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Detroit emergency manager files bankruptcy

Jul 19th, 2013 - State News

Detroit has become the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.

State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr on Thursday asked a federal judge permission to place the city into Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

If approved, the filing would allow Orr to liquidate city assets to satisfy a host of creditors and city pensioners lined up to recoup losses from bad bond investments and unpaid contracts.

A number of factors — most notably steep population and tax base falls — have been blamed on Detroit's tumble toward insolvency.

Detroit lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010.

Orr was unable to convince enough creditors, bondholders and employee pension representatives to accept pennies on the dollar as he attempted a fiscal restructuring of Detroit.

— Detroit's emergency financial manager says bankruptcy is the "first step toward restoring the city."

The comments came after Detroit became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy Thursday.

The filing put the city on an uncertain course that could mean laying off municipal employees, selling off assets, raising fees and scaling back basic services such as trash collection and snow plowing, which have already been slashed.

Emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr says it's business as usual in Detroit. He says the city will stay open and bills will be paid.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he didn't want the city to go bankrupt, but now that it's happened, the people of the city "have to make the best of it."

— Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says the timing of Detroit's bankruptcy filing was slightly affected by legal challenges from opponents.

Snyder nonetheless says a filing was inevitable after he agreed this week with a recommendation from Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

Snyder spoke to reporters Thursday on a conference call, about two hours after a 16-page document was filed in bankruptcy court. He says "enough is enough of the downward spiral of Detroit."

Snyder says the city can get a "clean slate" with a judge resolving billions in debt. Detroit has more than $18 billion in debt and other liabilities and doesn't take in enough revenue to cover them.

City workers and retirement funds had sued to prevent Snyder from approving a bankruptcy request. That litigation will be suspended.

— The White House says it's standing by Detroit after it became the biggest city in America to file for bankruptcy.

Spokeswoman Amy Brundage says President Barack Obama and senior advisers are monitoring the situation.

Brundage adds that while Michigan leaders and the city's creditors understand their responsibility to solve Detroit's financial problems, the White House will continue to partner with Detroit as it tries to recover and maintain its status as one of America's great cities.

Thursday's filing in federal bankruptcy court was approved by Governor Rick Snyder. The move puts the city on an uncertain path that could lead to layoffs of city workers, the sale of city assets, higher fees and cuts in such services as trash and snow removal.

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