DETROIT — The federal judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy said he plans to take a bus tour of the city for an up-close look at conditions, but he insists that the tour's date and route be kept confidential.
A lawyer representing the city, Robert Hertzberg, said he and another lawyer took a three-hour tour Wednesday and assured bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the trip would be safe.
Nevertheless, Rhodes questioned whether the date, time and tour route could be kept a secret. He asked a lawyer for bond insurer Assured Guaranty, which is objecting to the tour, for his personal commitment to keep tour details secret.
"We're talking about our personal safety here," Rhodes said.
Rhodes said details of the tour must be worked out before he issues an order on the matter.
City officials have proposed the tour to show Rhodes the city's blight and other conditions in advance of a trial to confirm the city's restructuring plan. The plan includes money for blight remediation and public-safety improvements.
Hertzberg suggested Rhodes' view of the city would change after the tour.
"It gives you context," he said. "You need to witness this. You need to see what's going on."
But some of the city's creditors have argued that the bus tour concept is irrelevant to the plan confirmation hearing — scheduled to start Aug. 14 to confirm Detroit's plan to restructure debts of about $18 billion — and potentially misleading and improper. The trial is expected to stretch through Sept. 23.