The Craig Fahle Show

Bankruptcy Update With Bankole Thompson

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Editor of The Michigan Chronicle and WDET Senior News Analyst Bankole Thompson joins Craig to discuss “where the public is, where the community is” on the city’s Plan of Adjustment. They begin by discussing the “uncomfortable position” the city’s creditors – including retirees – are in.

“We know that when people are in difficult times and economic crisis, people look to the faith community for answers,” Bankole says. “I talked to some people about the grand bargain. I think the role of the clergy is important, and they’ve always played an important role in this city.”

Bankole interviewed several Detroit pastors about what they’re hearing from their parishioners and what they’re preaching from the pulpits about Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, the city’s restructuring plan and the votes the 32,000 pensioners can cast.

Some were dismissive, he says, but “at the same time they accepted it, a deal that basically could be the only option for retirees.”

Bad decisions by political leaders led the city to where it is, Bankole says, but he cited one example of someone trying to change the course: not even a decade ago, then-Auditor General Joseph Harris had warned the city would go broke by 2010.

“I remember Joseph Harris every year, he would issue reports that were damning or indicting of how the city was controlling its finances,” Bankole says. “Come to find out I mean, where we’re at today, when you look at the state of finances in Detroit, I think Harris in many ways has been vindicated.” One of the problems with and for Orr, according to Bankole, is the environment of the city and residents’ perceptions of any political leaders.

“People are so tuned out of politics to the extent that they believe whenever elected officials come to the table for anything, Craig, there’s no such thing as the public good there’s always an agenda behind it,” Thompson says. “That mistrust is extended to the grand bargain as well.”

Still, Bankole tells Craig that the city’s clergy have reviewed Orr’s plans, and while they may not like the emergency manager-led government, the cuts for retirees and other elements of the bankruptcy, they’ve generally reached the same conclusion: “The best way to get out of this is to support the grand bargain. It’s almost lesser of two evils.”

Find more coverage of Detroit's bankruptcy and its impact on people and neighborhoods on WDET's Next Chapter Detroit blog.

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