Some Foundations Pledge $330 Million Toward Detroit's Pensions, Art Museum

Pensions could cost up to $3.5 billion alone


dodge city is somewhere else

Detroit is still working on a bankruptcy plan, but some local and national foundations have stepped in to try to cover the costs of Detroit's underfunded pension liabilities, which may be up to $3.5 billion, and the city's art museum.

From USA Today:

The mediator in Detroit's federal bankruptcy case announced Monday that local and national foundations have pledged $330 million toward an effort to shore up Detroit's ailing pensions funds and to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen's statement made clear that the pledges do not by themselves mean that pensions and DIA art are now beyond the reach of creditors. Rather, the commitments are intended and expected to play a part in what Rosen's statement called "an overall balanced settlement of disputes in the bankruptcy."

The non-profits range from the Ford Foundation to the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and the deal won't be in effect until the rest of the city's bankruptcy problems are settled. Rosen's ruling on Detroit's bankruptcy didn't extend any special privileges for the city's massive pension liabilities

Related: Selling Off Its Art Would Show Detroit Cared About Its Future, and Its Art

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  1. I hope these foundations have big enough endowments to bail them out again 3 years from now.

    1. ^That. Plus bonus points for big endowments.

      They may delay the inevitable collapse, but not for long. Should make for an interesting object lessons when the bills finally come due and nobody is willing to pay them without title to the van Gogh.

      Also, the potential for this being held up as an example of why private charity doesn’t work and only government can save us.

  2. 10% of the pension underfunding isn’t going to help much. Why throw good money after bad?

      1. This.

        At least it is voluntary.

        1. Naturally, they’re going to have to refuse it, as it doesn’t fit in with their worldview of private charity.

  3. …and these foundations never got another dime of my money ever again.

    The End

    1. Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
      Kresge Foundation
      Ford Foundation
      John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
      William Davidson Foundation
      Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
      Hudson-Webber Foundation
      McGregor Fund
      Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

      1. Sounds like the list they rattle off at the end of every hour on PBS.

        1. Hopefully it will not include “and viewers like you!”

          1. They may say it but it don’t make it true.

        2. Yes, except that those are Michigan-related on one way or another: Ford, Kresge, Davidson, Erb, and CS Mott definitely. There’ve been some huge fortunes made in and around Detroit (which is how the DIA ended up with the art in the first place).

    2. What better cause than to make sure a career bureaucrat retires richer than you?

    3. I’ll bet none of those foundations ever got a dime of your money to start with, you heartless, top-hatted bastard.

  4. local and national foundations have pledged $330 million toward an effort to shore up Detroit’s ailing pensions funds and to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    Why do I assume this is nothing more than an attempt to put an extremely thin veneer of respectability on a bailout?

    Sell the fucking art. Sell the fucking building. Distribute the proceeds to the retirees and tell them to suck an egg on the balance.

      1. ^THIS^

        The worst thing is shoring up this POS. Art is not an essential government service. That’s part of the reason Detroit is in this mess to begin with. The city needs to cut every last non-essential item out of their budget and slash their costs on the rest.

        1. They also need to responsibly execute those essential services by demanding accountability from their workforce and implementing meaningful consequences for failure.

          Neither of these things is going to happen anytime soon.

    1. It’s one of those “Public-Private Partnerships”! Liberal foundations throw in a few bucks and Uncle Sugar takes care the 3.5 billion balance.

      Are these foundations willing to put their whole enchilada into “saving” (scare quotes ftw) Detroit?

  5. The mediator in Detroit’s federal bankruptcy case announced Monday that local and national foundations have pledged $330 million toward an effort to shore up Detroit’s ailing pensions funds and to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    We must save the art! What’s that? Half of Detroit’s streetlights don’t work? Pish-posh. ‘m sure those lights are only non-functioning in the peasant areas. They should be inside after dark anyway. The less seen they are, the better.

  6. Just one more fix man, then I swear I’m gonna go straight.

  7. Any “rescue” of artwork should be conducted as part of an open, no-reserve auction. If the Ford Foundation wants to bid against Larry Ellison and Steve Wynn, fine; no Do-Gooder Discounts.

  8. If these foundations put up money to buy the museum and keeping running with private funds, I would be cheering.

    But this is just more bullshit.

    1. How, exactly? There’s no indication that there would not be an ownership transfer to the Foundations. They would simply outsource the maintenance/display to the city.

      This is not (at least AFAICT) some sort of “gift”. I’m not sure what’s objectionable about it.

    2. The operating funds don’t come from the city of Detroit — they come from a voter-approved regional millage. The same is true of the Detroit Zoo — owned by the city, but not funded by it. If the art goes, so does the art millage (which makes the ‘everything has to go’ position more complicated — Detroit would get a on-time cash infusion but lose an annual source of revenue from the ‘burbs).

      This is a general pattern, BTW, the city of Detroit retains ownership but gives up operational control and funding responsibility. The latest instance is the state taking over Belle Isle and running it as a state park.

  9. Damn, I was hoping to add a few Renoirs, Monets, etc. to my private collection in my mansion where only I, I, I can view it through my monocle eyes. Nothing more relaxing after a quick dip in my money vault or brisk sedan chair carry (by children, of course) through my private Yellowstone park.

    1. Don’t lie. The orphans that bring you your food would also be able to view it, and even if they disregard your instructions to divert their eyes from your precious artwork, they would certainly peer into the beauty of a Renoir and accept their 30 lashes dutifully.

      1. By looking at it, they’d be violating copyright law.

  10. It’s probably the Koch Brothers.

    They’re trying to trick everyone into thinking the arts can be supported privately.

  11. I’m not sure what’s objectionable about it.

    Does the term “arm’s length transaction” ring a bell?

  12. A fool and his money…

    1. What about a fool and other people’s money?

      1. Even faster.

  13. Far be it from me to tell anyone how to spend their own charitable dollars, but if ever there was a clear demonstration of throwing good money after bad, this is it.

  14. And, of course, this is just another example of the progressives’ fetishization of stasis. “OMFG, the collection is a totality, you cannot ever break it up! It is a ‘collection’ today. It was a ‘collection’ yesterday. That means it has to be a ‘collection’ for all eternity!”

    And besides, what if some slanty eyed Jap who builds better cars than we do uses his filthy traitor dollars to buy a Vermeer and take it to Japan, so he can hang it up in his rice paper shanty? Oh, ignominy!

    1. It has nothing to do with stasis. It has to do with regionalism. “This is in Detroit and we want it to say in Detroit because Michigan Rocks!”

  15. Someone tell me again why these assclowns refuse to sell the art? I thought they had it in case something like this sort of financial emergency happened. anyone who claims the art should never be sold needs to be riding the short bus to their absolutely, and i am sure it is, useless job.

    1. Does any actually RTFA? This is just a proposal, done completely independently of the city government, by people who believe that it’s in the interests of the people of Michigan to keep the art in Michigan.

      You may not agree that that’s a suitable objective for these Foundations. But it has fuck all to do with “assclowns refuse to sell the art”.

    2. There are many reasons but they mostly boil down to “sacrilege” or “for the chirrun.” The semi-serious arguments involve the fact that several other municipalities have bought into the museum and are claimed to be co-owners. Fine, let them take their share (either auction proceeds or individual works of art).

    3. All art is supposed to be in museums! Otherwise it is hoarded by the rich, never to be seen again by the people! Didn’t Indiana Jones teach you anything?!?

  16. It has nothing to do with stasis.


    Change is bad, children, mmmmkay?

  17. What about the Detroit Opera? The Kochs would be totally into that.

  18. to protect artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts

    Because it will be burned otherwise? What’s this “protect” bullshit? That art is going to wind up in a museum or a billionaire’s collection regardless. They’re not “protecting” it. They’re “keeping” it.

    1. Protection from sale and subsequent exit from Detroit and the greater Michigan area.

      I swear to fuck…NO ONE its bothering to RTFA today.

      1. RTFA? Why would we do that?

      2. They’re not “protecting” it. They’re “keeping” it.

        Maybe you should RTFC?

        1. That was to MP.

        2. I don’t see any difference between Protect and Keep when Protect is used in the context it was used in the original article.

          READ IT.

          1. Because this art isn’t being “protected” from anything except changing hands.

            And that is an abuse of the word “protect.”

            This isn’t about RTFA. This is about the willing transmission of blatantly misleading propaganda.

            1. protecting the DIA art collection from possible sale to pay the city’s creditors

              I just don’t see how that’s at all either misleading or improper.

              And that’s TFA. If you’re just attacking USA Today for their story summation, well FFS it’s USA Today and it’s a story summation.

              1. Moar abbreviations please.

              2. Sure, I’ll attack USAT for their “story summation”, especially when its the lede of the whole FA.

                The second phrase is marginally better, if still tendentious, because it makes clear the context (sale of the art, not its destruction).

                Why not say “prevent the sale of the DIA art collection to pay the city’s debts”?

    2. They’re protecting it from being hoarded by the evil rich, never to be seen again by a member of the public!

  19. The non-profits range from the Ford Foundation…

    On the bright side, Edsel remains an unpopular name.

  20. Protection from sale and subsequent exit from Detroit and the greater Michigan area.


  21. Speaking of art, here are some photos of art from Art Basel 2013.…..each-2013/

    1. My fave from 2012.…

  22. There is a dude that knows what time it is.

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