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    Things You Didn't Know About Detroit's Historic Bankruptcy

    Nathan Bomey, author of a new book on the largest Chapter 9 filing in U.S. history, reveals the unsung heroes and true timeline of the event.
    BY  JUNE 16, 2016

    Nearly three years ago, Detroit's $18 billion bankruptcy -- the largest municipal Chapter 9 filing in American history -- captured the nation's attention. Detroit, like so many other Rust Belt cities, had suffered from decades of economic decline, as well as shrinking economic support from the state; mismanagement from city leaders that hurt the public trust and shattered finances; and the exodus of more affluent and generally white residents to the suburbs.

    These effects and more are captured in the new book Detroit Resurrected. It's the first book to extensively chronicle the city's story into and out of bankruptcy, and it's written by journalist Nathan Bomey, who was the Detroit Free Press' lead reporter on the city's bankruptcy and is currently a writer at USA Today. Bomey, who spoke with Governing about the book, based it not only on his extensive reporting at the time but also on revealing and frank post-bankruptcy interviews with key players.

    The following interview is edited for length and clarity.

    I didn't know until reading your book that bankruptcy was being talked about in Detroit several years before 2013.

    It was. In Detroit, the promises to retirees were actually broken many years before the bankruptcy process. I think the problem was [that by the time bankruptcy was considered], political leaders didn't really have the political will to make the tough decisions to avoid this type of process. So they put it off. And one factor in Detroit's bankruptcy that has been widely misunderstood is that the emergency manager law was uniquely tailored to make a bankruptcy go fast. Kevyn Orr got the job about four months before the city ultimately filed for bankruptcy. I think looking back on it, most people would agree that by the time he was installed, bankruptcy was probably inevitable.

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