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Detroit files for Bankruptcy

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Detroit files for Bankruptcy

Post  Panda on Fri 19 Jul - 8:21

Detroit's Downfall: City Files For BankruptcyOnce at the heart of the US car industry, Detroit becomes the biggest city in American history to file for bankruptcy.5:55am UK, Friday 19 July 2013 Video: The city was once the cradle of the US car industry
Enlarge EmailDetroit, once the hub of America's car industry, has become the biggest city in US history to file for bankruptcy with debts estimated at $18.5bn.

The federal bankruptcy court filing, which has been feared for months, puts the city on an uncertain course and sets the stage for a costly court battle with creditors.

The bankruptcy, if approved by a federal judge, would force Detroit's thousands of creditors into negotiations with the city's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to resolve the debt that has crippled Michigan's largest city.

The future of pensions and health benefits for thousands of city workers hangs in the balance.

Anticipating the filing, investors drove prices of Detroit bonds lower, sending their yields to record highs on Thursday.

In a letter accompanying the filing, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said he had approved a request from Mr Orr to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

In the letter, he wrote: "Detroit simply cannot raise enough revenue to meet its current obligations, and that is a situation that is only projected to get worse absent a bankruptcy filing."

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Snyder, a Republican, said, "Let's stop the decline. Let's get to stability. Let's get things working in the right direction."

Mr Snyder named Mr Orr in March to tackle the city's spiralling long-term debt.


Detroit has declined steadily since its heyday in the early 20th century

A White House spokeswoman said US President Barack Obama and his senior team were monitoring the situation in Detroit closely.

"While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city's creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit's serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said.

Detroit was once a hugely prosperous car manufacturing centre that exemplified American progress.

Its automotive giants switched production to planes, tanks and munitions during World War Two, earning the city the nickname of the "Arsenal of Democracy".

Now the city's name has become synonymous with decline, decay and crime.

Detroit has seen its population fall to 700,000 from a peak of 1.8 million people in 1950, and the city's government has been beset by corruption cases over the years.

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Re: Detroit files for Bankruptcy

Post  Panda on Tue 30 Jul - 15:09

Detroit, the 'used to be' cityBy Heidi Ewing, Special to CNN
July 29, 2013 -- Updated 1037 GMT (1837 HKT)
Detroit has become the largest American city to declare bankruptcy. People who spend any time there grow accustomed to hearing the words "used to be," says Heidi Ewing, co-director of "Detropia," a documentary about the Michigan city and its uncertain future. An aerial view, circa 1950, of the old Tiger Stadium and the downtown skyline shows the Motor City in all its former glory. The American automobile industry has been centered in Detroit. Rows of these behemoths in a city parking lot around 1960 show the industry at its height.
Music also played an important role in the success of Detroit, where Motown Records was headquartered in the 1960s. Here Stevie Wonder, left, and Marvin Gaye record in a Motown studio in Detroit in 1965.
A mother gives her child advice during a boxcar race in Livonia, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, circa 1955. The move to the suburbs accelerated, especially after rioting that devastated Detroit in 1967.
Downtown Detroit is full of people on a rainy afternoon circa 1955. Looking at old photos of the Motor City, Ewing says she always was a bit envious of the city life that eluded her and her siblings who grew up in the suburbs.
Tugboats race on the Detroit River in 1954.
Pete Babando, left, and Harry Lumley of the Detroit Red Wings celebrate in the locker room with the Stanley Cup after defeating the New York Rangers in the 1950 Stanley Cup finals in Detroit.

HIDE CAPTION
Detroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory daysDetroit, the glory days<<< 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 >>>STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Heidi Ewing: People in Detroit always talk about how pretty, how lively, things used to be
Ewing grew up in suburbs, but she loved the snapshots of her parents in 1960s Detroit
She wanted to film the "comeback city," but found desperate people on the margins
Ewing decided to turn camera on the folks who stayed to bring Detroit back to its vibrant past
Editor's note: Heidi Ewing is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, the owner of Loki Films and the co-director of "Detropia," a new documentary about Detroit and its uncertain future. She is from Metro Detroit and lives in New York. On Twitter, follow Ewing @HeidiLoki and "Detropia" @detropiathefilm.

(CNN) -- "This block used to be full of pretty little houses with well-kept yards." When you spend any time in the newly bankrupt Detroit, you get very accustomed to hearing the words "used to be."

It's a phrase often uttered by the old-timer looking fly in the red suit and crocodile shoes, who may actually remember when Detroit was the pinnacle of industry. But it's also said liberally by young men and women who have been hearing about Detroit's good old days from their parents and grandparents. The thing is, when you are in or around Detroit for awhile, "used to be" seeps into your brain through osmosis -- a simultaneously fuzzy and vivid collective memory that makes the Motor City the most nostalgic place in America.


A snowy evening in Detroit
Crystal Starr sits in the empty window of the Lee Plaza in Detroit. Lee Plaza was once an Art Deco symbol of success, now reduced to a symbol of urban decay.My parents grew up in Detroit and, like too many others, fled to the suburbs in 1967 after years of lingering racial tension boiled over and riots rocked the city. That meant that my sister, brother and I grew up 20 minutes from Detroit's 8 Mile, the border that, like a hammer, separates the current and "ex" Detroiters.

My grandma stayed stubbornly behind on Faust Street on the Northwest side of Detroit. I would visit on weekends and go through the attic, looking for clues of what Detroit used to be.

I especially relished the boxes of black and white snapshots of my parents in the 1960s. There they were in one shot, sipping cheap Cold Duck sparkling wine while throwing a party at La Plaisance, their high-rise in Lafayette Park, a sweet pad that overlooked the Stroh's brewery.

In another one of my favorites, they stand with my older brother PJ, then 3 years old, in front of J.L. Hudson's, the beloved department store where the elevators had operators and the restaurant served salads with celery seed dressing. It was hard not to be curious and a bit envious of this city life that had eluded my siblings and me.


Heidi EwingIn high school, my girlfriends and I made pilgrimages past 8 Mile Road every weekend to hang out with the city boys who went to the excellent U. of D. Jesuit High. They introduced us to Rock n' Bowl, a bowling alley that blasted New Order and let us drink the Mad Dog 20/20 we had bought illegally from a liquor store with bulletproof glass. The city felt dangerous, but we felt immortal.

Opinion: How Detroit can rise again

I finally got my chance to live in Detroit in 2010, when I moved there to make a documentary about the city. Like many Americans, I had caught a whiff of optimism from Detroit, rumors about newcomers and artists descending on "The D," news of urban planners and visionaries who had a plan to make it the city of the future. So I came with my crew, ready to roll, even an uplifting title in mind: "Detroit Hustles Harder."

But finding the easy comeback story proved challenging. Although we did indeed encounter a small gang of young creative types and revitalization efforts inside Detroit's small Midtown area, beyond these few blocks of hope we found a citizenry fending entirely for itself.


Albom: Detroit is not Atlantis
Detroit files for bankruptcy
Detroit's fall from grace
Can Detroit reinvent itself? The truth is, we encountered an endless parade of grotesquerie in Detroit: A scary dude named Jay Thunderbolt, face disfigured from a gunshot, running a depraved strip club out of his deceased parents' home. A young man named Chuck trying to make it as an R&B artist when his house gets shot up by men with AK 47s on Christmas Eve, his calls to the Detroit Police unanswered. An old woman, head of a community cleanup group, robbed in her home in broad daylight. Illegal "scrappers" dismantling an old Cadillac repair shop just to get money for beer. An overworked demolition crew, hired by the city, brimming with tales of finding frozen bodies during routine jobs.

We were flummoxed. Was our truth-telling becoming an exercise in exploitation? Where were the solutions we came for? It was time to stop asking who may save Detroit and instead ask Detroiters what compelled them to stay in this dysfunctional place.

We started with Tommy Stephens, a former schoolteacher who, despite thinning crowds, opens the Raven Lounge every weekend on a bombed-out block in East Detroit. He stays because "Detroit without a black-owned blues club just isn't Detroit anymore. And somebody's got to do it."

Along Michigan Avenue, we met George, who, after 30 years still slogs away at UAW Local 22, trying, often in vain, to keep jobs in the city. "The middle class was born right here in Detroit," he said. And across town, there was David, who turned down an easy life in California to run the Detroit Opera House. "If a city has no cultural institutions," he said, "then is it still a city at all?"

RoboCop creator: Detroit shows film's fictional future is upon us

All these people had one thing in common: A deep sense of duty and unflagging belief that they need to do their part to preserve some of what had made Detroit a source of great pride for this country. With looming slashes to pensions and the threat of more service cutbacks that will come with Chapter 9, I wonder how many loyalists will question their sacrifices?

The subjects of the film, which in the end we called "Detropia," could not escape the deep nostalgia that compels them to stick with Detroit. This burden of the past haunts even the 20-something Crystal Starr, who spends her time off prowling through abandoned buildings, flashlight in one hand and a book about Detroit's history in the other.

She'd climb to the top floors and sit in old kitchens, looking out the giant windows, panes long gone, trying to recall a time when this place was on the rise. "It's weird," she said one day, looking out at the cityscape. "I wasn't even here for the good times, but still, I have the memory of this place when it was bangin'."


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Re: Detroit files for Bankruptcy

Post  Panda on Wed 21 Aug - 17:20

Detroit’s latest headache: Roaming packs of abandoned dogs


Chris Christoff, Bloomberg News | 13/08/21 | Last Updated: 13/08/21 11:43 AM ET
More from Bloomberg News
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Jeff Kowalsky/BloombergA pit bull is leashed as it is being quarantined after biting someone in Detroit, Michigan..









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Thousands of stray dogs roam the streets and vacant homes of bankrupt Detroit, replacing residents, menacing humans who remain and overwhelming the city’s ability to find them homes or peaceful deaths.


The US$1M cheque that sat in a drawer: How Detroit went bust

In late February, cash-strapped Detroit received a US$1 million cheque from the local school system that wasn’t deposited. The routine payment wound up in a city hall desk drawer, where it was found a month later.

This is the way Detroit did business as it slid toward bankruptcy, which it entered July 18. The move exposed US$18 billion of long-term obligations in a city plagued by unreliable buses, broken street lights and long waits for police and ambulances. Underlying poor service is a government that lacks modern technology and can’t perform such basic functions as bill collecting, according to Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager.

Continue reading.
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As many as 20 canines have been found making dens in boarded-up homes in the community of about 700,000 that once pulsed with 1.8 million people. One officer in the Police Department’s skeleton animal-control unit recalled a pack splashing away in a basement that flooded when thieves ripped out water pipes.

“The dogs were having a pool party,” said Lapez Moore, 30. “We went in and fished them out.”

Poverty roils the Motor City and many dogs have been left to fend for themselves, abandoned by owners who are financially stressed or unaware of proper care. Strays have killed pets, bitten mail carriers and clogged the animal shelter, where more than 70% are euthanized. There are as many as 50,000 of them roaming the city, said Harry Ward, head of animal control.

“With these large open expanses with vacant homes, it’s as if you designed a situation that causes dog problems,” he said.

Symbiotic Suffering

The number of strays signals a humanitarian crisis, said Amanda Arrington of the Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington. She heads a program that donated US$50,000 each to organizations in Detroit and nine other U.S cities to get pets vaccinated, fed, spayed and neutered.

Arrington said when she visited Detroit in October, “It was almost post-apocalyptic, where there are no businesses, nothing except people in houses and dogs running around.”

“The suffering of animals goes hand in hand with the suffering of people.”




Jeff Kowalsky/BloombergMalachi Jackspon, an officer with the City of Detroit Animal Control secures a pit bull that was captured to be quarantined after biting someone..

She said pet owners who move leave behind dogs, hoping neighbours will care for them. Those dogs take to the streets and reproduce. Compounding that are the estimated 70,000 vacant buildings that provide shelter for dogs, or where some are chained without care to ward off thieves, Ward said.

Most strays are pets that roam, often in packs that form around a female in heat, Ward said. Few are true feral dogs that have had no human contact.

Ward said Detroit’s three shelters — his and two non- profit facilities — take in 15,000 animals a year, including strays and pets that are seized or given up by owners.


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Fearing Humans

They are among the victims of a historic financial and political collapse. Detroit, a former auto manufacturing powerhouse, declared the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy on July 18 after years of decline. The city has more than US$18-billion in long-term debt and had piled up an operating deficit of close to US$400-million. Falling revenue forced cutbacks in police, fire-fighting — and dog control.

With an annual budget of US$1.6-million, Ward has four officers to cover the 139-square-mile (360-square-kilometre) city seven days a week, 11 fewer than when he took command in 2008. He has one dog-bite investigator, down from three.

“We are really suffering from fatigue, short staffed” and work too much overtime, he said in an interview.

The officers, who wear bulletproof vests to protect themselves from irate owners, are bringing in about half the number of animals that crews did in 2008, Ward said.

In July, the pound stopped accepting more animals for a month because the city hadn’t paid a service that hauls away euthanized animals for cremation at a cost of about US$20,000 a year. The freezers were packed with carcasses, and pens were full of live animals until the bill was paid.

Famous Fighter

Pit bulls and breeds mixed with them dominate Detroit’s stray population because of widespread dog fighting, said Ward. Males are aggressive in mating, so they proliferate, he added.

One type of fighting pit bull has become known as far as Los Angeles as the “Highland Park red,” named after a city within Detroit’s borders, Ward said.




Jeff Kowalsky/BloombergStray dogs are kept in a holding cage at the City of Detroit Animal Control office in Detroit..

Their prevalence was clear as Ward and officers Moore and Malachi Jackson answered calls Aug. 19. On a block where vacant houses and lots outnumbered occupied ones, they found four dogs in an abandoned house — a male and three females, including a pregnant pit bull with a prized blue-gray coat.

Ward said it appeared the dogs were fed by someone who used the house to hide stolen items.

Walking Small

Aggressive dogs force the U.S. Postal Service to temporarily halt mail delivery in some neighbourhoods, said Ed Moore, a Detroit-area spokesman. He said there were 25 reports of mail carriers bitten by dogs in Detroit from October through July. Though most are by pets at homes, strays have also attacked, Moore said.

“It’s been a persistent problem,” he said.

Mail carrier Catherine Guzik told of using pepper spray on swarms of tiny, ferocious dogs in a southwest Detroit neighbourhood.




Jeff Kowalsky/BloombergU.S. Postal Service worker worker Inesha Treadwell delivers mail on Manistique, a block that has few occupied homes..

“It’s like Chihuahuaville,” Guzik said as she walked her route.

At two nearby homes, one pet dog was killed recently and another injured by two stray pit bulls that jumped fences into yards, said neighbour Debora Mattie, 49.

Last year, there were 903 dog bites in Detroit, according to Ward, adding that most go unreported to police. He said 90% are by dogs whose owners are known.

After Attack

Many de facto strays are called pets by owners who let them wander, said Kristen Huston, who leads the Detroit office of All About Animals Rescue, a non-profit that obtained the Humane Society’s US$50,000 grant last year to feed, vaccinate and sterilize pets. Some dogs run away from their neighbourhoods and threaten people, she said.

“Technically, it’s illegal to let a dog roam, but with the city being bankrupt, who’s going to do anything about it?” Huston said.




Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberglapez Moore, an officer with the City of Detroit Animal Control, left, and fellow officer Malachi Jackson capture a pit bull..

Huston said she walks through some of the poorest neighbourhoods to talk to pet owners about how to care for their animals, sometimes giving them bags of food or even a free doghouse.

Ward said more needs to be done to educate pet owners. He said his crews are too few, but help keep dogs in check.

Four months ago, a woman sitting on her porch on the east side was attacked by two strays that tore off her scalp, Ward said.

“We got those dogs,” he said. “It’s a big difference to that lady that those dogs were gone that day.”

www.bloomberg.com

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