Should Detroit have filed for bankruptcy?
If you ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who presided over Detroit's historical bankruptcy, the answer is not only a resounding yes, but he thinks the city should have done it much sooner.
“I was actually of the opinion that Detroit should have filed bankruptcy years before it actually did and I expressed that in one of my opinions.," he told WDET's Laura Weber-Davis and Sandy Svoboda in a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday.
"The city’s slide into bankruptcy began really decades before. With the decline of the auto industry, with the migration of the auto industry, with the decline of population, with the racial issues and tensions. It’s for me to judge that one particular transaction contributed to it.”
He explained why he involved individuals in the proceedings and gave them a say.
“Many of the people in the city of Detroit were angry about the filing. They felt their city had been taken away from them, that their democracy was taken away from them. They were also suffering from grossly inadequate municipal services, and so I felt it was important to give these people a voice in this progress.”
Rhodes, who is officially retiring on Wednesday, also talked why he held hearings on Detroit's controversial water shutoffs.
“It weighed on me very heavily … this was a very serious problem. That people obviously need water to survive and I was concerned that the city’s response was not adequate. … When a judge feels and sees injustice, I believe that a judge has the responsibility to do what he or she can about it. … That doesn’t mean in that every circumstance the can solve the problem. Sometimes there are practical reasons why he or she can’t, sometimes there are legal reasons. I felt that by calling out the water department and asking to speak personally with the decision makers and highlighting this problem in open court with the full attention of the media on the issue, I was doing what I could, even if I didn’t have jurisdiction to deal with it.”