Emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who took Detroit into bankruptcy, says the city will be on a "little bit of a diet for a while."
Detroit is cutting the pensions of general retirees by 4.5 percent, erasing $7 billion of debt and promising to spend $1.7 billion to demolish scores of dead buildings, improve public safety and upgrade basic services, among other key steps.
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The case concluded in just under 16 months, lightning speed by bankruptcy standards. The success was largely due to a series of deals between Detroit and major creditors, especially retirees who agreed to accept smaller pension checks after the judge said they had no protection under the Michigan Constitution.
No significant critics were left by early October. Bond insurers with more than $1 billion at stake repeatedly argued for the sale of valuable art but dropped that plea and settled for much less.
In response to the ruling, General Motors released a statement saying "Judge Rhodes' decision is historic and a validation for everyone who has been committed to Detroit. Working together, we can transform the city and you can see clear progress in the restoration of downtown, the entrepreneurs who are flocking here, the massive building projects getting underway and the work being done to improve education, neighborhoods and city services."
It took more than two years for a smaller city, Stockton, California, to get out of bankruptcy. San Bernardino, a California city smaller than Stockton, still is operating under Chapter 9 protection more than two years after filing.
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Rhodes had to accept Detroit's remedy or reject it in full, not pick pieces. His appointed expert, Martha "Marti" Kopacz of Boston, said it was "skinny" but "feasible," and she linked any future success to the skills of Mayor Mike Duggan and the city council and a badly needed overhaul of technology at city hall.
"The hard work really starts now," Maglan Capital President David Tawil told Reuters. "This was a piece of work, the financial compromise. But now the city needs to be seriously reinvigorated so that it doesn't find itself in a similar situation a number of years from now."