Detroit worker grouses on tax-paid grant: ‘Bailout would have been better’

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The Obama administration on Friday stepped forward and announced millions in grant dollars to give to financially failing Detroit — but even that taxpayer dole-out may not prove acceptable to some of the city’s workers, who instead wanted a full-scale bailout.

“Something is better than nothing,” said Bridgette Shephard, 47, a social worker in Detroit, Fox News reported. “A bailout would have been better, but if we can sustain some of our needs with grants, that would be a start. Let’s take it. Whatever kind of money it is to benefit the city, I’m all for it.”

The city faces $18 billion of debt. The Obama administration said it found $100 million of untapped funds, but CNN reported Friday morning that the federal handout could be as much as $300 million.

Four White House officials — top economic adviser Gene Sperling, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan — are set to discuss Detroit’s future in a closed-door meeting on Friday at Wayne State University with the governor and with the city’s appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. Also due to attend: Mayor Dave Bing and several business leaders, Fox News said.

Undoubtedly, part of the discussions with be the disbursement of $100 million of federal taxpayer dollars that are being sent the city’s way, via a grant ordered by the Obama administration. Mr. Sperling said the administration scoured the budget to find untapped dollars that “either had not flowed, or had not gotten out, or not directed to the top priorities for Detroit,” Fox News reported.

That’s just a drop in the bucket of the city’s debt, however.

The Obama administration has stated several times that no Chrysler-like and General Motors-type bailout is headed to Detroit.

The $100 million of federal funds breaks down this way: $65 million comes from Community Development Block Grants and will go toward blight eradication. Another $25 million comes from public-private programs for building demolition. And $11 million more come from funds for working families to find them safe neighborhoods.

On Friday, Mr. Holder is expected to announce another $3 million for Detroit to hire police, and $25 million to hire firefighters and buy new firefighting equipment.

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