Detroit's officially bankrupt, what's next?

Dec 4, 2013

Credit Flickr - James Marvin Phelps

Yesterday, after months of speculation, the most pressing question hanging over the city of Detroit was answered.  Following nine days of hearings, Federal Judge Stephen Rhodes declared that the beleaguered city is indeed eligible for Chapter Nine bankruptcy protection.

The ruling means that the unpredictable process of unloading $18-billion in long-term debt, some of which is constitutionally owed to city retirees, can begin.

Current State spoke with attorney Ryan Plecha and Chad Livengood of the Detroit News. Plecha is an attorney who represents two associations of city retirees, one comprised of former police and fire fighters; the other is non-uniformed workers.

Plecha says the presidents of the associations he represents weren't surprised by the ruling, but they were dissappointed that the judge likened pension benefits to mere contracts.

Chad Livengood covered the announcement yesterday at the Coleman Young Federal Building. He says the argument that is likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court is the question of whether or not a pension is a property right, or a contractual right.