DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The federal judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case opened Friday mornings second day of hearing by announcing that he doesn’t run city hall.
Judge Steven Rhodes said local officials are “in full control” of Detroit services and complaints or compliments should go to them.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the judge’s message.
Detroit filed for Chapter 9 protection two weeks ago, citing a debt load of at least $18 billion. Judge Steven Rhodes hasn’t looked at the numbers yet and still must decide whether the city even is eligible for bankruptcy.
The agenda Friday includes a possible October trial to determine that eligibility as well as appointing another judge to serve as mediator between the Detroit emergency manager and the city’s creditors.
During the hearing, creditors have a right to argue that the city doesn’t qualify.
“Detroit is going to have to prove that it is bankrupt,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton. “But some of these creditors out there may say, ‘Hey, wait a minute: Detroit does have money; Detroit has Belle Isle; Detroit has the art; Detroit has a tax base.'”
The judge is also expected to propose a March 1 deadline for Detroit to come up with a financial plan.
Rhodes last week put a stop to any lawsuits in state court that threatened to derail the bankruptcy. He says he’ll take up similar challenges in his own court at the appropriate time.
Gov. Rick Snyder approved Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing on July 18, saying it was the only viable option for the city suffocating under an estimated $18 billion on long-term debt.
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