Mackinac Policy Conference: Among the optimism, columnist urges caution

Mackinac Policy Conference: Among the optimism, columnist urges caution

The overwhelming attitude at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference is optimism about the future of Detroit. Between the rousing speech Mayor Mike Duggan gave the first day to Gov. Rick Snyder’s public commitment to restructuring the city and funding pensions with state money, the audience has been applauding and envisioning a functional Detroit post-bankruptcy.

But Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes urges some realistic caution with that healthy optimism:

For as much as attendees this week to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference may sense a Detroit on the precipice of radical change, establishing the legal framework to exit bankruptcy by October and complete the municipal restructuring is fraught with uncertainties political leaders and the city’s bankruptcy lawyers cannot control.

While the city has reached agreements with several employee and retiree groups, pensioners as a class still must vote in favor of the city’s debt-restructuring plan as part of the bankruptcy case. Without favorable votes from the pensioners, the “grand bargain” money goes away. Until the votes are counted in July, the results won’t be known.

Howes also points out the July 24 confirmation hearing is not a date set in stone, and the future structure of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department isn’t set.

Detroit’s bankruptcy still has several “next chapters.”