Detroit Resurrected: New Book Explores City’s Bankruptcy

Former Free Press bankruptcy reporter Nathan Bomey speaks with Stephen Henderson about his book.

His daily stories chronicled Detroit’s financial situation in the pages of the Detroit Free Press. Now Nathan Bomey has written a 297-page book about the city’s bankruptcy and what can happen next.

Doing so took looking back at more than 11,000 legal filings, reviewing dozens of court hearings, and interviewing many of the key players. “You can’t tell a story like this without talking about the dynamic personalities involved,” Bomey tells Stephen Henderson on WDET’s Detroit Today.

In the book, “Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back,” Bomey not only relives the highlights of the unprecedented Chapter 9 case but also determines how it has set the city on a new path. Here’s an excerpt.

“The complexity of the case really cannot be overstated,” Bomey says. “To try to weed out the stuff that didn’t matter and emphasize the things that did I think was the challenge.”

Addressing some lingering questions and concerns about the actual need for the filing, Bomey said this:

“There’s no doubt that democracy was suspended in the city of Detroit throughout the period that Kevyn Orr was the emergency manager. I make no conclusion about whether that was a good or bad thing … I also think there is a very poetic injustice to this whole thing.”

Nathan Bomey was the lead reporter for the Detroit Free Press during the bankruptcy case. He now works at USA Today, based in Washington D.C.

Bomey has two public events planned in Detroit this week. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, he’ll be at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 he will appear at Pages Bookshop, 19560 Grand River Ave. Both events are free, but registration is required for the DIA.

Caller Jason, from Detroit, asked Bomey if the book examines the state’s role in Detroit’s financial collapse. It does.

“The city did a handshake deal,” between then Gov. John Engler and Mayor Dennis Archer Bomey says. “Lower income tax rates in exchange for a steady amount of revenue sharing. The state completely reneged on that deal, and that revenue declined over the next 15 years. There’s no doubt that the state of Michigan was complicit in the city’s financial collapse.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio above.

Here are some of the Bomey’s previous appearances on WDET during the bankruptcy case:

April 16, 2014: DWSD Regional Deal Falling Through

Aug. 7, 2014: Detroit Bankruptcy and Water Update