Update: Detroit Doomsday Clock Moves Forward; It's Now 11 Minutes To Midnight
On Tuesday, Deadline Detroit introduced its Detroit Doomsday Clock, which will track the city’s ongoing struggle to remain solvent. The clock initially was set for 13 minutes to midnight, midnight being the point when the city treasury runs bare, a.k.a. bankruptcy.
In brief, the city failed to meet milestones agreed to by Mayor Dave Bing and state Treasurer Andy Dillon to free up escrowed funds.
The reason for the failure is the Detroit City City Council on Tuesday refused to approve a contract with the Miller Canfield law firm for legal services related to the city's fiscal restructuring. As a result, the state said it was withholding $10 million in bond funds intended to help the city through a short-term cash crunch.
On Wednesday, Bing said he would meet the cash crunch by ordering payless furlough days for city workers who are not employed in public safety.
The clock is modeled after the Doomsday Clock of the directors of the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Since 1947 the scientists have maintained a metaphorical clock that tracks the world’s path toward nuclear Armageddon.
In recent years, the clock also has reflected dangers in climat change and biosecurity. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the world is to global catastrophe.
A bankruptcy by Michigan’s largest city would have wide-reaching effects. Beyond the damage to the reputations of the city, region and state, officials have speculated financial failure could harm the ability of other governments to float bonds and conduct business as usual. Bankruptcy certainly would not be good for Detroit residents, business owners or city employees.
But the clock is ticking.