US bankruptcy judge, attorneys take three-hour tour of Detroit

US bankruptcy judge, attorneys take three-hour tour of Detroit

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This is a map of the bankruptcy bus tour. This is a map of the bankruptcy bus tour.
CITY OF DETROIT -  The federal judge in charge of Detroit's bankruptcy and the city's largest creditors got to see first hand the financial state of the city Friday.

US bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and dozens of attorneys boarded buses in Southfield this afternoon.

Their stops included the DIA , several police precincts, the M-1 rail site, and the Brightmoor and Sherwood Forest neighborhoods.

Rhodes is expected to rule on the plan to restructure $18 billion in debt this month.

They saw  vacant crumbling homes, overgrown grass. The first stop -- Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. On the three-hour and 15-minute -- 58-mile tour Friday,  a plan in the works -- since last fall.

"You could do this by pictures," said attorney Gregory Shumaker of Jones Day law firm. "But you do not get a sense of the scale of the problem unless you actually travel the route like we did."

With the bankruptcy trial less than two weeks away -- U.S. bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes -- rode through the streets of Detroit on a city bus, and got the background and history of each location.

Attorney Robert Hertzberg, from the Pepper Hamilton law firm said,  "Virginia Park, we then went through the center of the city Dexter Davidson, down through the university neighborhood, through Sherwood Forest and Palmer Woods."
The tour went along 8 Mile -- west side to east side, with Rhodes and both lawyers and creditors beside him. They rode through the Heidelberg Project, Eastern Market and stopped  to take a walk at the DIA and the Detroit Police's 5th and 9th precincts.

"One of the major issues is the reinvestment in the safety, police, fire, EMS and the 5th, 9th precincts clearly needs some work on it," Hertzberg said,

Those along for the ride called the views good, bad and ugly - as well as moving and startling.

"Not only are these wonderful neighborhoods," Shumaker said. "They are very close to a mile from places that if you go down the block you can't believe the kind of decay and blight that is there."

But many wonder -- can you see the real Detroit in a three-hour tour?

The goal was to escape the sterile courtroom  and to get a sense of what Detroiters are really dealing with.

"You have to see Detroit in a bad way and what is possible with some investment, some excitement," said Fox 2's Charlie Langton.

So when he is listening to testimony, Rhodes can reflect on what he saw.

"He will be able to return to today and think 'I know, I saw, I was there, I have a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem,'" said Shumaker.

So, when the plan of adjustment is presented, will this tour help? Most say -- it couldn't hurt.

"The judge will likely say okay, this plan works it's feasible and it will get this city back to where it should have been years ago," Langton said.

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