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Claude Nolan
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Jul 282013
 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — During an interview for ABC’s This Week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Detroit would have to deal with its creditors in order to resolve its recently-declared bankruptcy when he was asked about the possibility of a federal bailout for Motor City.

“Detroit’s economic problems have been a long time in developing. We stand with Detroit trying to work through how it approaches these issues,” Lew told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“To that extent that there are kind of normal relations between the federal government and state and local government — we’ve been using those methods.  Even in the Treasury Department, we have a program where we work to help with housing programs.  I think when it comes to the questions between Detroit and its creditors, that’s really something that Detroit is going to have to work out with its creditors,” he said.

The issue of a Detroit bailout has been a divisive one in Washington. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has issued tweets expressing his views on the subject, is dead set against it while the AFL-CIO has called for the federal government to provide Motown with assistance. Detroit’s mayor said “not yet” when Stephanopoulos asked him about the possibility of a bailout during their interview last Sunday.

During the interview, Stephanopoulos also asked Lew about a critical decision the president will have to make in the next few months — the choice of who should succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when he leaves his post. Lew praised the current chairman, but declined to discuss his preference for who should replace him.

“I have to start by saying that Chairman Bernanke has been an extraordinary and remains an extraordinary Fed chairman,” Lew said. “I’m going to keep private any conversations that we’re having with the president on the question of when and what kind of succession there should be. I think that those conversations are best left in the privacy of the Oval Office.”

The fall showdowns over funding the government loom over Congress, and Stephanopoulos asked Lew if the current disagreement between Democrats and Republicans would lead to a government shutdown.

“It is imperative that Washington be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We can’t afford self-inflicted wounds and we can’t have these kinds of self-created crises month after month, year after year,” he said.

“And I think we’re going to be able to work through these issues.  And I certainly hope that Congress isn’t looking to create confrontations and false crises because we did see, in 2011, how bad that is for the American economy,” Lew added, referring to the fight over raising the debt ceiling two years ago that led in part to the subsequent lowering of the credit rating of the United States by Standard and Poor’s.

Asked about raising the debt ceiling in coming months, Lew said the president would not negotiate on the issue.

“The mere fact of negotiating over the debt limit, after 2011, would introduce this notion that somehow there’s a question about whether or not we’re going to pay our bills, whether or not we’re going to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” he said.

“Well, it’s not OK to default.  Congress can’t let us default.  Congress has to do its work,” Lew said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jul 212013
 

Cornelia Schaible/Getty Images(DETROIT) — In an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he hopes the city’s decision to file for bankruptcy will provide a new beginning for Motor City.

“I’m surely hoping that this will be a new start.  Detroiters are a very, very resilient people,” Bing said. “Detroit is a very iconic city, worldwide, and our people will fight through this. And we will come back.”

The city of Detroit made history on Thursday when it became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. Detroit’s emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr filed for Chapter 9 protection, citing the city’s $18 billion in debts to over 100,000 creditors.

Bing, a former NBA basketball player, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos he is unsure what role the federal government will play in Detroit’s comeback.

“Well, I think it’s very difficult right now to ask directly for support,” Bing said. “I have gotten great support from this administration.  I’ve got great support from a lot of the different departments within the administration. They have been helpful, but now that we’ve done our bankruptcy filing, I think we’ve got to take a step back and see what’s next.”

“There’s a lot of conversation, a lot of planning, a lot of negotiations that will go into fixing our city,” he added.

On Friday, a judge ruled the bankruptcy filing unconstitutional, saying it threatens the pension benefits of retirees. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette plans to appeal that ruling on behalf of the Gov. Rick Snyder’s office.

Sunday morning, Bing told Stephanopoulos that lawyers shouldn’t “dictate what’s going to happen” next in Detroit.

“Well, I’m not a lawyer. And I’m glad I’m not at this point in time. But I’m hearing — I am hearing that, you know, that the federal constitution will trump the state constitution,” he said. “But whatever happens, we can’t allow lawyers to dictate what’s going to happen in our city and its comeback.  We’ve got to throw away a lot of the bickering and fighting amongst us and do what’s best to bring cities like Detroit back.”

The mayor told Stephanopoulos that Detroit’s problems set a precedent for other cities across America.

“There are over 100 major urban cities that are having the same problems that we’re having,” Bing said. “We may be one of the first, we are the largest, but we absolutely will not be the last. And so we’ve got to set a benchmark in terms how to fix our cities and come back from this tragedy.”

Bing also discussed what the city’s money woes mean for the Motor City’s future and sent a message to Detroiters that “the cavalry is coming.”

“We’ve got to make sure that those people understand that we care about them. That we’re going to reinvest in our neighborhoods and give them the things that they need,” Bing said.

“I think our city is going to come back.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  And we’ve got to be very strategic in whatever we do that we can’t fix it all overnight.  People need to understand that,” Bing cautioned. “We’ve got to better communicate that to people and let them know that the cavalry is coming.”

In the past 50 years, Detroit’s racial landscape has gone from approximately 80% white residents to 80% African-American. When asked to respond to what Washington Post reporter Keith Richburg wrote – which read in part “Older Detroiters are correct that the city was surrounded by a ring of often-hostile white suburbs, in a largely conservative state that had little time for a poor, destitute, Democratic and black city… The governor’s appointment of an emergency financial manager… is again seen as a hostile, racist takeover by the state over the city’s elected black leadership” – the mayor said he did not want to make this a “black and white issue”

“It’s a financial issue, and it’s green. We’ve got to get some funding that’s necessary to help us fix our problem right now,” Bing said. “The polarization between our city and our suburbs is something that’s been going on for the last 60 years. We’ve got to change it.”

“Once again, if Detroit fails, doesn’t make it, then all these surrounding suburbs are going to feel the brunt of it also,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 102013
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Being pulled out of a car at gunpoint by masked men while heavy metal music plays in the background would be a nightmarish experience for most people.

Not so for the increasing number of people who pay hundreds of dollars to experience it.

“It’s more or less a thrill entertainment of a kidnapping scenario,” said Shanel Hill, a professional abductor for the Detroit-based company called Extreme Kidnapping.

For about $500, you can get the four-hour “econo-kidnapping” package, or spend thousands of dollars for more deluxe packages that can run a full day.

“Some people come to us because they want to lose control,” Hill said.

The company’s founder, Adam Thick, says he was inspired to start the company nearly a decade ago by The Game, the 1997 movie starring Michael Douglas as a wealthy investment banker given the gift of a “game” that brings excitement into his life.

Law enforcement experts, however, say the excitement created by the all-too-real kidnappings could create real-life danger.

An alleged abduction in New York City made headlines earlier this month as police investigated whether the incident – in which a man with a plastic bag over his head and another wearing a mask forced a woman into a minivan at gunpoint – was a hoax staged to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was.

“What you’ve done is create a situation where both the police, the victims and the fake bad guy could be harmed,” ABC News analyst and former FBI special agent Brad Garrett said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Feb 032013
 

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(DETROIT, Mich.) — The 70-year-old girls’ basketball coach of a Detroit high school shot two teenage attackers who tried to rob him as he was escorting two players to their cars, police said.

The coach was allegedly approached by two men who brandished a gun at him as he was walking two players to their cars near Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School Friday night, ABC’s Detroit affiliate WXYZ-TV reported.

The coach, who police said has a concealed pistol license and is reportedly a reserve police officer, then pulled out his gun and shot at his attackers.

One of the attackers died from the shooting, while the other was rushed to the hospital, WXYZ reported.

Both of the coach’s alleged attackers attended Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, but one of the students had recently been expelled and was not allowed to be on school grounds, WXYZ reported.

The coach was not a teacher at the school.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 312013
 

Steve Allen/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — At least four people were killed Thursday morning in a chain reaction accident on a highway in southwest Detroit.

Three of the deceased were children, according to Michigan State Police Captain Monica Yesh, who couldn’t confirm if the four victims were all in the same vehicle.

The pileup on Interstate 75 involved dozens of cars and stretched for more than a mile.

Yesh said whiteout conditions were likely to blame.

“There was a huge snow squall that came through, probably only lasted 15 to 20 seconds, pretty much took everybody’s sight away,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio