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Nearly $300 million in aid for Detroit — from federal and state coffers, private businesses and charitable foundations — will be announced Friday as Obama administration officials visit the city to discuss what can be done to help eradicate blight, improve transportation, encourage new business and make residents safer.The funding will include $150 million in blight eradication and community redevelopment, including $65 million in Community Development Block Grant funding — which had already been awarded over two years but could not be accessed by the city. An additional $25 million could help hire as many as 150 firefighters in the city.Some $24 million in federal resources that had been tied up will go to repairing buses and installing security cameras, part of an overall $140-million investment in transit systems. And several charitable groups — the Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Knight Foundation — will put millions into spurring entrepreneurship and creating jobs.Gene Sperling, the head of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and an Ann Arbor native, briefed reporters on some the plans Thursday evening, saying Friday’s meeting at Wayne State University is “the first of many efforts that the administration will engage in with the city of Detroit.”Many details were still to come out Friday.
Revealed: Detroit Gave $2 Billion in Undisclosed Union-Brokered Bonuses
A stunning new actuary report on Detroit's pension implosion has revealed that Detroit trustees doled out nearly $2 billion in undisclosed holiday "bonuses" to Detroit workers and retirees negotiated by the city and its unions. Internally, officials called the bonuses "13th checks." "People were having a hard time, living hand-to-mouth, and we thought we would give them some extra," Detroit pension trustee spokesperson Tina Bassett said. Almost everyone received a bonus. "Most of the trustees on Detroit's two pension boards represent organized labor, and for years they could outvote anyone who challenged the payments," reports the New York Times.Financial journalist Megan McArdle, writing for Bloomberg, says the findings left her "speechless" and that "it's hard to overstate how bad this is." The Times asked Detroit's independent auditor general from 1995 to 2005, Joseph Harris, what legal authority Detroit trustees used to issue the holiday bonuses. "My understanding was, it had to be approved by City Council, and the council was under the belief that the money was there--that the pension funds were earning the money--with the consideration that in bad times the city would be making up the difference."Harris added: "I hate to say that. Ultimately the fund has to be funded by the taxpayers."The union-brokered $2 billion bonus revelation comes as President Barack Obama sent a White House delegation led by Attorney General Eric Holder to Detroit on Friday to announce a $320 million aid package.