I wrote about this pivotal moment in Pacific Standard, drawing from the remarkable on-the-ground reporting by the folks at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press -- who are truly doing holy work in chronicling one of the most important American stories of our generation.
Here's an excerpt from my #2 in my take:
(Dissenters) suggest that the city should first sell its assets—such as artwork in the extraordinary Detroit Institute of Arts—to pay down debt before cutting contracts and benefits. Last week, the city’s largest creditors asked (Judge Steven) Rhodes to order an independent evaluation of the DIA’s prized collection, in addition to the appraisal by Christie’s, the auction house, commissioned by the city. Both moves were strenuously objected to by the museum, its peer institutions, and many thousands of supporters in Detroit and beyond. As Philip Kennicott put it in the Washington Post, Detroit is compelling many of us to make a Platonic case for why “the nurturing of the mind and the care of the soul aren’t secondary or tertiary niceties, they are at least equally important to the other basic needs the city meets,” and that makes art an essential civic asset.
The asset-selling argument contrasts with the plan (Emergency Manager Kevyn) Orr put forward in June, which rather radically prioritized paying city services over paying unsecured creditors, who were offered settlements of about 10 cents on the dollar. There are likely to be common threads between that plan and the post-ruling restructuring plan that the city will put forward this month.
For his part, Rhodes noted today that a one-time infusion of cash by selling the DIA’s assets would not fix things for Detroit in the long-term and, instead, would only delay failure.
I also spoke about the national implications of Detroit's bankruptcy on WBAL Radio in Baltimore. Listen to our conversation on Maryland's News Now here.