trouble with the express-ways and finding where we wanted to go; chiefly including the Naval hospital, San Diego Zoo/Balboa park complexx of museums, Coronado Beach/hotel, and the USS Midway)

    Was taken aback by:

    The numbers of homeless (and seemingly homless) people, always just at the edge of everything. Our hotel, a Wyndham, was not downtown but nearer to the airport, and if you walked to the bakery on the corner (as I did) you’d brush past a dozen or more people living out of a shopping cart. Then I noticed our hotel complex (probably 5 or 6 buildings sharing a parking lot) always had uniformed private security on foot, and visible. This kept the folks off the parking lot, anyway. And most restaurants we stopped in had signs up saying there was a 30 minute limit for patrons; presumably to facilitate moving folks along who would otherwise spend the day there)

    The pronounced presence of the sex industry on display. Not prostitution (openly displayed), mind you, but all the old fashioned stuff like nudey bars and gentlemen’s clubs and books/magazine/dvd shops. ‘Course, it’s a Navy town, so I guess that makes sense…but a lot of it seemed so “twenty-five years ago”, really.

    just how hilley San Diego really is. Forget the movie Bullet and Steve McQueen’s big chase scene; there are streets in San Diego where you stop at a red light and the street ahead of you is completely gone from sight, ’til you proceed (carrrrrefuly!) and your car pitches nose down and then you only see about 20 feet of street in front of you and nothing more!

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  76. LAMary said on July 21, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    San Diego and LA have a lot of homeless people. The climate makes it a little easier living outdoors, I guess. When I first moved here from NYC, I saw a homeless guy I used to see in NYC. He managed to get himself cross country somehow, to a more hospitable winter location.

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  77. Dexter said on July 22, 2013 at 12:30 am

    LAMary…same for Florida…last week we saw a young man w/giant backpack stepping into a wooded area near Gulf Shores…my daughter said “does he LIVE in there?” I said I suppose he does. I used to know a retired business owner who had a Florida home south of Naples on Marco Island. He said the area was inhabited not only by rich folks but also “Weed People”. They lay low in the weeds…actually lived there.

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  78. Deborah said on July 22, 2013 at 2:53 am

    I thought the Steve McQueen movie Bullet was filmed in San Francisco?

    There are a lot of homeless in Santa Fe too, for such a little place. And Chicago sure has its share, even though the weather isn’t conducive to it.

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  79. brian stouder said on July 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Deborah, indeed! My (poorly expressed) point was to say that Bullitt impressed me with how hilly San Francisco is, but that San Diego gives up nothing to SF when it comes to steep urban hills.

    Come to think of it, Mary has indicated she lives on a fairly steep hill in Los Angeles, and I can now picture just how that might be (where all the cars park with their wheels fully turned in toward the curb)

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  80. LAMary said on July 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I tell people that my kids learned to catch a ball early in their lives because if you miss catching it in our neighborhood, it’s a half mile away before it stops rolling.

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