Judge's Doodle Was Key to Detroit Bankruptcy Deal
Words 'art' and 'pension' and a few arrows did the trick
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2014 8:14 AM CST
Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(Newser) – The plan approved by a judge yesterday to get Detroit out of bankruptcy is, as you'd expect, a complicated thing. But both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal say the deal had the simplest of origins:

  • Journal: It "started with a doodle on a legal pad. U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, who had been appointed as the chief federal mediator in the nation’s largest municipal-bankruptcy case, wrote the word 'art' on the pad and drew a box around it. Then he drew an arrow from the box to where he had written the word 'pensions.'

  • Times: "Not long after the city filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, Judge Rosen had jotted a note to himself—one some involved now point to as a historic document—with the words 'state,' 'art' and 'pensions' and arrows between them."
The result was what's now known as the "grand bargain" involving the Detroit Institute of Arts, explains AP. Rosen convinced major foundations and corporations to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to a fund that, along with money from the state, goes to defray pension cuts to Detroit retirees. In exchange, the DIA's art collection is transferred to a trust and thus preserved.