Tuesday, December 28, 2010

michigan town pleading for bankruptcy

NYTimes | Leaders of this city met for more than seven hours on a Saturday not long ago, searching for something to cut from a budget that has already been cut, over and over.

This time they slashed money for boarding up abandoned houses — aside from circumstances like vagrants or obvious rats, said William J. Cooper, the city manager. They shrank money for trimming trees and cutting grass on hundreds of lots that have been left to the city. And Mr. Cooper is hoping that predictions of a ferocious snow season prove false; once state road money runs out, the city has set nothing aside to plow streets.

“We can make it until March 1 — maybe,” Mr. Cooper said of Hamtramck’s ability to pay its bills. Beyond that? The political leaders of this old working-class city almost surrounded by Detroit are pleading with the state to let them declare bankruptcy, a desperate move the state is not even willing to admit as an option under the current circumstances.

“The state is concerned that if they say yes to one, if that door is opened, they’ll have 30 more cities right behind us,” Mr. Cooper said, as flurries fell outside his City Hall window. “But anything else is just a stop gap. We’re going to continue to pursue bankruptcy until the door is shut, locked, barricaded, bolted.”

Bankruptcy, increasingly common among corporations and individuals, remains rare for municipalities. Local leaders who want to win elections find it unappealing and often have other choices for solving financial woes. Besides, states have a say in whether a municipality may pursue bankruptcy at all, and they have every reason to avoid such an outcome, not least of all for fear of a creating a ripple effect that could cripple the municipal bond market and drive up the cost of borrowing.

Yet with anemic property tax revenues and forecasts of more dire financial times ahead, some experts and elected leaders fear that more localities may have to at least consider bankruptcy.

“There could be many cities in this position next year,” said Summer Hallwood Minnick, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, who added that in this state, cities had already struggled with billions less than expected in state revenue sharing. “All our communities have done is cut, cut, cut. They’re down to four-day workweeks and the elimination of parks, senior centers, all of that. So if there’s anything else that happens, they will be over the edge.”

This month, the authorities in Rhode Island said the City of Central Falls could face bankruptcy if immediate, drastic changes — perhaps the city’s annexation into a neighboring municipality — failed. Some leaders in Harrisburg, Pa., which owes millions in debt payments tied to an incinerator project, say bankruptcy may eventually be the only choice.

Prichard, Ala., which stopped paying monthly checks to retired city workers when its pension fund ran out last year, is appealing a bankruptcy judge’s ruling that it did not qualify for Chapter 9 under Alabama law.


nana said...

BUENOS AIRES — It has become a nightly ritual. The residents of Villa Lugano, a scruffy neighborhood on the city’s south side, burn tires and beat drums, while a dozen police officers in fluorescent orange jerseys stand behind a metal barricade, protecting about 90 squatters from the neighbors’ wrath.
The squatters, mostly immigrants fleeing desperate slums, moved onto a soccer field on federal land here two weeks ago, insisting they had no other options. Neighborhood residents, fearing that a crime-ridden slum was springing up in their midst, want them evicted, as a federal judge has ordered

This is quite an interesting article added to what is happening here. I also sent you an article on Holy Ignorance. With the culling of the elderly and poor around this globe. The matter of Faith will be the core debate imho

CNu said...

Nana, I had the privilege of getting away from the nuclear familial for a couple hours over the weekend and just whiling away the time in one of my absolutely favorite places in the world, the Super Flea. Between the shi-ite bombmakers impersonating shopkeepers and the ku-klux teabaggers selling swords and bongs, there are the geriatric revenants who actually sell otherwise impossible to find parts and supplies, and as a sideline, have tons and tons of hardcover books for sale for a dollar a piece. I bought two such books and am devouring them in tandem - both published in 1962.

1. Parasitism and Subversion - which is a political science and sociological account of society and politics in Latin America - and most illuminating given your comment above.

2. The Warfare State - published between Eisenhower's farewell warning about the military industrial congressional complex, and the unspeakable's assassination of Kennedy - and providing the most detailed accounting I've ever seen to date of the machinery of the warsocialist apparatus. Inclusive of details concerning the "gentleman from Boeing" whose incessant earmarking and pork hustling in the senate provided Big Don with lifelong, non-productive employment. (as distinct from "work" and as detailed in the Parasitism and Subversion text which explains the extent to which urban Latin America is almost utterly parasitic wrt its relations with rural Latin America - because it manufactures n.o.t.h.i.n.g)

Big Don said...

CNu - You are very fortunate that, among other associated fortuities, you and your wife and kids are not speaking Russian today, maybe even Russian with a Siberian accent...

ProfGeo said...

This time they slashed money for boarding up abandoned houses — aside from circumstances like vagrants or obvious rats, said William J. Cooper, the city manager.

Unless the obvious rats include drug dealers, I have spent enough time in Gary to know what comes next with a plethora of abandoned dwellings. Oh, heck, they are no doubt already there...

P.S. CNu, interesting transition to Disqus (which I insist on calling "discus" and not "discuss").

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