Judge Rosen: On Mediation In City Of Detroit Bankruptcy (Part III, Getting The Funds)

By: Donald L Swanson

Hon. Gerald E. Rosen (Ret.) serves as mediator, arbitrator and neutral evaluator in high-level business cases for the JAMS office in Detroit.  

Previously, Judge Rosen served as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, when the City of Detroit filed its Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  Shortly thereafter, the presiding bankruptcy judge appointed Judge Rosen as Chief Judicial Mediator in the City of Detroit bankruptcy case.

Judge Rosen, as Chief Judicial Mediator, is recognized as the person who “masterminded an $820-million deal that rescued Detroit” out of bankruptcy and as “the Judge who helped save Detroit.”

The interview linked above is Part III, of a three part series. This final part is on “Getting The Funds.” What follows is an index to subjects discussed in the interview, with time notations where each item can be found on the video.

Part III: Getting the Funds

The Foundations

(00:20) Ford Foundation—New Yorker cartoon story

(00:55)  Story of Ford Foundation committing $125 million—its largest-ever donation

(02:05) Getting calls from other foundations with additional largest-ever commitments

The State of Michigan

(02:30) Discussions with Governor on State stepping up

(03:50) Told Governor of commitments by the foundations, conditioned upon the State participating

(06:00) The Governor’s concern: Will that be enough?

(07:40) If can get $100 million from other sources, we’ll make it work

(08:30) Shook hands for $350 million commitment, now need to sell it to the legislature—will be very difficult, but there is no Plan B

(09:20) Talked to both political parties and all legislators

(09:40) Got approvals by overwhelming majorities: “Today we are all Detroiters

 Mediation lessons from Detroit for other types of bankruptcies

(10:50) Never give up and ignore the “F” word; “final” offers

(11:50) When parties present a binary equation, don’t accept it and try to find a way out

(12:20) Bankruptcies are tough, because many creditors are involved—musical chairs analogy

(13:30) Patience and perseverance

(13:45) Four “C”s—Candor: Denial is a river in Egypt, not a solution to a problem

(14:20) Cooperation: Must get past anger and scar tissue and focus on real issues and possible paths to resolution

(15:25) Creativity: Everyone needs to be creative and mediators need to foster this—Detroit’s water and sewer resolution is an example

(17:15) Courage: from the mediators and the parties—the first step always takes courage; everyone in Detroit bankruptcy showed courage; foundations are an example

News media issues

(18:35) Trying to keep developments out of the media

(19:15) It leaked out after 8 days—story about pre-publication conversation with reporter

(21:00) Called Publisher of Detroit News

A $5 million hero

(21:20) Story in newspaper at 5:00 a.m.—front and center, above the fold; and got blasted as a result

(22:00) Financial creditors started fighting

(22:25) Story of how the “Grand Bargain” term originated

(23:40) Email from a private individual to pledge $5 million—inspirational story amid the “shark tank” of this case

(25:50) Getting the $5 million story out to inspire others—this resulted in contributions from everywhere—“Amazing” that people cared.

(27:05) The $5 million donor—Our “VW”

(27:50) A documentary film is being made.

First and Second Parts

The first part of this interview (on “Getting Started”) is linked here.

The second part of this interview (on “The Concept & The Human Element”) is linked here.

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