Sandbox

By Nancy Derringer
Bridge Magazine, Detroit Journalism Cooperative

To Mayor Mike Duggan, at least publicly, Detroit post-bankruptcy is nothing but blue skies — with a few clouds that cast occasional shadows over the sprawling city.

To the head of its firefighters union, it’s a time of “all-time low” morale for the city’s workforce that’s basically been insulted by cuts to pensions and forced health care payments.

Residents are mixed, with optimists looking forward to better times, and others worrying that ordinary Detroiters and ordinary neighborhoods will be forgotten in the crowing over rebirth and success in the central..

The historic deal shed about $7 billion — roughly 40 percent — of the city’s long-term debt, largely through reductions to pensions and retiree health care. It brought an infusion of money to shore up the pension funds in exchange for preventing the sale of the city-owned collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay creditors. Legislators agreed to send state money to pension funds because oversight panels would monitor the city’s finances. Unions accepted five-year contracts and retirees voted for the deal, accepting terms that prevented them from challenging it in courts.

So how is the bankruptcy settlement, hammered out under now-retired Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, holding up after a year?