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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

(VIDEO): Thirteen Years for Total Control - Why the Detroit Bankruptcy 'Grand Bargain' is a Bad Deal

Photo Credit - The Detroit News
The Spirit of Detroit Statue in Detroit, Michigan

Being in Michigan for a lifetime, memory reflects back to the times of youth when this state had good or at least decent, government.

In this case, the times of former Governor William Milliken (R). A leader of his age that signed legislation such as Michigan's Public Meeting Act which made it mandatory elected bodies of governance across our beloved state give notice to the people when meeting on legislation, policies and ordinances voted upon.

That was then and this is Michigan now. Ranking 44th out of 50th across the nation on a Investigation Report card from the Center for Public Integrity, the Great Lakes receives a total face palm fail letter grade of a "F". The only grade which could be worse is a "F-", but possibly the investigators were being kind to our state.

Well, they shouldn't have because the truth needs to be told. Michigan is Corrupt.

In 2013, this resource penned an article syndicated by Hood Research -Think Tank of Detroit Michigan correctly titled "Michigan - A Model of Corruption".

The piece detailed how one measure to eliminate the States' Court of Claims worked its' way though the system of back room deals and negotiations; effectively gutting The People's ability to regress grievances of State Law. Today, the Court of Claims in Michigan essentially no longer exist.

Instead, Michigan State Appeals Court Judges decide when or if ever to assign a claim to a fellow Judge of their liking. Yes, you read that correct. The end result of HB 4833 of 2013 was if The People are lucky enough to have a grievance against standing State Law heard, it could be forever or never at all.

Moving on to 2014, and each year since January 1, 2011 -- the team of Governor Rick Snyder et. al., along with associated Republicans controlling our State House and Senate has been indeed, interesting.

Michigan's largest City of Detroit filed or was forced -- the proper term -- to enter a Federal Bankruptcy Court of Law. Assigned Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day Law Firm has worked at the Governor's bequest, paid by Michigan's taxpayers, to bob and weave Detroit into what is now known as a "Grand Bargain'.

The 'Grand Bargain' passed by a negotiation team made of up Michigan House Republicans and Democrats last week, seeks to grant thirteen or more years of State Oversight over Michigan's Largest City for $194.8 Million dollars to "sure up" City of Detroit Pension Guarantees -- more on that later.

In essence, buying the right to manage, control, appoint and more of what happens in Detroit for the next thirteen and so forth and so on years -- on end.

Two problems immediately rise to the surface about our Corrupt State of Government in Michigan.

First, the State owes Detroit upwards of $300 Million dollars in State Shared Revenue. At this point, no one in Lansing except for two Democrat House Representatives out of Detroit, desired to talk about this. One of the State House Representatives David Nathan (D-Detroit) took to the Chamber body floor on May 22, 2014 to express his sound reasoning on why the 'Grand Bargain' is not so grand after all.

Second, what elected local governmental body would give a entity oversight of its' management, when that same State cannot manage to fix crumbing roads Statewide, A Public School System is falling apart at the seams and worse yet -- the Governor gave a $22 Million dollar contract to his Cousin George Snyder in the furniture business.
"State Representative Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) proposed amendments today to House Bills 5313 and 5314, the fiscal year 2015 General Fund and School Aid Fund budget bills, that would transfer $22 million from a controversial state furniture contract to local schools and place a $1 million cap on bloated state office furniture spending," cited on Representative Dillon's website April 17.

The proposals are part of a reform package aimed at reining in contract and ethical abuses by the Snyder administration and House Republican lawmakers, and were voted down."
Detroit, that's who. Why -- because they have no choice.

Pensioners are afraid the Guarantee that exist in Michigan's Constitutional founding document that says in part "Pensions shall NOT be impaired" is not worth the paper it is written on. Detroit's Governmental body functions at the feet of a Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder from Maryland.

If for some reason the Elected Officials in Detroit stand up to blatant actions solidifying their role as "Officials by Proxy' Orr can dismiss them from their roles. Similar to a King dismissing the pennants from his castle. It's game of Chess. Republicans and Governor Rick Snyder (R) has declared checkmate, on the City of Detroit.

Yet, just because an action is forced upon thee, does not make it right. Or allows such actions to pass the smell test.

Take this cautionary note from David Skeel -a professor of bankruptcy law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in the Washington Post.
Out of nowhere came the art-for-pensions scheme. The deal calls for Detroit to “sell” its art to a newly created trust that is required to keep the art in the city, using roughly $370 million raised from the Ford, Kresge, Knight and other foundations, $350 million from the state of Michigan (if the Republican legislature agrees) and the institute’s own funds. Not only would the new entity keep the art in Detroit but also the entire $816 million would be used to pay Detroit’s pensioners. The art world and Detroit’s pensioners both win. It’s almost like the deus ex machina solution to a Greek play. 
The only problem is the bankruptcy law. A city’s treatment of its creditors in bankruptcy must be “in the best interests of creditors” and cannot “discriminate unfairly.” Best interests means that creditors must get more in bankruptcy than they would outside of bankruptcy; and no unfair discrimination means that Detroit can’t give a much higher recovery to one group of general creditors than to another. 
The art-for-pensions deal runs roughshod over both requirements. Because the art would be used to pay only one group of creditors — the pension recipients — the excluded creditors may be worse off in bankruptcy than if Detroit had never filed. And Detroit’s current debt adjustment plan would include this influx of cash in a package that gives pensioners at least 95 percent of what they are owed while giving bondholders less than 20 percent.
Remember the $300 Million dollars cited earlier in this piece via video above by State Representative David Nathan (D-Detroit), the State of Michigan owes Detroit in State Shared Revenue?
"Michigan communities have missed out on some $6.2 billion in statutory revenue sharing payments over the past decade as lawmakers and governors diverted funds to fill holes in the state budget, according to a new report from the Michigan Municipal League highlighting losses by community," MLive cited on March 18. 
Detroit, the state's largest city, lost out on $732 million in revenue sharing between 2003 and 2013, according to the report."
Or enough actual cash dollars to pay off Detroit's owed creditors, pensioners and then some.

If by happenstance Michigan Governmental Officials including our Governor Rick Snyder was to fork over what is owed to Detroit, the Pensioners would be made whole, City Artworks would not be on the chopping block, Detroit would have its' government back, the Bankruptcy and its' appointed Overseer Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr just go away.

Yet, that would be too simple of a solution because -- Michigan Is Corrupt.

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