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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R)
There may be a little bit of good news on the horizon for the city of Detroit:
Nine foundations, many with ties to Michigan — including the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — have pledged to pool the $330 million, which would essentially relieve the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts museum of its responsibility to sell some of its collection to help Detroit pay its $18 billion in debts. In particular, the foundation money would help reduce a portion of the city’s obligations to retirees, whose pensions are at risk of being reduced in the bankruptcy proceedings. By some estimates, the city’s pensions are underfunded by $3.5 billion.

As part of the plan, which negotiators have been working on quietly for more than two months, the museum would be transferred from city ownership to the control of a nonprofit, which would protect it from future municipal financial threats. The foundations would stipulate that Detroit must put the money into its pension system, said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation.

Whether having charitable foundations involved in this way is a good precedent is open for debate, but protecting the pensions of Detroit's workers, at least a little, and keeping the city's art from being sold off are both good ends. But $330 million isn't all that's needed, and in an editorial, the Detroit Free Press pressures the state to do the right thing:
Sources told the Free Press that the state might contribute as much as $100 million, over 10 or 20 years, but state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder, thus far, have been less than full-throated.

And that won’t do. [...]

The pledges made by the foundations are contingent upon whether the total sum amassed is sufficient to shore up the city’s pension funds, and that’s a determination only Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, creditors and mediators can make, the heads of four of the foundations leading the effort told the Free Press on Monday. But without a state contribution, the foundation heads said, it’s difficult to imagine the pot of cash reaching that tipping point.

It's definitely never a good idea to bet on Gov. Rick Snyder doing anything to help Detroit or public workers, let alone both together. But maybe the involvement of major foundations will create a little pressure on Snyder among people he actually does care about.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 01:26 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Promising, but far from settled or solved. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, johnny wurster, peregrine kate

    Culture journalist Lee Rosenberg points out a few potential problems:

    Bear in mind, though, that if you join the approximately 130 who have already contributed to the above-linked fund and the Grand Bargain doesn’t pan out, your money will go to “support other charitable programs and public charities that will benefit the City of Detroit’s retirees, cultural heritage, financial health and revitalization,” according to the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s website. If your sole goal is to protect the DIA’s art, that could be a problem.
    John Gallagher and Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press provide some caveats:
    U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen’s statement made clear that the pledges do not by themselves mean that pensions and DIA art are now beyond the reach of creditors. Rather, the commitments are intended and expected to play a part in what Rosen’s statement called “an overall balanced settlement of disputes in the bankruptcy.”
    In other words, there is no deal until all the various claims in the broader bankruptcy case have been settled. And the foundations’ support is contingent upon all their money [emphasis added] going to support the twin goals of helping fill the unfunded gap in Detroit’s municipal pension obligations and protecting the DIA art collection from possible sale to pay the city’s creditors.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 01:46:18 PM PST

  •  the foundations can't earmark those funds. (0+ / 0-)

    The procceds of any sale would go to the bankruptcy estate to be divided in accordance with the court approved plan.

  •  Michigan needs its own Monuments Men to save (0+ / 0-)

    the artwork from Snyder's looters

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 02:25:04 PM PST

  •  Pensions Now Funded As Charities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:07:31 PM PST

  •  I could totally see the vultures (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, moose67, rainmanjr

    snapping up that donation, selling all the artwork anyway, then screwing over the employees and retirees just as much as they had planned to originally.

    Republican threats amount to destroying the present if we don't allow them to destroy the future too. -MinistryOfTruth, 1/1/2013

    by sleipner on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 06:14:46 PM PST

  •  Turning USA into a charity (0+ / 0-)

    This kind of thing seems to back-up the GOP meme that charity will kick in and help those who need helping so we don't need costly govt assistance programs.  But is that charity sustainable or reliable?  Probably not.  But so long as such actions alleviate any need or pain then the public will begin to count on them.  That's where we're headed.  

    "If it takes all night / that'll be alright / if I can get you to smile before I leave." Jackson Browne

    by rainmanjr on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:42:22 PM PST

  •  I doubt the republicans will allow this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It reeks of morality.

  •  What about the banks? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Shouldn't the banks make a charitable contribution to save the city's art institute?
    Time for the finance sector to take a stand for the community!
    Right, everyone?
    We know its those credit default swap deals that pushed the city toward disaster, as they have done in so many other
    municipalities and pension funds across the country.
    Time for a change.
    Let's call for the banks to make enough matching grants
    to save the the community they have brought to its knees.

  •  From a distance, Michigan seems all fucked up... (0+ / 0-)

    And that's what Rick Snyder looks like? He's been hiding under a rock for too long. Needs some sunshine.
    Talk about a slithering low profile.

    Good luck out there.

  •  Are pensioners having to give up anything? (0+ / 0-)

    There have been some stories about the ridiculously high pensions from the City of Detroit that have been said to be the primary reason the city became broke in the first place.  Is there a give-take in this?  

    •  Bedtime Stories (0+ / 0-)
      There have been some stories about the ridiculously high pensions from the City of Detroit that have been said to be the primary reason the city became broke in the first place.
      Yeah, and there are stories about ghosts, leprechauns, alien abductions, and things that go bump in the night. I prefer to deal in facts.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:47:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and Benton Harbor had a park (0+ / 0-)

    They've decided to loot Detroit and loot it they will. FSM, these people are vile.

  •  I hope it works out, (0+ / 0-)

    but the Right's money-men are determined to loot Detroit for everything it's got - and they won't stop here.

    "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

    by Australian2 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 03:36:53 AM PST

  •  Most art museums are run by private non-profits (0+ / 0-)

    Even the National Gallery of Art has its own Board and fundraising.

    I can well imagine that there are wealthy people and foundations that would be happy to fund an art museum, but would no way be willing to dump money into an unrestricted municipal general fund that seems to be hemorrhaging from several orifices.

    This seems like a reasonable solution to me, to remove the museum and its contents from the conversation, while preserving it as a cultural asset. It is definitely better than selling off the artwork a piece at a time to wealthy individuals in China, Japan, Brazil, or wherever.

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