MuniLand

Is it time to replace Detroit’s emergency manager?

In a stunning decision, bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes refused to approve a $165 million settlement proposed by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr to pay off Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and UBS for dubious interest rate swaps. Orr’s swap proposal has been contentious since Detroit formally filed for bankruptcy on July 18th, 2013. The Detroit News reported:

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on Thursday denied a deal that would have allowed Detroit to pay two banks $165 million to terminate a troubled pension debt deal blamed for pushing the city into bankruptcy.

Rhodes ruled the settlement was too expensive and that Detroit was ‘reasonably likely’ to win a lawsuit against two banks involved in the pension debt deal.

In sharp terms, the judge said he will not let Detroit continue to make bad financial decisions, the likes of which triggered the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. ‘The court … will not participate or perpetuate hasty and imprudent financial decision-making,’ Rhodes said. ‘It’s just too much money.’

The market reaction to Detroit’s bankruptcy ruling

Fitch Ratings managing director Amy Laskey talked to Fox Business about how Detroit is a unique story in muniland. Fitch published a research note on the bankruptcy ruling and concluded that Detroit’s ruling would not lead to a “spate” of local bankruptcies in Michigan:

Although the judge ruled that pensions could be adjusted, Fitch does not believe the ruling grants Detroit’s emergency manager unlimited freedom to adjust these obligations. The city must submit a plan of adjustment to the bankruptcy court, which must be deemed ‘fair and equitable’ by the presiding judge. The emergency manager expects to submit the plan to the court by year-end. Fitch does not believe that the judge’s decision on pensions will lead to a spate of additional bankruptcy filings in Michigan.

The New York Times, on the other hand, suggested that the Detroit’s ruling could impact other cities:

Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy – How it happened

Detroit was ruled eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. Twitter coverage of the federal eligibility hearing tracked the history. Here are the highlights:

Detroit bankruptcy hearing – Closing arguments

Tweets from the final day in the federal trial to determine if Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection:

 

Detroit bankruptcy hearing – Day 8

It was the last day of testimony in Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility hearing. Here are some tweets leading up to the closing arguments on Friday:

 

Detroit bankruptcy hearing – Day 7

It is a real hand-to-hand fight in Detroit as creditors seek to establish that emergency manager Kevyn Orr did not conduct “good faith” negotiations prior to filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the city. It’s surprising that the city is not arguing that there were too many creditors to negotiate. The bankruptcy code allows a debtor to use this provision to escape conducting negotiations. Here are tweets from Tuesday:

 

Detroit bankruptcy hearing – Day 6

The sixth day of Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility hearing was about whether the city negotiated in good faith with creditors. Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr (@MotownEM) returned to the stand to continue his testimony. Orr was appointed emergency manager on March 14, 2013. Here is the coverage from journalists and others on Twitter:

 

Detroit’s bankruptcy hearing – Day 5

On Tuesday Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr returned to the witness stand to be grilled by creditor attorneys. This is likely to be some of the most important testimony of the eligibility trial.

Detroit’s bankruptcy hearing – Day 4

In day four of Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility hearing some big issues with both state and federal ramifications were addressed. It was the first time in American history that a sitting governor was called to testify in a Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy case.

The twitter handle for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is @onetoughnerd. Detroit’s Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr’s twitter handle is @motownem.

Detroit bankruptcy hearing – Day 2

If you want to follow Detroit’s historic bankruptcy trial, Twitter is the way to do it. The court does not provide a video or audio feed, but there is a scrum of excellent local and national reporters tweeting throughout the day. Here are some of the best tweets:

 

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