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December 19, 2014

Trading art for city's future

Why have we been stubborn about the issue of using Detroit's assets stored at the DIA to improve Detroit Public Schools (DPS)?

Its about the future of the city and it's citizens. Our first thoughts concerning the art was it should not be sold and under Chapter 9 bankruptcy law the city was not obligated to sell the collection to pay debts so the art collection could be left in tact.

We then went through a mental exercise assuming Detroit was a new city sitting on $10 billion in assets and it was our job to recommend the best use of the funds. The art was never fully appraised but a recent article in the Detroit Free Press indicated the Ford House sold one piece of art in 2013 for $100 million.
Per The article, "Mullins said Ford House officials didn't release news of the sale when it occurred for fear of causing further problems for the DIA, which by then was at the center of the bankruptcy debate. DIA director Graham Beal, who was unaware of the Cézanne sale until recently, agreed that the publicity and price would have emboldened creditors — or the emergency manager's office — in their arguments against the museum's absolutist stance against selling art.". $100M for Cézanne painting? Ford House couldn't refuse, December 19, 2014
Once again the focus was on saving the DIA and not the city.

We concluded the last thing to consider was buying art. It was wiser to invest in the city's infrastructure that would enable the city and its citizens to grow and prosper. Schools are a part of the infrastructure.

In order to accomplish a level of prosperity, including a solid tax base, it is necessary to have a solid middle class and that will not happen without a good school system. Middle class families will not move to Detroit if its schools are under performing.

DPS is in need of improvement and it will take time, disciplined oversight, a solid plan and plenty of money. Realistically it will take a good part of a decade to turn DPS around. Expecting a total turn around in less time is not realistic. Progress will be seen quickly but a complete turn around will take longer.

The good news with such a plan is there is no need for a fire sale of all the art. It can be sold as needed over a period of years. More

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