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Rhodes gets ok to proceed from expert he hired

By Vince Phillips

“It is likely that the City of Detroit, after the confirmation of the Plan of Adjustment, will be able to sustainably provide basic municipal services to the citizens of Detroit and to meet the obligations contemplated in the plan without the significant probability of a default.”

Last week the court-appointed expert, Martha E.M. Kopacz, who gave her opinion to Judge Rhodes on the feasibility of the bankruptcy plan created by Kevyn Orr.

judge Steven Rhodes

judge Steven Rhodes

Kopacz delivered what Judge Steven Rhodes asked and paid her for. The 226-page report has no surprises. It gives the judge plenty of opportunity to agree to the Plan of Adjustment and to give the City of Detroit some protection from its many creditors.

The report is also critical of local government. Citing a “vortex of underachievement” in the past, the report sets its findings in a hopeful view of the competence, leadership skills and integrity of Mayor Michael Duggan.

This stress on Duggan’s role is one of the strategies the report uses to provide a lot of qualifications and uncertainties in its judgment the plan is “feasible.”

The budget for this report was $800,000 and $1.2 million. It is a dry document and there is no public summary provided.

Our review raises some questions about the reality behind the conclusions.

–  There is no assessment of what it means that the majority of retirees did not vote at all on the plan. Nor is there any consideration of the propaganda techniques used to bully people into voting yes.

Many critics of the voting process say the whole thing was presented as a TINA: There Is No Alternative (TINA). If people didn’t accept it, they were threatened with dire cuts.

–  The report’s exclusive focus is on government operations.  It talks about “restructuring” government in ways where operations are “optimized” for human and community economic development. But there is no clear link between this restructuring and how it will improve quality of life for the majority of residents. So far our experiences here in Detroit and elsewhere show this neoliberal “restructuring” is a code term for privatizing public functions. There is no way it could yield broad benefit to people. This is the “big lie” of emergency management. Development benefits the wealthy. The poor have water shut off.

–  There is not one word in the report about the emergency manager’s policy of mass water shutoffs. This has been internationally condemned. In a community wracked by poverty, these shutoffs are a form of ethnic cleansing under the guise of cleansing debt from DWSD’s books.

For this report to praise decisions made by the emergency management as reflecting adequate leadership that produced a “feasible” plan of adjustment, is delusional, if it is sincere.

Kopacz’s report, at page 24, inexplicably asserts “Black, white, Republican, Democrat, poor, wealthy, educated, illiterate and everyone in between have an opportunity to contribute to the virtuous cycle of revitalization, or not.”

A much more accurate assessment of the distribution of opportunity and contribution in the context of Detroit today was recently offered by one of the emergency manger’s most ardent supporters, former council member Sheila Murphy Cockrel: “People can go down to the river and pick up a bucket of water. That’s your right.”

 

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