Wayne State University's Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society is expected to present on Thursday "Bankruptcy: What does it mean for the city? Voices from Other Places," the story of other communities that are in or emerging from significant financial stress up to and including bankruptcy.
Detroit is not the first American municipality to seek protection under Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code — just the largest and most recent. Since 2010, FOCIS said more than a half-dozen municipalities have traveled the same rocky path.
"We once were known as the Paris of the Midwest," said Irvin D. Reid, director of FOCIS and inaugural holder of Wayne State's Eugene Applebaum Chair in Community Engagement. "For decades, we were the destination of thousands of immigrants. We earned worldwide fame as the motor city. Now, we're the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history."
FOCIS says one panel will feature elected officials and an educator whose cities went through the anguish of bankruptcy. They were the mayors, commissioners, council members or candidates who supported or opposed such a drastic step.
Others on the panel are now managing their cities' transitions under the burden of bankruptcy, according to FOCIS.
The second panel comprises advocates for the various players in those municipalities. They were the lawyers who represented the pensioners, bondholders, city officials, ordinary citizens and the municipalities themselves in federal court. FOCIS said they are the few experts in this relatively new area of law, for what is known as Chapter 9 clearly is different from other forms of bankruptcy.
"It is too late to wonder how that happened," Reid added about Detroit's municipal bankruptcy. "What matters now is what bankruptcy will mean for the city, its citizens and its rebirth. Our panels of experts will explore what we can and should not expect, and what steps we can take to bring our city through this dangerous time in its history."
The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at WSU's Law School, located at 471 W. Palmer in Detroit.
The event is free and open to the public. However, FOCIS said seating is limited and reservations are required. RSVP at focis.wayne.edu site in the events box, or call 313-577-0300.
For more information about FOCIS and the "Voices from Other Places" event, click here.