Gross: Detroit has a new lease on life

Ken Gross

Detroit filed bankruptcy and has emerged from it some 16 months later.

I recognize there are many shortcomings of the bankruptcy, including the loss of insurance benefits for city workers, lost COLA benefits to pensioners and the losses sustained by thousands who in good faith performed services on behalf of the city and were left with an empty or near-empty glass in the end.

It is not difficult to view the glass as half or more empty. On the other hand, there are many positives that, to me, render this glass more than half full. Most civil lawsuits are not completed in 15 months. For the largest municipal bankruptcy to be completed in that time frame is nothing short of a miracle. The credit goes to Judge Steven Rhodes.

Lawyers are never in a hurry. In the case of this bankruptcy — with a potentially endless trough for lawyers to dip into — credit must be given to the judge for “getting it done.” The scope of the proceeding, the issues, the consequences, were all of major magnitude, and the ability to see all of it through on such a timeline is an amazing feat.

Do you recall the pictures of Detroit in the media after the filing? Every picture was of a burned-out and blighted building.

Looking online on Friday, at The New York Times, the picture was an aerial view of the downtown with the river, GM (Renaissance Center) and Cobo Center in view. It was a picture of a substantial metropolis. That says a lot.

Credit must go out to our city’s business and municipal leaders — Dan Gilbert, the Ilitch family, Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan and the countless others whose efforts gave rise to the grand bargain and a new look and feel for Detroit.

It is true that emerging from bankruptcy is the beginning for a new future — not the time to declare victory. Even so, credit must be given because Detroit now has a future.

In the 1968 baseball season, I remember, it was “Go Get ‘Em, Tigers.” Now it’s “Go Get ‘Em, Detroit!”

Ken Gross is a bankruptcy attorney with Thav Gross and host of “Law and Reality,” which airs weekly at 8:30 on Saturday mornings on WDFN 1130 AM, “The Fan,” and 11 a.m. Sundays on TV20.