Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ford to City: Drop Dead

Can I connect the passing of President Ford to Pittsburgh? It may be a little tenuous, but you bet. If you ever think relations between Pittsburgh, the ICA and/or the Act 47 team are dicey. President Ford is responsible for one of the sharpest headlines ever run in an American newspaper. As New York City teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and seeking federal help, The New York Daily News ran the headline Ford to City: Drop Dead.

New York City was arguably worse off than Pittsburgh. At the time it could not actually file for bankruptcy because the laws governing Chapter 9 (municipal) bankruptcy required that a filer negotiate with every creditor prior to entering a bankruptcy claim. The sheer size of a municipality such as NYC, with innumerable potential creditors, made that an impossible prerequisite. Bankruptcy code has been modified to prevent that being an issue in itself. New York State actually then passed legislation that would nominally prevent NYC from being allowed to declare bankruptcy... but New York City would fail to make certain bond payments and so it would go down in history as a technical bankruptcy no matter and eventualy the feds did come in to assist the city. The Municipal Assistance Corporation, which was put in place to oversee NYC's finances is in some ways the progenitor of the city's current ICA.

And President Ford did come to speak at the Pittsburgh Economic Club in 1976.


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