Category: Community Written by Bill Nowling
City issued $1.44 billion of new debt in the form of Pension Obligation Certificates (COPS) to fund its two financially strapped retirement systems and negotiates a 30-year repayment schedule. City agrees, in effort to make COPS more attractive to investors, to “swap” a fixed interest rate for a variable one. The city would benefit if market rates increased, but would have to pay more if rates fell.
City issues $250 million in bond debt in attempt to stabilize budget
City begins 7-year run of posting at least $150 million annual deficits. Cumulative deficits during that time equaled $1.38 billion (2005-2011)
“There have been deficits in the general fund that exceed $100 million dating back to 2005. These deficits have fluctuated between over $155 million and over $300 million. One of the primary methods the City has used to reduce the deficits has been to issue more debt.” (Preliminary Review of the City of Detroit, Michigan Depart of Treasury. City’s Exhibit 21.)
November 2008 to March 2009 – Federal Reserve begins Quantitative Easing (QE1); holds $1.75 trillion of bank debt, mortgage-backed securities, and Treasury notes by March 2009. With QE1 – which sets short-term interest rates to near zero – and the expanding recession, interest rates begin to fall dramatically.
January – Interest rates fall dramatically in wake of national recession. These changes in rates will require the City to pay an addition a$1.14 billion in interest and “hedging derivatives” as part of the COPS and SWAPs agreements.
June 15 - To avoid defaulting on COPS and SWAP and having to make a lump-sum termination payment of up to $400 million, the City enters into a Collateral Agreement that pledges casino wagering tax revenue to cover future payments. The City loses control of this revenue, estimated at $11 million a month, creating additional risk to the City’s ability to pay its bills and meet cash-flow demands. (City’s Exhibit 21.)
The City continues to experience severe cash-flow shortages.
To offset this, the City receives $250 million in fiscal stabilization bonds, $55 million in delinquent property tax receipts from Wayne County and $20 million from the DTE Escrow account. Despite this, the City still has a negative cash-flow. (City’s Exhibit 21.)
City continues to rack up debt without a deficit reduction plan
The City further balloons its deficit by borrowing $447 million in interfund loans where the City “borrows” from specific budgetitems to fund others. This is an accounting gimmick used to “create” a budget surplus on paper but in reality a budget deficit still exists. (City’s Exhibit 21.)
Audit report of City pension plans show questionable balances.
The auditors were unable to obtain sufficient evidence supporting approximately $216 million of the funds’ alternative investments (loans and direct investments). (City’s Exhibit 21.)
December 21 – Preliminary Review I: Recommends Financial Review Team
“…[B]ased upon the information received and considered as part of the preliminary review – including the inability of the City to avoid fund deficits, recurrent accumulated deficit spending, severe projected cash flow shortages resulting in improper reliance on inter-fund and external borrowing, the lack of funding of the City’s other post-retirement benefits and the increasing debt of the city – I conclude that probable financial stress exists in the City of Detroit and recommend appointment of a financial review team. Appointment of a financial review team is a prerequisite step in the Act 4 process to the appointment of an emergency manager.. (City’s Exhibit 21.)
2012 January – Governor Synder appoints Detroit Financial Review Team
March 26 – FRT finds “severe financial distress”
April 4 – Consent agreement enacted
To avoid the declaration of a financial emergency, the City enters into a Financial Stability Agreement (Consent Agreement) with the State of Michigan that outlines reforms and budgetary changes the City must make. The agreement is signed by Governor Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing and then-Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis. The Consent Agreement requires the City to: produce a 3-year revenue and expenditure forecast; 21 specific Operational Reforms; a revenue estimating and budget approval calendar; and, begin implementing new collective bargaining agreements that realistically meet the City’s fiscal realities. (Financial Stability Agreement, Doc 11-5, 13-53846.)
November 13 –Detroit Reform Program
To access cash stabilization bond proceeds from the State of Michigan, the City agrees to a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines certain requirements and specific milestones it must meet. This is known as the Detroit Reform Program and is signed by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, City Finance Director Cheryl Johnson, Program Manager Kriss Andrews and CFO Jack Martin. Detroit City Council agrees with and unanimously approves purchasing goals set out in the MOU. It calls for, among other things:
· The hiring of a Restructuring firm to advise the City’s Program Management Office;
· The selection of a consulting firm to review and make recommended improvements to each city department and its operations;
· Retain a Workers Compensation firm to advise on savings, efficiencies and workplace safety improvements;
· Improve City Purchasing and Contracting process;
· Hire Detroit-based Miller Canfield as outside legal counsel to support Reform Program
· Implementation of a new, privatized payroll processing contract by Nov. 30, 2012;
· Streamline process for demolition of blighted and abandoned buildings; and,
· The overhaul and restructuring of the City’s police, fire, tax collection, finance, permitting, grant administration and bus departments.
December – Preliminary Review II finds “severe financial problem,” recommends the appointment of a financial review team as a prerequisite step in the Act 72 process to appointment of an emergency manager”
February 19 – DRT report: City is in a “financial emergency”
March 1 – Governor confirms DRT report and informs Mayor and City Council:
· “severe financial emergency” exists and the City has no satisfactory plan to resolve the problem
· Governor makes specific, numerous findings of fact re: the nature of the emergency and past practices
March 25 – Emergency Financial Manager appointed under Public Act 72
March 28 – Emergency Manager reappointed under Public Act 436
May 12 – Financial and Operating Plan submitted as required under PA 436
June 10 – Public meeting on Financial and Operating Plan, as required under PA 436
June 14 – City of Detroit Proposal to Creditors released; creditors and stakeholders afforded 30 days to submit counter proposal or enter into negotiations
July 3 – Flowers v. Michigan, No. 13-729-CZ
July 3 – Webster v. Michigan, No. 13-734-CZ
July 5 – City seeks and receives injunctive relief to allow it to keep casino tax and development revenue currently held by SWAP investment insurer SYNCORA
July 17 – GRS v. Orr/Snyder, No. 13-768-CZ
July 18 – City of Detroit files for Chapter 9 federal bankruptcy protection citing insolvency, staggering debt, growing lawsuits from counterparties, and impracticality of negotiations with nearly 48 bargaining units, 53 municipal debt creditors and tens of thousands of individual creditors.
July 18-22 – Abovementioned Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief to halt restructuring effort.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 04:34
Category: Community Written by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Over the past three weeks, millions of you have visited HealthCare.gov to see the health coverage options available on the new Health Insurance Marketplace. This tremendous response confirms that the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage.
To help meet consumer demand, you may have heard that there are four ways to apply for health coverage through the Marketplace. Besides going online, you can use a paper application. You can visit a trained assistor in your community. And you can call our Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to apply for health insurance and enroll over the phone, 24/7 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
At the Call Center, we’ve had over 1.6 million calls. When the President spoke on Monday, we handled over 120,000 calls over the day, our second highest day so far. And average wait times for calls is less than 30 seconds, and 3 minutes for chats.
To help you with enrolling and accessing coverage, we’ve increased Call Center staffing, and we now have more than 10,000 trained customer service representatives ready and able to handle your calls. I recently had the pleasure of meeting some of our representatives in Tampa and, today, in Phoenix. Every member of our Call Center staff is trained to help answer your questions about applying, and I was impressed by their expertise and their enthusiasm.
Whether you just have a question, or are ready to enroll in quality, affordable health coverage, our Call Center representatives can give you the information and assistance you need and want. Call today at 1-800-318-2596. Help is just a phone call away.
And just in case you missed updates from earlier this week:
The following blog was posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013, at http://www.hhs.gov/digitalstrategy/blog/2013/10/how-were-improving-healthcare-gov.html
More on how We’re Improving HealthCare.gov
By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Over the last few days, we’ve shared updates with you on our tech surge and the steps we’re taking to ensure that HealthCare.gov gets better. Starting tomorrow and moving forward, we will also provide updates through regular blogs and CMS press telebriefings. We know how critical affordable health coverage is, and as I’ve committed, we won’t stop improving the site until every American who wants it gains access to these new options for care.
Today, we wanted to share an infographic that provides a snapshot of where we are—including technical issues we’re addressing and solutions that our team is putting into place to improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov. Please take a moment to look and feel free to share the graphic with anyone you know that may have questions about the site in your own social networks.
We are committed to continuing to update you on our progress as we improve the site. As always, your feedback is critical to this process. Please feel free to submit comments about your experience, either complimentary or critical, at https://www.healthcare.gov/connect/.
The following blog was posted Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at http://www.hhs.gov/digitalstrategy/blog/2013/10/technology-surge-for-healthcare-gov.html
A Technology Surge for HealthCare.gov
By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Today, we are announcing key steps the Department is taking as part of a tech surge to continue to improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov.
First, I am very pleased to announce we are bringing management expert and former CEO and Chairman of two publicly traded companies Jeff Zients on board to work in close cooperation with our HHS team to provide management advice and counsel to the project. Jeff has led some of the country’s top management firms, providing private sector companies around the world with best practices in management, strategy and operations. He has a proven track record as Acting Director at the Office of Management and Budget and as the nation’s first Chief Performance Officer. Working alongside our team and using his rich expertise and management acumen, Jeff will provide short-term advice, assessments and recommendations.
We’ve also brought in additional experts and specialists drawn from within government, our contractors, and industry, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies. These reinforcements include a handful of Presidential Innovation Fellows. This new infusion of talent will bring a powerful array of subject matter expertise and skills, including extensive experience scaling major IT systems. This effort is being marshaled as part of a cross-functional team that is working aggressively to diagnose parts of HealthCare.gov that are experiencing problems, learn from successful states, prioritize issues, and fix them.
In addition to our efforts to ramp up capacity and expertise with the country’s leading innovators and problem solvers, we have secured additional staff and commitments from our contractors, including CGI, the lead firm responsible for the federally facilitated marketplace technology. They are providing and directing the additional resources needed for this project within the provisions of their existing contract.
We will continue to keep you updated on our progress on improving HealthCare.gov. As we work to fix the site, we encourage Americans to continue to sign up for quality affordable coverage in four ways: by phone, online, by-mail and in person. Millions of Americans are already benefitting from the law, through increased benefits like preventative care at no additional costs and drug discounts for seniors. We believe the product of the law – affordable health insurance – is good, but we won’t stop until every American who wants it gains access to these new options for care.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 04:27
Category: Community Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Avoid injuries, costume mishaps, traffic accidents
SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN— With Halloween right around the corner, the American Red Cross would like everyone to stay safe when they don their costumes and go out to Trick-or-Treat.
Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and traffic accidents, so the Red Cross is offering the following tips to help make this Halloween safe:
· Look for flame-resistant costumes.
· Plan the Trick-or-Treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
· Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
· Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
· Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, consider using face paint.
· Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
· Be cautious around pets and any other animals.
WELCOMING GHOSTS AND GOBLINS If someone is welcoming Trick-or-Treaters at their home, they should make sure the outdoor light is on. Other safety steps include:
· Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
· Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
· Restrain any household pets.
· Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.
LEARN WHAT TO DO People can download the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Features of the app include:
· Step-by-step instructions on how to handle the most common first aid situations;
· Videos and animations that make the skills easy to learn;
· Safety and preparedness tips; and
· Quizzes that users can take to earn badges which they can share with their friends on social media.
People can find all of the Red Cross apps in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 04:10
Category: Community Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
WEST BLOOMFIELD HALLOWEEN CANDY DRIVE TO FEATURE FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES:
FACE PAINTING, DOOR PRIZES, A RADIO PERSONALITY AND MORE.
(DRS. WARREN AND AMIRA WOODRUFF ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (West Bloomfield, MI) – October 21, 2013) — Orchard Maple Family Dental expands its outreach, partnering with local businesses to offer a memorable Halloween Buyback event for every member of the family November 1 and 2. Face painting, door prizes and even Dr. William Woodruff's favorite radio personality will greet guests as they stop by to drop off their candy for U.S. soldiers serving overseas in conjunction with Operation Gratitude (www.operationgratitude.com).
"We are thrilled that the neighboring businesses have shown such generous support, " said Dr. Warren Woodruff, general dentist at OMFD and event marketing director. "This year's growing sponsor list includes Tapper's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Powerhouse Gym West Bloomfield, Whole Foods West Bloomfield, Face Flair, Noodles & Company and Zoe's House of Pancakes."
In sync with the OMFD philosophy of aligning good nutrition with optimum dental care, Whole Foods West Bloomfield will kick off the festivities on Friday, November 1, providing healthy snacks for guests to enjoy as they wait in line and weigh their candy contributions. Their generosity does not end there. A raffle will take place on Saturday, November 2, of which Whole Foods West Bloomfield has contributed multiple items.
For all of the mothers accompanying trick-or-treaters, Tapper's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry is raffling silver disc earrings valued at $99. With hopes of including all of the fathers and brothers in attendance, Zoe's House of Pancakes is providing breakfast on a first-come, first-serve basis to Halloween Buyback supporters onsite at OMFD starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 2nd.
After enjoying all of the pancakes and french toast (Zoe's House of Pancake's), one might feel pressured to exercise off those calories. For figure-conscious attendees, Powerhouse Gym West Bloomfield is raffling off a three-month membership valued at $119. And for all of the kids and young at heart in attendance, Face Flair is offering their best designs for everyone to go home happy.
There is still time to contribute to the cause. "We’re currently seeking additional sponsors to cover the candy shipping and weighing costs, which exceeded $500 last year," said Dr. Amira May Woodruff, general dentist at OMFD and event sponsorship coordinator.
Interested companies are encouraged to call or e-mail Dr. May Woodruff directly for sponsorship details. The sponsorship deadline is Friday, October 25.
CANDY DROP-OFF HOURS*:
Friday, November 1st: 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 2nd: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
*Candy donors will receive $1 per each donated pound of unopened treats. There is a five-pound maximum.
Visitors to the newly renovated, family-operated practice will receive healthy snacks, new toothbrushes, oral health tips, a prize from the toy box and one dollar for each pound of donated unopened candy. Trick or-treaters are welcome to bring greeting cards of their own for the soldiers or create personalized cards onsite at OMFD.
For more than 38 years, Dr. William H. Woodruff has served the Detroit Metropolitan community along with his dedicated staff, many who have worked alongside him for more than 20 years. Now joined by his son Dr. Warren E. Woodruff and daughter-in-law, Dr. Amira May Woodruff, a resurgence of new ideas, state-of-the-art equipment, family values and continued commitment welcome the diverse patients who walk through the doors daily.
The OMFD mission is to provide exemplary dental care to adults and children by treating patients like they would treat our own families. By offering high quality service in a gentle and caring atmosphere, OMFD bases its measure of success on the quality of the relationship staff members enjoy with each patient.
Orchard Maple Family Dental is located at 6280 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. For office hours and more information, including a health & nutrition blog, visit www.omfdental.com, call (248) 851-2876 or follow us on Facebook @www.facebook.com/omfdental and Twitter @ www.twitter.com/omfdental.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 04:15
Category: Community Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
DETROIT - The Public Lighting Authority (PLA) of Detroit said today a block-by-block review of street lights in two Detroit neighborhoods has identified nearly 45 percent of the street lights in those two areas of the city that are not working.
The survey was the first phase of two pilot projects that the authority launched as it begins its work to provide reliable street lights in the city. A total of 4,939 lights were surveyed in the two areas, with 2,211, 44.8 percent, not working.
PLA Executive Director Odis Jones said information from the review will be used to design new street lighting for both areas. He said construction and installation of the new lights will begin in early November.
“Before we could develop a plan to renovate the city’s street lights, it was critical that we have accurate, up-to-date information on the system as it exists today,” said Jones. “Since the most current data was 15 years old, that made it necessary to go out and survey the condition of every single light.
“The survey has provided us with specific information about the condition of every single street light in both project areas. This will enable us to design the best lighting plan for each area as we move forward to give the citizens of Detroit the lighting they deserve. We are working in these two areas as a prelude to moving out into the rest of the city to completely restore street lighting over the next three years.”
Jones said the east side demonstration project, comprised of an area with boundaries of Eight Mile, Kelly Rd., Hoover and Houston Whittier, has a total of has a total of 3,194 lights, with 1,777 lights working and 1,417 not working, meaning 44.4 percent of its lights are out.
The west side demonstration project, with boundaries of McNichols on the north, Southfield Rd. on the east, Fenkell on the south and Telegraph on the west, with a small extension in the Five Points area of the city south of McNichols and west of Telegraph, has a total of 1,745 lights, with 951 lights working and 794 not working, meaning 45.5 percent of its lights are out.
About the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit
The PLA was authorized by the Michigan Legislature in December, 2012 and approved by Detroit City Council earlier this year to design and implement a three-year plan to improve Detroit’s public lighting system. The PLA is governed by a five-member board appointed by the Mayor and the City Council.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 04:06
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