The 2014 Detroit Bankruptcy

Public meeting at the University of Michigan

Exposing the Bankers’ Conspiracy: A Report on the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit

20 January 2014

The Socialist Equality Party and International Youth and Students for Social Equality will hold a public meeting at the University of Michigan on Wednesday, February 5 to discuss the campaign to build the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

Behind the fraudulent “rescue” plan

Emergency Manager seeks to extort $100 million from Detroit Institute of Arts

By Thomas Gaist, 18 January 2014

The $100 million demand amounts to an act of extortion and would have a ruinous impact on the museum’s balance sheet.

Bankruptcy judge tells Detroit officials to renegotiate bank swap deal

By Thomas Gaist, 17 January 2014

Rhodes acknowledged that a challenge to the legality of the “swaps deal” was “likely to succeed” but told the Detroit emergency manager to re-negotiate a payoff for the banks anyway

International Youth and Students for Social Equality holds rally to build support for Workers Inquiry

By our reporters, 17 January 2014

The IYSSE at Detroit’s Wayne State University is leading the fight to develop working class opposition to the bankruptcy.

Detroit retirees denounce pension, health care cuts

By WSWS reporters, 16 January 2014

Facing the loss of their pensions and health benefits, thousands of retired Detroit city workers attended an event January 14 called by the union-affiliated Detroit Retired City Employees Association.

Meeting January 23 at Wayne State University: Exposing the bankers’ conspiracy

A Report on the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit

16 January 2014

The Socialist Equality Party and International Youth and Students for Social Equality will hold a public meeting on January 23 at Wayne State University to discuss the campaign to build the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

"This deal should have the swap counterparties paying the city"

Further evidence shows illegality of Detroit interest rate swaps

By Thomas Gaist, 14 January 2014

Witnesses testified Monday that the 2005 interest rate swaps deal, which has drained hundreds of millions from Detroit's budget, was made in violation of Michigan state law.

Hands off the Detroit Institute of Arts and pensions!

By Larry Porter, 14 January 2014

The following statement was released by Larry Porter, the assistant national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party and chairman of the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit and the Attack on the DIA and Pensions.

“Educated workers are dangerous workers”

Support builds for the Workers Inquiry into Detroit bankruptcy

By our reporting team, 13 January 2014

An SEP campaign team discussed the upcoming Detroit Workers Inquiry at Eastern Market on Saturday.

Why is Dan Gilbert on the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force?

By Kevin Reed, 11 January 2014

An examination of the Blight Removal Task Force co-chaired by billionaire Dan Gilbert shows it has nothing to do with improving the conditions of life of the people of Detroit.

Behind the attack on the Detroit Institute of Arts

The oligarchs and their playthings: The private museum comes into its own

By Nancy Hanover, 9 January 2014

In December, a US District Court judge proposed a “grand bargain” in which the world-class Detroit Institute of Art would be handed over to private foundations in exchange for $500 million, ending the century-long public ownership of the famous museum.

Wall Street swindles, not pensions, behind financial crisis in Detroit and other US cities

By Thomas Gaist, 8 January 2014

Detroit is only one in a long line of cities, which have paid gigantic sums to the big banks as a result of predatory interest rate swaps.

Emergency manager acknowledges bank deals pushed on Detroit were likely illegal

By Thomas Gaist, 6 January 2014

Hearings continued last week on a plan for Detroit to pay $165 million to end a swaps deal with Bank of America and UBS that has already bled hundreds of millions of dollars from the city’s coffers.

Elderly couple dies in house fire on Detroit’s west side

By Shannon Jones, 6 January 2014

The deaths are the most recent in a series of tragedies related to the use of space heaters in cold weather.

Corporate spokesman Mike Duggan inaugurated as Detroit mayor

By Lawrence Porter—chairman of the Detroit Workers Inquiry, 3 January 2014

Duggan assumes an office with virtually no powers, with all decisions in the hands of an unelected emergency manager.

Australia: National Gallery of Victoria patrons denounce selloff of Detroit masterpieces

By our reporters, 3 January 2014

“These things are owned by the people, not just by the city council; they’re the people’s property.”

After years of privatization, Detroit charter school enrollment tops public schools

By Walter Gilberti and Nancy Hanover, 31 December 2013

Long before Michigan’s emergency manager law was used to throw Detroit into bankruptcy, the anti-democratic measure was first used to restructure Detroit schools and create a profit driven school system.

”They want to go back to the days when art was only for the wealthy”

DIA visitors support Workers Inquiry

By Jerry White, 30 December 2013

A Socialist Equality Party team campaigned outside the Detroit Institute of Arts Saturday to build for the Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA to be held February 15 at Wayne State University.

Fee bonanza for attorneys, accountants and consultants:

Who is getting paid for the plunder of Detroit?

By Kevin Reed, 28 December 2013

Nothing reveals more openly the criminal looting of Detroit by the wealthy elite than the $100 million being paid out to well-connected law firms, accountants and consultancy businesses.

Statement from the chairman of the Workers Inquiry

Cancel Detroit’s debt!

By Lawrence Porter, 27 December 2013

Lawrence Porter issued the following statement on the city of Detroit’s settlement with Bank of America and Swiss bank UBS.

As campaign builds for workers inquiry

More Detroit workers speak on pensions, jobs and the DIA

By Tim Rivers, 24 December 2013

Many workers and young people at Chrysler’s Warren Truck plant and Detroit’s Eastern Market spoke out about the issues being investigated by the Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

Inquiry gains momentum among workers

Detroiters denounce the widening social divide

By Tim Rivers, 23 December 2013

At a Chrysler plant and Detroit’s Eastern Market, workers denounced the looting of city pensions and the art museum, the mortgage swindle and the disappearance of well-paying jobs.

“What you have now is not a true government, it is a dictatorship”

Detroit bus drivers speak out on bankruptcy, crisis in city bus system

By our reporters, 21 December 2013

For four years, Detroit residents have seen the already grossly inadequate public bus system gutted by cuts in public funding.

Christie’s appraisal paves way for sale of Detroit Institute of Arts masterpieces

By Joseph Kishore, 20 December 2013

An itemized list from the New York City auction house places the combined monetary value of a selection of the DIA’s most significant artwork at $867 million.

In the bankruptcy court

Detroit emergency manager conceals evidence of possible financial collusion

By Thomas Gaist, 19 December 2013

Nearly two-thirds of the massive loan sought by Kevyn Orr will likely be paid to Bank of America and UBS AG to end the "swap deal."

Detroit’s bankruptcy ruling paves way for new attacks on California workers

By Gabriel Black, 18 December 2013

Detroit’s bankruptcy ruling will be used to deepen the attack against workers in California.

Chairman of Workers Inquiry condemns privatization of Detroit public lighting system

By our reporter, 18 December 2013

Lawrence Porter, the chairman of the Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit, condemned the handover of the city’s public lighting system to utility giant DTE Energy.

Bankruptcy judge moves to privatize Detroit public lighting system

By Thomas Gaist, 17 December 2013

The bankruptcy judge has approved a key aspect of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to privatize Detroit’s public lighting system.

Detroit firefighters, city workers speak out on bankruptcy decision

By our reporters, 16 December 2013

A WSWS team spoke with Detroit fire firefighters and workers at the city’s giant sewerage treatment plant.

Detroit Institute of Arts privatization plan would undermine both art and pensions

By Jerry White, 13 December 2013

Although the details of the secret discussions involving the fate of the Detroit Institute of Arts remain sketchy, a federal mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case is reportedly close to a deal that would privatize the DIA.

Deadly house fires as winter freeze hits Detroit

By our reporting team, 13 December 2013

Two Detroit house fires in the past week have left two children dead and other residents injured.

US budget deal continues attack on federal worker pensions

By Nick Barrickman, 12 December 2013

The attack on federal workers’ retirement funds comes as municipal and state-level employees are also seeing reductions to their future benefits.

The “Detroit Project” in Bochum

By Sybille Fuchs, 12 December 2013

The Detroit project organised in the German city of Bochum is a cultural cover-up for the treachery of the SPD and the trade unions in the city.

The implications of privatizing the Detroit Institute of Arts

By David Walsh, 12 December 2013

The proposal to set up a private trust that would buy the Detroit Institute of Arts from the city of Detroit is historically regressive and would place the priceless artwork firmly in the hands of the moneyed elite.

Before Detroit bankruptcy Democratic Party-led task force demanded huge pension cuts

By Thomas Gaist, 11 December 2013

The 2012 “Report of the State Budget Crisis Task Force” makes the case for massive cuts to social benefits and social infrastructure.

Emergency manager outlines scorched earth policy on Detroit talk show

By Jerry White, 10 December 2013

Appearing Sunday on the Detroit news talk show “Flashpoint,” Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr outlined his plans to attack public employee pensions and sell off public assets.

Supporters of Detroit Workers Inquiry hold meeting with tenants facing eviction

By Our reporting team, 10 December 2013

Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) held a meeting Saturday with tenants facing eviction at the Griswold Apartments in downtown Detroit to discuss the February 15 Workers Inquiry Into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

Millionaire offers $5 million in support of plan to spin off the Detroit Institute of Arts

By Thomas Gaist, 7 December 2013

Ultra-wealthy individuals and foundations are seeking to privatize the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Chrysler workers denounce Detroit bankruptcy ruling, support Workers Inquiry

By WSWS reporting team, 7 December 2013

Workers at Chrysler’s Warren Truck Assembly plant expressed anger at the bankruptcy court ruling that Detroit city workers’ pensions were not protected by the state constitution and could be cut.

Detroit bankruptcy ruling triggers calls for pension cuts across the US

By Jerry White, 6 December 2013

Within days of a federal judge’s ruling in support of the Detroit bankruptcy filing, the devastating implications for the working class across the US are becoming apparent.

Video: SEP holds press conference to announce Workers Inquiry

6 December 2013

The answer of the working class to the ruling of the bankruptcy court in Detroit is being prepared by the campaign for the Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit.

The Detroit bankruptcy ruling

By Jerry White, 5 December 2013

The Detroit bankruptcy ruling handed down Tuesday is a turning point in class relations in the United States.

Detroit workers and students react to bankruptcy ruling

By Thomas Gaist, 5 December 2013

A WSWS reporting team spoke with Detroit Water and Sewerage Department workers and Wayne State University students Wednesday about the Detroit bankruptcy ruling.

Detroit workers denounce bankruptcy ruling and attack on pensions

By Thomas Gaist, 4 December 2013

WSWS reporters spoke with workers in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit, as a judge ruled the city’s bankruptcy could go forward.

On the eve of the bankruptcy ruling

Detroit workers denounce attack on pensions, moves to sell DIA art

By Thomas Gaist, 3 December 2013

Residents spoke out Monday in Hamtramck, a working class enclave in Detroit, as US Judge Steven Rhodes prepared to rule on Detroit’s bankruptcy.

The unions and the Detroit bankruptcy

By Joseph Kishore, 2 December 2013

In precise legal language, a motion filed in bankruptcy court to demand the sale of DIA art exposes the unions as full participants in the bankers’ conspiracy against the working class.

As unions push sale of art treasures

Detroit workers defend DIA

By Tim Rivers, 2 December 2013

In preparation for the February 15 Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit, members of the Socialist Equality Party spoke to workers and students who were visiting the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) last Friday night.

Detroit Blight Task Force surveys neighborhoods in preparation for mass demolition

By Thomas Gaist, 29 November 2013

The Detroit Blight Task Force will be surveying city properties, targeting vast areas for “blight removal and redevelopment” to benefit wealthy investors.

Detroit union joins legal action to force sell-off of DIA art

By Jerry White, 28 November 2013

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has joined a legal action to demand that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr sell the cultural treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay off the city’s creditors.

A who’s who of the conspirators behind the Detroit bankruptcy: Part three

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White, 27 November 2013

In this installment, the WSWS examines the role of the top trade union executives in the Detroit bankruptcy

Turkey giveaway draws hundreds in southwest Detroit

By WSWS reporting team, 27 November 2013

The scene, reminiscent of the soup or bread lines of the 1930s, speaks to the dire conditions facing working people in Detroit, America’s poorest big city

Detroit middle schooler dies after being electrocuted by downed power line

By Thomas Gaist, 26 November 2013

Malik Shelton, 14, is the latest victim of what can arguably be described as criminal negligence by utility giant DTE Energy.

Students, retirees campaign for workers’ inquiry into Detroit bankruptcy

By a WSWS reporting team, 25 November 2013

A campaign team in downtown Detroit won an enthusiastic response to the call for a workers’ inquiry into the attack on the Detroit Institute of Arts and the bankruptcy of the city.

Detroit emergency manager hands tens of millions of dollars to consulting firms

By Thomas Gaist, 23 November 2013

Even as Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is imposing brutal cuts in city workers’ pensions and health benefits, he is handing out at least $62 million in city revenues to private consultants.

New report exposes lies used to justify Detroit bankruptcy

By Thomas Gaist, 22 November 2013

A report issued Wednesday by the Washington DC-based liberal think tank Demos is a devastating refutation of the arguments used to throw the city of Detroit into bankruptcy.

Detroit bankruptcy forum backs attacks on pensions, DIA art

By Shannon Jones, 21 November 2013

At a public forum organized by the Detroit News, Democratic Party officials voiced support for the pro-corporate restructuring being carried out by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

“It’s capitalism, not democracy”

Detroit sanitation workers denounce privatization

By Thomas Gaist, 20 November 2013

Sanitation workers face layoffs and benefit cuts as Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr moves ahead with privatization plans.

Detroit Teenager in critical condition from shock from downed power line

By Thomas Gaist and Lawrence Porter, 19 November 2013

A 14-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition Monday after touching a fallen power line in West Detroit

A who’s who of the conspirators behind the Detroit bankruptcy: Part two

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White, 19 November 2013

Here are profiled Richard Baird, Governor Rick Snyder’s top political aide, federal Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the bankruptcy case, and Detroit Mayor David Bing.

Two firms selected to privatize Detroit trash collection

By J. Cooper, 18 November 2013

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s spokesman announced that two private companies will be awarded contracts for Detroit’s garbage pickup.

Water and Sewerage Department employees support Detroit Workers Inquiry

By James Brewer, 16 November 2013

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Departmen is a major target in the plunder of public assets under the auspices of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

”Art has a long term value which dwarves that of a quick, soon to be forgotten buck”

UK Royal Academy of Arts curator opposes sale of Detroit Institute of Arts artwork

15 November 2013

As part of the campaign opposing the closure of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the SEP (Britain) solicited this statement from Dr. Adrian Locke.

The Detroit bankruptcy trial

By Jerry White, 14 November 2013

Behind the façade of impartial justice, what has been discussed in the Detroit bankruptcy court is plain and simple: theft on a monumental scale.

Detroit’s Belle Isle to be leased to state, ending free access

By Thomas Gaist, 14 November 2013

A Michigan state financial assistance board voted Tuesday to approve the transfer of control over Belle Isle to the state government in Lansing.

A who’s who of the conspirators behind the Detroit bankruptcy

By Thomas Gaist, 13 November 2013

Two weeks of testimony in the Detroit bankruptcy case have exposed the pre-meditated character of the July 18 decision by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to initiate the largest municipal bankruptcy proceeding in US history.

Chrysler workers speak on inquiry into Detroit bankruptcy

By a WSWS reporting team, 11 November 2013

Workers at the Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant voiced support for the proposal for a workers inquiry in the bankruptcy of Detroit.

Closing arguments heard in Detroit bankruptcy case

By Thomas Gaist, 9 November 2013

Judge Stephen Rhodes is now set to make a decision as to whether the bankruptcy can proceed.

Governor’s chief operative takes stand in final day of testimony in Detroit bankruptcy trial

By Thomas Gaist, 8 November 2013

Richard Baird, a key player in the plot to throw Detroit into Chapter 9 bankruptcy, testified Thursday

Corporate cost-cutter Mike Duggan elected Detroit mayor

By Jerry White, 8 November 2013

The election attracted barely 25 percent of registered voters, meaning Duggan will take office with the support of only a tiny fraction of the city’s eligible voters.

Former Michigan state treasurer testifies in Detroit bankruptcy trial

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White, 6 November 2013

From the time Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed him treasurer in January 2011, Dillon, a Democrat and former investment banker, was the chief architect of the drive to throw Detroit into bankruptcy.

Detroit Bankruptcy at center of National Bankruptcy Judges conference

By Lawrence Porter, 5 November 2013

The national and constitutional implications of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was the central topic of discussion at the conference of bankruptcy judges in Atlanta, Georgia last week.

Emergency Manager Orr to Detroit pensioners: Your “rights are in bankruptcy now”

By Thomas Gaist, 5 November 2013

Cross examination of Orr further exposed the Jones Day law firm’s role in planning the bankruptcy of Detroit

For a Workers Inquiry into the Attack on the DIA and the Bankruptcy of Detroit!

Statement of the Socialist Equality Party

4 November 2013

The Socialist Equality Party and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality are organizing a Workers Inquiry as the next stage in the Battle of Detroit in opposition to the entire political establishment.

Emergency manager and Michigan governor follow Jones Day blueprint to gut pensions

By Shannon Jones, 31 October 2013

An article by Jones Day attorneys published in 2011 lays out a strategy to use the bankruptcy court to gut public employee pensions.

More testimony from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in Detroit bankruptcy case

By Thomas Gaist, 30 October 2013

Orr’s testimony underscored the fact that the main purpose of the bankruptcy filing is to carry out a massive confiscation of wealth from working people in Detroit.

Emergency manager, Michigan governor testify in Detroit bankruptcy case

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White, 29 October 2013

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Governor Richard Snyder testified about their roles in preparing the Chapter 9 filing during Monday’s trial.

Bankruptcy proceedings in Detroit: The looting of an American city

By Jerry White, 28 October 2013

A foul spectacle is being played out in bankruptcy court in Detroit that has ominous implications for workers throughout the United States and internationally.

Top banker, emergency manager testify in third day of Detroit bankruptcy trial

By Thomas Gaist, 26 October 2013

Day three of the bankruptcy hearings saw initial testimony from Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who described his appointment as “a call to action.”

Day two of Detroit bankruptcy hearings: Unions urge liquidation of city assets, including DIA

By Thomas Gaist, 25 October 2013

The city’s legal team concentrated on arguing that bankruptcy is legitimate and necessary, while the unions’ representatives continued to argue that bankruptcy should have been avoided by liquidating city assets.

Trial on Detroit bankruptcy begins

By Thomas Gaist and Jerry White, 24 October 2013

Attorneys representing the city and the unions made arguments during an unprecedented Chapter 9 case.

Driver sickout halts bus service in Detroit

By Shannon Jones, 22 October 2013

Detroit transit workers took off work Monday to protest a wide range of grievances, including assaults on drivers, cuts to pay and benefits and deteriorating service.

Detroit residents forced to wait hours for buses

By Debra Watson, 21 October 2013

The WSWS spoke to residents of Detroit about the disastrous state of the city’s public transportation system.

Union-backed mayoral candidate proposes selloff of DIA artwork

By Bryan Dyne, 19 October 2013

Former police chief and current mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon said he would sell the art at the DIA to prevent the layoff of police officers.

Emergency manager continues threat to “monetize” DIA art treasures

By Jerry White, 17 October 2013

Orr is expected to make a decision on selling the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts by next month.

Detroit emergency manager eliminates retiree health care benefits

By Jerry White, 16 October 2013

Nearly 20,000 retired municipal workers in Detroit will see their city-paid health benefits disappear as of January 1, 2014.

CBS “60 Minutes” report on Detroit: An apologia for Wall Street looting

By Shannon Jones, 16 October 2013

In so far as the report presents any explanation for the crisis in the city, it is to suggest that overly generous wages and benefits are to blame.

Obama backs Detroit bankruptcy

By Jerry White, 15 October 2013

The Obama administration has intervened to uphold the power of the federal bankruptcy court to gut the benefits of public employees and sell off public assets, including masterpieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Video: Auto workers defend Detroit Institute of Arts

15 October 2013

Chrysler and Ford workers voice their opposition to the threatened sale of art from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Video: Rally participants speak on the demonstration in defense of the DIA

10 October 2013

Workers and students spoke on their reasons for attending the “Defend the DIA” demonstration on October 4.

Endorsements for Defend the DIA campaign

10 October 2013

Messages of support for the campaign to defend the DIA.

Detroit firefighters call for defense of the DIA

By Thomas Gaist, 10 October 2013

Detroit firefighters voiced their approval for the Defend the DIA! demonstration organized by the SEP and discussed how the struggle against the emergency manager could be taken forward.

“Without the DIA we would not know anything about culture”

Workers and students speak out in defense of the DIA

By WSWS reporters, 8 October 2013

The WSWS is publishing more interviews from the hundreds of workers and youth who attended last Friday’s demonstration.

The significance of the rally to defend the Detroit Institute of Arts

By Joseph Kishore and David North, 7 October 2013

Hundreds of workers and youth attended the demonstration called by the Socialist Equality Party, in the first expression of mass opposition to the demands of Detroit’s emergency manager.

Video: Hundreds rally to defend the Detroit Institute of Arts

By Andre Damon, 7 October 2013

The demonstration, called by the Socialist Equality Party and International Youth and Students for Social Equality, gave expression to popular opposition to the dictates of Detroit’s emergency manager.

Downtown Detroit tenants rally to demand decent and affordable housing

By Betty Hayes, 7 October 2013

Tenant councils from downtown Detroit held a march and rally on Saturday to oppose the attacks on decent and affordable housing for veterans, seniors and the disabled.

Hundreds rally to oppose sale of art at the Detroit Institute of Arts

By Shannon Jones, 5 October 2013

Five hundred youth, workers, students, professionals and retirees from across the Detroit area expressed the mass opposition to the dictates of the city's emergency manager and the threat to loot the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Workers and young people at demonstration speak out in defense of the DIA

By Tim Rivers, 5 October 2013

Workers and young people spoke to the WSWS about why they had come to the demonstration.

Detroit emergency manager escalates threats against DIA art

By Shannon Jones, 4 October 2013

At a Detroit Economic Club luncheon, Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr reiterated his determination to sell DIA artworks to pay off the city’s creditors.

Downtown Detroit tenants facing eviction support demonstration to save the DIA

By Betty Hayes, 4 October 2013

Detroit residents facing eviction due to gentrification are sending a delegation to the October 4 demonstration.

”To sell off any of its assets is to rob us all!”

Endorsements flood in on eve of DIA demonstration

4 October 2013

Messages of support for the campaign to defend the DIA and the October 4 demonstration continue to come in from throughout the US and internationally.