County leaders react to Detroit's bankruptcy filing - KMSP-TV

County leaders react to Detroit's bankruptcy filing

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Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel
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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

The kind of history Detroit made Thursday hurts. Now some of the communities that surround the city are worried that some of their partnerships may soon be pried apart.

"Some of the assets we are concerned about ... are the ones that we actually are financially engaged with. Whether it's Cobo, whether it's the transit authority that was just created, the question is how do you finance that? But in more specific and more particular are the ones that have already been talked about -- Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as the zoo. We're paying millages from the suburbs to try to, I guess, sustain that and help grow it, and we're very supportive of it. Question becomes is this going to be part of that bankruptcy, and are they going to be dissolving that and selling off the assets? We are very concerned and going to be paying attention to that, and hopeful that ... doesn't get to that point," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Hackel had a sense that this day would soon come.

Oakland County Commissioner Bill Dwyer called this devastating and dire. It breaks his heart.

"The corruption in Detroit has been there for many, many years," he said. "I don't know exactly how it's going to affect Oakland County, Macomb County and the state, but I do know it's going to have a negative effect. To what degree only time will tell."

And more woes could be on the way by way of this bankruptcy.

"The two of us (Oakland and Macomb counties) share a AAA bond rating. That's unique. Only 67 counties in the country share that bond rating, only three in the State of Michigan. So we're fortunate we share that. That's helpful to the City of Detroit and to Wayne County," Hackel said.

If those ratings were to drop, Dwyer said, "It could affect the entire State of Michigan. I mean, interest rates are going to go up."

Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara works for the people of Detroit, and what lies ahead for them is the only thing that is on his mind.

"We just can't forget the 15,000 souls whose lives are protected by pension," he said. "We pray for them to remain whole."

"The largest city in the United States of America is in bankruptcy. So how are they going to get out of it?" Dwyer said. "You're not going to get out of it by merely taking the pensions away from retirees."

Dwyer spent most of his life in law enforcement serving and protecting citizens.

"I feel for those people that spent so much time putting their lives on the line. That's what it's all about," Dwyer said.

Hackel has a heavy heart for all of the city workers, as well. There is so much uncertainty and so many challenges before them.

"Challenging for those that are retirees," he said. "Now the question about promises made not being kept, even the current employees, the uncertainty that they have, but the certainty is the fact that the City of Detroit is going to be moving forward."

When asked what word comes to mind when they think about the present and the future of Detroit, Dwyer said "hope." Hackel is "hopeful," and McNamara said "rebirth."

All three men agree that what is going on in Detroit hurts a lot, and that pain may last awhile, but we must all remain optimistic that through that pain will come much opportunity.

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