Detroiters demand that everything taken from them be given back. Now.
Film length: 7 minutes
Detroit, once a bastion of municipal jobs with strong unions, good pensions and benefits, has been under a transformation through “elected” officials to create a new kind of city policy. One in which tax money is funneled only to the friends of elected officials. What used to be blatantly illegal is now regular policy in Detroit. Taking city services out from under the direct control of a municipality takes many forms: private companies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, regional authorities, local authorities – all are being done in Detroit. The myth that this is cost effective only benefits the companies that get the contracts. A city that runs on contracts is wide open to vast corruption and unaccountable finances – Detroit is a textbook example as shown in this film.
Film length: 17 minutes
RESOURCES ABOUT DETROIT AND PRIVATIZATION
Predatory loans destroyed Detroit’s neighborhoods and bankers got off scot free. Hardest Hit funds from the federal government are being used to knock down houses, not save people’s homes in Detroit. Tax bills based on inflated assessments also take the homes. Arson is rarely investigated. At the same time, there is an urban plan, the Detroit Future City plan, which empties out most of Detroit for wind farms to power a white downtown and plans for canals for yachts. Detroiters experience their neighborhoods being destroyed everyday with foreclosures, school closings, bull dozers and arson, homeowners become renters as African American wealth is captured in foreclosures – a visible and painful reminder that racism is alive and well.
Film length: 1 hour 17 minutes
RESOURCES ABOUT DETROIT HOUSING, BLIGHT AND GENTRIFICATION
- Detroit Eviction Defense
- United Community Housing
- According to Foreclosure Detroit, from 2005 to October 2011 there were about 63,150 mortgage foreclosures in Detroit. Of course there are many more since then.
- In the US 49% of all loans to African Americans and 39% to Latinos were sub prime. Click to see infographic from ACLU
- According to The Hill, a lawsuit charged that just ONE of the subprime lenders victimized between 5,000 and 6,000 Detroit-area homeowners. The loans were made by a subprime lender that Morgan Stanley principally financed. The complaint charged that Morgan Stanley pushed the lender to make a large amount of extremely risky subprime mortgages…. “Mortgage lending data that shows black borrowers in Detroit were 70 percent more likely to get a subprime mortgage instead of a prime one, when compared to white borrowers.“
- How groups who insured the mortgage backed securities sued the banks.
- According to Foreclosure Detroit “Uncollected property taxes charged back when a property is unsold…rose to an estimated $55 million in 2010 and it may top $60 million in 2011.”
- The Detroit News: Half of Detroit Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes – Note the missing piece in this article of the banks’ role in owing any part of the 245 million owed in property taxes. See the Banks whose property ended up in the Wayne County 2012 tax auction.
- Detroit’s Foreclosure Meltdown
- According to the National Memo borrowers are being kicked out of their homes and then find themselves still responsible for property tax payments. “Banks choose not to finish the legal steps to foreclosure, leaving the properties vacant. Banks that walk away from homes do not have to notify the city, or even the borrower, that they have abandoned the foreclosure process. ” This is called a Bank Walkaway.
- Reduction in the amount of time to pay taxes from 5 years to 2 years, which started in 1999. State of Michigan Public Act 123 1999
- All about the very high amount Detroit property taxes are.
- Here is a map showing information about Detroit property foreclosure .
- Homes are being foreclosed on and bundled to be sold only to investors. Some people cannot even have access to the opportunity to get their home back! Who are the investors? They come from everywhere and are making a 40% profit.
- There is an unused Section 8 Home Ownership Program.
- The Michigan GOP Has Just Made It Easier For Scrappers To Steal From You
- The city of Detroit also has the highest property tax burden in the state. http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/04/jeff_guilfoyle_analysis_detroi.html
- Video: Vanessa Fluker discusses the state of foreclosures in Detroit and nationally today. (2010)
- Video: Vanessa Fluker Testifies in congress about foreclosures
GENTRIFICATION: DETROIT WORKS/DETROIT FUTURE CITIES
Detroit Works and Detroit Future City
20% of the world’s fresh water is in the Great Lakes and Detroit has a water treatment plant worth billions that processes that water. Detroit, a majority African American city, has been under attack for decades to privatize this precious resource. This film shows who is trying to privatize it, how the bankruptcy was used to move it toward privatization, and how mass water shut offs and inflated water prices affect impoverished Detroiters.
Film length: 40 minutes
Resources about Detroit and Water
Waiting for the bus in Detroit is often a test of will. The bus system eradicates many Detroiters’ chances for jobs and even hope. What do bus drivers think of the system? Listen to Fred Westbrook Jr., president of Detroit’s bus driver’s union, Amalgamated Transit Union, speak to the deplorable way the bus system is run and how it affects passengers and bus drivers. Appallingly, in the midst of bankruptcy, a 3 mile rail line along property belonging to the wealthiest in Michigan was pushed through using public money. Fred has a lot to say about that…
Film length: 13 minutes
Detroit’s schools’ issues are often portrayed in the media as being run into the ground by Detroiters. Rarely highlighted are the roles of contractors like John Rakolta and school privateers like Betsy DeVos. To them Detroit children have a value…$7,000 each from school funding. As Detroit schools are being dismantled to be chartered and education put on the stock market, Detroiters in the film speak to bond money and corruption on higher levels.
Film length – 25 minutes
Detroit was not “saved” by bankruptcy. In a right wing takeover, it was looted by banks and billionaires who stripped Detroiters of their rights. This film exposes the truth about the Detroit bankruptcy and the people involved. Detroit citizens and pensioners were abandoned by the justice system and local & state government and left to fight on their own. Hear from the
citizens and pensioners of Detroit how billions were stolen from them.
Film length – 57 minutes
RESOURCES ABOUT THE DETROIT BANKRUPTCY
- “Looting the Pension Funds” from Rolling Stone
- “Rhode Island Public Pension Reform: Wall Street’s License to Steal”
- Manhattan Institute’s Public Sector Inc.
- There are currently about 20,000 retirees and 10,000 people working. There are two pension funds, the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System. Police and Fire do not get social security when they retire.
- Here is an article about how a guy explaining about ALL the municipal pensions manipulates the numbers to make them look much worse. (Update: of course they fudged it. See this article:Analysis shows Detroit pension funds in better shape than Orr says )
- The Emergency Manager can be made the sole trustee of the pension fund. See the wording in Section 12(m) of the EM Law.
- ORR, MILLIMAN ATTACK ON DETROIT PENSIONS: ‘A VERY ROUGH PRELIMINARY GUESSTIMATE’
- Detroit Takes Aim at its Pensioners A good article about the whole situation.
- At the end of this article it speaks to how Orr can transfer the Detroit pension fund to the Michigan Public Employees Retirement Fund. Look at HOW underfunded that is.
- Pension fund accounting “error”. The City in 2012 FORGOT (?) to budget in 28 million dollars incurring an almost 2 million dollar late fee.
- In Embattled Detroit, No Talk of Sharing Pain June 2013
- Pension Funds Wary as Bankrupt City Goes to Trial About Stockton
- Bankrupt Stockton California pensioners vs. bondholders.
- Central Falls, Rhode Island pensioners ‘ treatment in bankruptcy. A must read about pensions and municipal bankruptcy. Another article about how bankruptcy steals from workers. Then how the city gave raises (or money to try to cover the losses they took) to the workers after the bankruptcy. Another article about their post-bankruptcy.BANKRUPTCY AND THE LIBOR SCANDAL
- An article in the LA Times explains all about the alleged interest rate rigging that may have gotten Detroit into a lot of financial trouble and how the FDIC sued them.
- This article, “Only Wall Street Wins” explains it in simple terms and how Detroit owed a 474 million dollar fee on bonds.
- Long term cost of bonds and the fees involved: “Interest Rate Swap Leaving Detroit Holding the Bag, EM Law for Banks to be Paid in Full.”
- The $1.5 billion pension deal with Universal Bank of Switzerland (UBS)
- The article “Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever” is a very accessible article about interest rate swaps and the current financial market challenges.
- According to an article from Bloomberg Businessweek in 2009, Detroit pays 4.2 million a month (all of our casino money) to pay Universal Bank of Switzerland for a debt that may be questionable at best.
- Chapter 9 Bankruptcy from the official US Courts website. “The purpose of chapter 9 is to provide a financially-distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. Reorganization of the debts of a municipality is typically accomplished either by extending debt maturities, reducing the amount of principal or interest, or refinancing the debt by obtaining a new loan.” Interesting to note that Chapter 9 is sort of feds hands-off – see why: ” The restrictions imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 904 are necessary to ensure the constitutionality of chapter 9 and to avoid the possibility that the court might substitute its control over the political or governmental affairs or property of the debtor for that of the state and the elected officials of the municipality.”
- Municipal Bankruptcy: An Overview
- What Happens When a City Declares Bankruptcy?
- Here is bankrupt Stockton’s webpage for citizens about their process.
- Here is Stockton’s “confidential neutral evaluation process used by the City to try and avoid bankruptcy, known as AB 506”.
- Detroit Driving Toward Its Own Debt Cliff old but interesting.
- A County in Alabama Strikes a Bankruptcy Deal Chase Bank gave up $842 million in the deal.
- Broke Cities Facts and Opinions on Municipal Bankruptcy in CaliforniaBANKRUPTCY: DETROIT FINANCIAL BASICS
- What are municipal bonds? Investors invest in a piece of a city’s debt and are promised interest in return. For simple but more detailed information visit the government’s investor web page about bonds. Another good beginner article is here.
- What is an interest rate swap and how have they hurt Detroit? This article explains it in simple terms and how Detroit owed a 474 million dollar fee on bonds.
- Interest Rate Swap Leaving Detroit Holding the Bag, EM Law for Banks to be Paid in Full.
- Universal Bank of Switzerland (UBS) pension bond – the 1.5 billion dollar monster pension bond – YIKES.
- How Libor (interest rate) rigging affected Detroit. Ethics and honesty are the things that protect future generations from unnecessary debt burden. This shows how adults have not been doing their jobs, neither in Detroit nor in the world. More about how it affected many cities. Here’s an interesting article asking why the EM isn’t looking into the money lost from the Libor rigging.
- What does Goldman Sachs have to do with Detroit? They “helped” Detroit sell their bonds in 2010. See the article below as well.
- How Wall Street doesn’t lose on bad swaps. According to this article Chase got 7.8 million in fees from Detroit. (2012) Read this one. The article explains how the city purchased auction-rate securities at a premium and is “paying a higher interest rate on the debt it sold to raise the money for the purchases. Trading in the bonds shows that the borrowing through a deal lead-managed by Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS) cost the city more than was necessary, because the price was too low.”
- State of Pay About Detroit’s municipal bonds, bond insurers, and the federal govt’s involvement in bonds – bond holders are looking to see if bonds will start defaulting everywhere. June 2013
- Swaps may be paid first over pensions. Jones Day (where the EM comes from) represents Bank of America. They backed up SBS on the swaps.
- Here is Moratorium Now’s analysis of Orr’s May report. They dispute many of his numbers.
- Bankruptcy and bonds. May 2013 More about bankruptcy and bonds. May 2013
- Sell Alert comparing the looks of Detroit to Beirut and advising bond sellers that they may have to “take a hit”.
- Detroit Issues Proposal for Creditors. An article differentiating what Orr classifies as secured and unsecured debt and how unconventional his plan is. For instance, classifying general obligation funds which have a full faith and credit pledge as unsecured.
- Who insures Detroit’s bonds? Here is one group. It explains why municipal bonds are good investments.
- Can you default on on your municipal bonds? What effect does it have? One opinion.
- This article gives an amusing description of the situation in Detroit between banks and the people here. Read the paragraph about local sovereignty and how they put democratic “rights” in quotation marks.
- Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever A very accessible article about interest rate swaps and the current financial market challenges.
- Free Press article Insurers, not mutual funds, would take the hit if Detroit debt goes bad
- Toledo Blade On brink of bankruptcy, Detroit suspends some debt payments
- An article from the Mackinac Policy Center explaining why they don’t want bankruptcy for Detroit. A must read.
- Alabama County Fights JPM-Chase & Gets Over 50% Taken Off Bond Debt
- This is an interesting article of how they will start selling small bonds in California and Massachusetts. Let’s see how that works out for them. If its good, there are some possibilities for Detroiters to invest in themselves.
BANKRUPTCY: STATE REVENUE SHARING
- $732 million dollars was diverted from Detroit’s revenue sharing according to the Michigan Municipal League.
- What is revenue sharing? “State revenue sharing is the process by which a portion of certain tax revenues imposed and collected by the State of Michigan are distributed to local units of government, including municipalities, as provided by State law. Currently, the State shares a portion of sales tax revenue with local governments.” (EXHIBIT 3 CITY OF DETROIT MAJOR REVENUES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007-2008 THROUGH FISCAL YEAR 2012-2013)
BANKRUPTCY: DETROIT TAX SYSTEM
- Detroit’s citizens are taxed more highly than in any other city of 50,000 or more in the state.
- Detroit taxes people who work here but do not live here, but often does not collect those taxes.
- Here is an article about how big corporations may owe taxes. Surprise that when they were interviewed they said no. LOL. Of course.
- The city took a $68 million loss in revenue sharing from 2010-2011 to 2011-2012.
- Why should there be revenue sharing? Here is an interesting perspective from the Roosevelt Institute.
The right to democracy has long been denied the citizens of Detroit through a corrupt voting system. 66,235 votes were too poorly secured to be recountable including all 44,215 of the city’s absentee votes in 2009. Thousands of ballots appeared to be in the same handwriting in 2013. Real investigations into these incidents have never taken place, which explains why the Detroit does not reflect the people who live there.
Elections Part 1 explores the politics of Wayne County, the county Detroit is in, the mayoral election of 2009/recount during which 66,235 votes were thrown out as un-recountable including all 44,215 of the city’s absentee votes, and the 2013 mayoral election primary.
Film length – 57 minutes.
Looting Detroit: Elections Part 1 Copyright 2016
Elections Part 2 explores; the 2013 mayoral primary recount where thousands of write-in votes appeared to be in the same handwriting, the “investigation” and general election issues.
Film length – 9 minutes.
Looting Detroit: Elections Part 2 Copyright 2016