“Five Reasons Chicago Is in Worse Shape Than Detroit,” as proffered by BloombergBusiness (warning: auto-play video at link). Here are a few:
POLITICAL PARALYSIS: Just as Detroit slid into bankruptcy after decades of economic and actuarial warnings, Chicago politicians have watched the train wreck rumble toward them for more than a decade. During that time, they skipped pension payments and paid scant attention to the financial damage being done. In 10 years starting in 2002, the city increased its bonded debt by 84 percent, according to the Civic Federation, which tracks city finances. That added more than $1,300 to the tab of every Chicago resident.
In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder acted* when the crisis in Detroit couldn’t be avoided. He invoked a state law giving an emergency manager what amounts to fiscal martial-law power. In Chicago’s case, there’s no political pressure to invoke a similar law. And a proposal supported by Rauner that would allow municipalities to seek bankruptcy protection without state approval is languishing in the Illinois legislature.
NO BAILOUT: Detroit’s bankruptcy filing allowed it to restructure its debt, officially snuffing out $7 billion of it by cutting pensions and payments to creditors. In Illinois, the nation’s lowest-rated state with unfunded pension obligations of $111 billion, Rauner had a blunt message last week in an unprecedented address to Chicago’s City Council: The city will get no state bailout.
DENIAL: After years of denial, Detroit officials finally, if grudgingly, agreed to major surgery. At least for now, Chicago’s Emanuel is sticking to his view that the Illinois Supreme Court’s rejection of a state pension reform law doesn’t apply to the city. “That reform is not affected by today’s ruling, as we believe our plan fully complies with the State constitution because it fundamentally preserves and protects worker pensions,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Just a reminder, Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the days of Al Capone. But you wouldn’t know that reading the above article. (CTRL-F “Democrat” brings zero results.
Unexpectedly!, as they like to say at Bloomberg, whenever bad news strikes a Democrat.
However, there is one way that Chicago isn’t yet Detroit — Chicago’s architecture, as built by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe and their disciples is spectacular, even as it serves a class of effete bobo hipsters working in an increasingly hollowed-out shell of a city (QED). In contrast, as this Popular Mechanics article on aerial drone photography asks, “Who knew that parts of Detroit look like abandoned towns left to rot after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in Pripyat, Ukraine?”
Well, pretty much everybody who’s been paying attention over the last several years, as the once great Motor City continues to revert back to primordial nothingness. But check out the impressive aerial “ruin porn” anyhow.
* But gee, what were some of the ways in which Gov. Snyder acted? And which party does he belong to?