Detroit Plans Massive Garage Sale

The Detroit Zoo's 'healthy, breeding female giraffe'? A classic Ford XD Cobra prototype? Belle Isle? Mark Stryker and John Gallagher look at some of the city-owned assets that could be sold to help pay off the city's monstrous debt.
June 3, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Mark Turnauckas

"If everything is indeed on the table when it comes to turning Detroit’s assets into dollars, then the possibilities are nearly endless, bewildering and sometimes bizarre," write Stryker and Gallagher.

"Detroit is teetering on the brink of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. The city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, and his team have said they want to evaluate everything owned by the city as they begin negotiations with creditors in the face of $15 billion to $17 billion in debt and future pension obligations."

"Orr already created a tsunami of controversy when he acknowledged late last month that billions of dollars worth of art owned by the city and housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts were vulnerable to creditors. But he potentially could sell or privatize numerous other city assets, too, from public parks to operations of the city’s Water and Sewerage Department to sundry treasures found in some of Detroit’s other cultural institutions."

"It’s important to note that selling individual assets won’t help much if Orr cannot bring city revenues and city expenses into line," add Stryker and Gallagher. "If city spending continues to outstrip revenues from taxes and other sources, selling DIA artwork — or zebras — merely would put off the day of reckoning for a few more months or years."

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Published on Sunday, June 2, 2013 in Detroit Free Press
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