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tv   News  Al Jazeera  December 3, 2013 12:00pm-12:31pm EST

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welcome to al jazeera america. i'm stephanie sy. we're following breaking news. a u.s. judge has ruled detroit is eligible for are bankruptcy. here is the detroit mayor now with reaction. let's listen in. >> let me just say that the judge has spoken, and i do think it's a tough day for all of us here in detroit. i believe since i came to office, with the crisis that we had, this was inevitable.
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i don't think anybody necessarily wanted to go in this direction, but now that we're here, it's more important that we work together as opposed to continuing to fight each other. it's very, very important, i think, that we respect the fact that the emergency manager has the key to the city at this point in time. my relationship with kevin has been positive from the beginning, you know, we don't agree on everything, but at the same token we do it in a very respectful way. i know there are a lot of people that are upset, that are concerned about their futures, but we are now starting from square one. there are going to be a lot of negotiations yet to come. there's going to be a lot of push and pull.
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i don't think we have a final determination as to what all of the elements are going to be to get us through this process, but it's a process that i think we need to take a lot of care, because there is going to be pain for a lot of different people, but in the long run, i think the future of the city will be bright. there are a lot of positive things that are now happening. there are things that are in queue that will happen in 2014 and once again we all need to get into the same boat, pull together, as tough as it is going to be, it's important for the future of the city that we get this behind us. there is a lot of debt on our balance sheet, and i think the in-coming mayor will have a better balance sheet than any mayor has had in the last 20 to 30 years.
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this debt has been very, very difficult to deal with, because it keeps us from having money to put into the programs that are so desperate for the citizens of detroit. i think the lights will come on. i do think we'll see improved police and fire response times. all of those things i think were part of my initiative that i think will become a reality as we move through 2014. with that, i'll be open for questions, and hopefully kevin will be in shortly to speak. >> reporter: you mentioned a couple of [ inaudible ] actually a good thing for the residents of detroit but bad for the
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pensioners >> i don't know that it is bad for the pensioners yet. i think all of our focus has to be on what is best for the citizens of detroit. the 700,000-plus people that are here. i don't think we want to get into a situation where we're putting the citizens against the pensioners. there is going to be pain that goes around, and we have to figure out how we can immediate the least amount of pain for any one individual. >> reporter: [ inaudible ] judge rhodes said this should have happened a long time ago. what is your reaction? >> i absolutely agree. we have wasted a lot of time. we could have -- we could have -- in my four and a half years, we manages our way through a tough, tough situation, but there was no way we were going to solve the
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long-term liabilities and debt on our balance sheet. there was a $330 million cumulated deficit over time, we had an $18 billion overhang. and so we were never able to go out and increase revenue. so the only way we stayed alive quite frankly is through cuts. and we cut everything that we could, but unless there is more investment coming into the city, and a new stream of revenue, there was no way to -- i guess to fix the problem, so now with bankruptcy eminent, i think our debt off of our balance sheet would be less than it is today, and that is going to be a positive on a going forward basis. the mayor of detroit responding to a federal judge's ruling that detroit can proceed
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with its bankruptcy filing. bisi onile-ere is live from detroit. what is the reaction there. >> as you can see me there is a group gathered. and you have been very outspoken through this whole or deal. were you disappointed by the judge's decision? >> we were very disappointed. he basically found that terminating the pensions is legal. >> reporter: a lot of people are worried right now because of the ruling that came down. >> we're continuing to pursue all of our options. we hope to negotiate hard in the plaintiff process, the judge asked to step up and protect some of these pension benefits, and we have already appealed. >> so when you file that appeal, does it slow anything down?
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>> one of the things in chapter 9 is you can't stop the bankruptcy proceedings, so we're appealing quickly. but somebody has to talk to us, and somebody has to be willing, governor, to step to the plate and help us solve some of these issues? >> is there any message you have out there for the 20,000-plus retirees that are on edge right now? >> we're going to keep fighting, but they have every right to be nervous. we have heard some of the pensions could be cut inasmuch as half. >> thank you so, sharon. >> thank you. >> so stephanie the judge made a decision about 45 minutes ago, and you can see a lot of media and protesters are out here, protesters have been chanting no justice, no peace, to
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bankruptcy. but clearly the judge decided to go in a different direction. there was some question as to whether the city negotiated in in good faith before filing for bankruptcy, and the judge came out and said that yes, that was the case. and as sharon just mentioned, the judge basically said that the u.s. constitution does not protect those pensions, so where it goes from here, no one knows. the hearing has concluded for the day, so here in detroit these bankruptcy proceedings will continue, and i'm told the emergency manager will have a restructuring plan submitted to the judge by the end of this month. >> okay, bisi. stay there, we are going to listen in -- kevyn orr is speaking out in. let's listen. >> analyzing the arguments, and preparing a very meticulous ruling in this regard.
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we're also pleased that we're able to make some headway even in this process on revitalizing city services, putting in a new solid wastes contract. getting a new light's initiative restored, and otherwise reinvent and revitalize the city so it can address the many concerns that have been coming this way for so long. but we have a lot of work ahead of us. and i would ask both of our creditors, none of whom filed objection to our eligibility, but equally our labor partners to come forward and take this opportunity even in the process of litigation and appeals to try to get at the sorely needed reform that this city has got to achieve so we can move forward into a new day, and we can prepare, hopefully, a consensual plan of adjustment and be able
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to remove the receivership over the city so it can grow and thrive. with that, i would be happy to take any questions? yes, sir? >> reporter: would you explain what you mean by clean slate? >> sure. typically in bankruptcy organizations clean slate or fresh start is an opportunity to relieve ours as a city of the crushing debt burden that we have. as the judge mentioned during his ruling, approximately 40% of every dollar that the city takes in in the general fund goes to paying legacy debts, pension obligations or debt. that is just not sustainable, because in the next three to four years that number will go to almost 65%. we have to relief the city of that burden. and that would be the clean slate. in other words the city could get to a position that it would
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go forward and pay its bill as they become due in the ordinary course. >> reporter: does anything the judge said to today change course for you? >> no. i think i have said before the issue of federal pre-emption and supremacy are things i have been involved with out there think career. i know it's troubling to some people, but this has happened in many, many areas many, many times and as judge rhodes said, virtually in the 30 years i have been doing this type of work there has not been a restructuring where contracts have not been restructured. it's just that the contracts here have a human dimension and that's very disturbing. yes, ma'am? >> reporter: how do you forward talking to the citizens of detroit because this is about
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detroit. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: what happens to the citizens of detroit? this >> hopefully the citizens will begin to see a better level of services returned to the city. right here in downtown, for instance, the city thrives. we're 97% leased. there are many projects, you'll see a number of new apartment buildings and lofts going up, a number of new mixed-use construction. what we really want to do is make sure that that type of reform is pushed out to the neighborhoods. but equally important, we're going to continue to pay salaries as they become due, pay all benefits and checks as they become due, and continue to pay our bills as they become due in the ordinary course. in fact, in the first time in many years the city is paying their bills on time. so it's business as usual in
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detroit, but in determination gives us a better opportunity to go forward with that clean slate. >> right here in the back. >> reporter: [ inaudible ] pensions? >> those discussions are currently part of the mediation process being underwaken by judge rosen. we thank judge rosen and his team of mediators for that process, and we hope we'll be able to get to some more definitive numbers. what i can say is that we hope it's consensual. >> reporter: what do you think -- >> reporter: [ inaudible ] put on hold? is that still going forward january 1st? >> no, it is still onhold. we decided it was best that we extend that for two months and we are still going to do that. >> reporter: extend it to when? >> march 1st. >> reporter: when do you think you'll actually have the details of the plan adjustment in place
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realistically? >> we -- we -- my legal team headed by the attorneys you have seen, bruce bennett, david highman, and the other attorneys involved, we're preparing a plan of adjustment right now. we're going to work throughout this month even through the holiday to produce a plan for our labor partners, and so they can look at that plan and we'll actually file it probably in the first week of february. >> reporter: mr. orr you talked about [ inaudible ]. >> i said when i was in this room, i think on march 25th that everything was on the table. and that remains true even now these seven months later. we are at a point now, whereas you know, christy's was hired to produce an assessment on the phase i art the 500 or some odd
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pieces, we should be in a position to publish that assessment within the next week or two. that assessment will drive a discussion about what if anything we need to do with regard to the art museum. one thing that is helpful, is there has been an effort lead by judge rosen with some members of the philanthropic community to see if there are any financial incentives that can help us come to a solution. >> reporter: there are many people who are worried, retirees that are worried about today's ruling. what can you tell them that would put them in a better comfort zone than they are right now? >> you know, when i said i was very pleased, i very specifically stayed away from
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the word happy, because i think there is still much work that needs to be done, and one of them of course is the retiree issue. i can tell them we're trying to be very thoughtful, measured and humane about what we have to do. but the reality is there is not enough money to address the situation no matter what we do. that is clear. and what i can tell them that that they have representation that we asked for, and the city is paying for it we paid for the retiree committee so there are people that can support and put forward their interests. but we're going to try to do this in a very measured and thoughtful way, but it has to be done. >> reporter: what kind of help do you expect from washington? >> well, a month or so ago we had the big meeting with our federal partners who came and
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talked about increasing grants, safer grants with the department of homeland security, and those are starting to come into the city. we'll continue to work along that way with existing federal programs that are able to assist the city with its current needs. >> reporter: with so much financial weight with the dia as well as [ inaudible ] can you see a greater need to cut one or the other or can you place a weight on what we're going to [ inaudible ] before [ inaudible ]? >> well, i think you have to be careful. people affect the dia. the detroit institute of art is a facility owned by the city of detroit. the corporation manages that facility for the benefit of detroit. those are detroit assets.
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they are different than pensioners, which are obligees that with have. we have to be fair and equitable in our treatment with all creditor classes, financial creditors, or retirees, pensioners, and the like, and that's what we're going to try to do. >> reporter: are you on track for [ inaudible ] >> well, we hope to stay on track. we had our map out. we had the tank full of gas, and the car was in the driveway. we're now heading down the road. but we have a long road ahead. but we're on track to keep our schedule to meet the requirements under the statute that ends basically at the end of september 2014. >> reporter: detroit is finally
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hit the bottom if you will. how soon before detroit is a better city? a city that people want to move to? a city that just doesn't feel safe, but is actually safe? how soon before detroit is relatively back on its feet in your honest opinion? >> okay. honest opinion, two things i said, i think downtown, and in some areas you are already seeing that. downtown has a 97% lease rate. you couldn't move here if you wanted to, and you are seeing a tremendous amount of construction and interest into the city. the real issue is how do the other neighborhoods feel? and that's why we're so focused on dealing with blight issues, policing, garbage collection and so on and so forth. but something that attorney general holder said a month or so ago, one of the things we need to do is recognize first
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and foremost that we have been marching our way here for 60 years. there were no computers during that time. it's going to take some time for us to big ourselves out of this predicament city wide. so what i would ask is there be some gain in terms of dealing with the time frame that is involved to deal with the magnitude. i'm hopeful between the lighting demonstration project projects -- blooith issues, every neighborhood will see some improvement. that's kevyn orr the emergency manager in detroit. the man responsible for this city filing for bankruptcy. he was also discussing the dire
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financial straights that that city is in. let's go back to bisi onile-ere who has been following the story from detroit. i guess my question is what is the next step? >> i can tell you that the hearing wrapped up shortly ago, and that's it for the day. i am told that the bankruptcy proceedings will move forward. the emergency manager has until march to submit a restructuring plan to the judge. but they are on a fast track. so i'm told he is planning to have that into the judge as early as this month. >> yes, he did say definitely by the end of the year. all right. bisi onile-ere reporting from detroit. we'll bring you the latest throughout the day. up next, more details surface about the investigation in that new york train derailment. we'll have the latest.
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online @ajamstream.
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welcome back to al jazeera america. i'm stephanie sy. new details on what lead to that deadly plane crash in new york. the commuter train was traveling far too fast, more than 80 miles an hour down the track. the question is why? lisa stark joins us from washington. what is the latest? >> that train should have been going at 30 miles an hour around the curve. there are no published reports this morning including from wabc, those reports indicate that the engineer, william rockefeller has said he may have zoned out at the controls. he may have dosed off and then snapped awake too late to stop
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the train in time the ntsb will continue to interview the engineer and also look back at the man's 72-hour history before this accident. did he get enough sleep? did fatigue play a roll in this accident. the train left his original station very, very early sunday morning. fatigue has long been a concern in transportation accidents, and that will certainly be one of the key questions here. >> and that really gets to the heart of whether this was mechanical failure on human error. thank you lisa. up next a look at today's top headlines and a rundown on some nasty weather on the horizon.
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welcome back to al jazeera america. i'm stephanie sy. here are today's head loins. president obama and congressional democrats are trying to reshape the debate over the affordable care act. this afternoon they'll launch an
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effort to explain the law's benefits and why it was passed in the first place. a federal judge has declared detroit is eligible for bankruptcy. the city has roughly $18 billion of debt. the city could be forced to cut the pensioned of retired employees. ♪ i'm dave warren. the headline with the weather will be the arctic blast that is just starting to move south. here are the current readings. 50 in tulsa. 55 degrees in st. louis. there is some light snow with this as well. we had some snow in the last 24 hours, and more will come down as this storm continues to develop. there is the cold air coming in from the north. the warm air being pulled up ahead of the storm. the arctic blast is coming down from the north, and by tuesday and wednesday it is through the
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dakotas through kansas and oklahoma as this storm continues to intensify. there will be gusty wind with this. we'll be talking about wind chill and snow. another storm drops and dumps a foot of snow in colorado. what it feels like on your skin, though, by wednesday evening, 24, 25 below. that is the wind chill. and it could get as low as 40 below. there is a stationary front -- we don't like to see this because we have warm air approaching from texas. cold air in place. that will lead to freezing rain or sleet. a lot of that happening thursday through texas and oklahoma. so we're looking at rain continuing thursday and friday with temperatures close to 60, but the sleet and freezing rain will be in the southern plains. stephanie? >> dave, thank you.
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