Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Detroit Pensioners Speak Out

I have nothing but admiration for the pensioners and other citizens who have objected in court to this bankruptcy. It is a daunting task for a non-lawyer to step into federal court and to speak out for THEIR OWN MONEY that they earned and put away! Who knew back then that America could come to this? That these vultures of banks and billionaires would match up with corrupt politicians and appointees to steal pensions in the broad daylight across the US and the world? Who could have imagined that the predatory mortgages and the illegal swaps that have all collapsed would be spun by a vicious media to be put on the backs of many seniors who already live dangerously close to poverty?

In the face of this - their medical being cut or outright stolen at the very time they counted on it and need it most, they stand up in the court and fight back. Some are even going the distance and calling witnesses. Rock on pensioners of Detroit.

They march in the face of medical bills that will bankrupt them. They are skipping doctor's appointments and medications they cannot afford anymore. This may kill them but they still object in court. In the face of these jackals trying to steal sometimes $100,000 of THEIR MONEY from the annuities they speak out. 

Some objections are on handwritten sheets of paper, others pages of well researched legal work, the best they can - not being able to find a lawyer or afford one. Some pensioners look for lawyers and don't get calls back. Abandoned by the court system (the same court system that once hired Orr), "elected" officials, unions, their pension funds, "represented" by the same firm that did Orr's Chrysler bankruptcy, these relentless seniors stand up and yell RICO, they tell the truth about the goings-on about the water dept, the dept. of human services - all the low down crap they saw as employees and still keep up on. As a younger person, I thank them all for their example of resilience.  

Below I chose some of pensioners' (and others') well written and often bitingly funny objections to share. I know the candy coated mainstream press would rather they shut up - this is a large group that has filed by now over 1,000 objections. In the mainstream press it says they just voted yes and the grand (theft) bargain makes it all good. Here it says their future depends on one group of greedy pigs resolving a fight with another group of greedy pigs. Hell no. Seniors deserve respect, not attempts on their lives by stealing their health, cutting meager income and placing debt on them from unethical theft by banks and billionaires. 

You can find these excerpts here and if you like, read their original objections on the KCC website searching by the docket number next to each objectors' name. Note that Jones Day (not the City - never, never use "Jones Day" and "the City" interchangeably) does not address every single part of each person's objection. It is unclear to me how they picked. Perhaps using a Magic 8 Ball.
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because the Plan is the result of a "grand experiment in pension theft by legal means" planned by Jones Day." L. Mulder PDF p128
  • "Two objecting parties allege generally that the plan violated Michigan Public Act 344 of 1945, the Blighted Area Rehabilitation Act M.C.L. section 125.71 by not providing for the involvement of residents and interested parties in blight remediation and rehabilitation." (M. Thornton and D. Yee) p.71 [Note Detroit Future Cities/Detroit Works was at least partly started by R. Baron, who *oddly* now owns part of the riverfront.]
  • "Nevertheless, even though the City was under no obligation to collectively bargain with retirees, as set forth above, the City did, in fact, negotiate extensively with the Retiree Committee (together with the other Retiree Representatives) and obtained its agreement on the terms of the Plan, including the proposed reductions in pension and OPEB benefits." PDF page 92 [Please note: The retiree committee was hand picked, not elected by the retirees. Um...]
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) the City is not maximizing revenues from City-owned property and (b) the amount the City is paying in professional fees shows that the City can afford to pay creditors more than what is proposed under the Plan." C. McClellan, p.97
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because it discriminates unfairly against Pension Claims and favors "the Banks." C. Shaw, PDF page 93
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) the Plan discriminates unfairly against retiree Claims and favors the Claims of other unsecured creditors, particularly "financial institutions;" PDF page 94, S. Santiestevan
  • "The objecting party argues that the City should sell the DIA Collection to increase creditor recoveries and asserts that the City has given "tax breaks to [those] who can afford to pay taxes" and sold City-owned land "for peanuts to those who can afford to pay full price." S. Davis, PDF page 96
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) "the so-called unfunded pension is mostly due to the national economic downturn from 2008 and continuing to date" and that "[m]any other pension funds (private and public) have experienced the same or worse in consequence;" M. Smith,  PDF p96
  • "The objecting party argues that the City should "make the banks pay" rather than impairing the Claims of retirees." L. Appling, PDF page 98
  • " (g) the DIA Settlement constitutes an "illusory promise" that violates Michigan contract law and section 943(b) of the Bankruptcy Code; and (h) the Plan voting process lacked integrity." J. Fields, PDF page 99
  • "(j) the balloting process was "a naked attempt by the Debtor to secure a 'yes' vote." Dennis Taubitz,  PDF page 100
  • "c) PA 436 violates the Michigan and United States constitutions and the federal Voting Rights Act. " William Ochadleus, PDF page 101
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because the Plan fails to (a) "account for the ongoing foreclosure crisis in Detroit" and, as a result, the Plan "probably underestimate[s] the property tax receipts over the next 20 years, casting doubt on the viability of the Plan of Adjustment;" (b) "bring the parties that profited immensely during the run-up to the housing crisis and onset of the Great Recession to the table to negotiate a general reduction in the principal owed on home mortgages in Detroit," which would stabilize property tax values; and (c) pursue unpaid property taxes of "banks and investment firms who owned properties that they had foreclosed upon." M. Shane, PDF page 104
  • "The objecting parties argue that...(b) City officials have used "coercion and intimidation" to "force" retirees to vote in favor of the Plan; and (c) City employees are not sufficiently represented by "the retiree union(s) and others responsible for representing the interest of the employees" in the chapter 9 case." M. Pelletier, L.Pelletier PDF p107
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) the 6.75% interest rate used in annuitizing ASF Recoupment payments for ASF Distribution Recipients who do not elect the lump-sum payment option is usurious; (b) the Retiree Committee has not adequately represented City retirees or informed retirees regarding the status of negotiations; and (c) the Plan depends upon the receipt of outside funding, which is uncertain, and does not require the City to "make up any shortfalls." F. Fabris PDF page 109
  • " (e) the Emergency Manager is "perpetrating a fraud by impersonating an elected official;" C. Turner, M. Smith, B. Magee, V. Magee, D. Yee, B. Yee, P. Mason, E. Mason, G. Jones, E. Griffin, W. Hill, J. Lovely, W. Blaney, V. Brown, T. Penson, C. Brooks, D. Williams, D. Roach, B. Myers-Florence, D. Williams, L. Millender, K. Henry, K. Hines, W. Davis, S. Thompkins. PDF page 114
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) the Emergency Manager lacked authority to file the City's chapter 9 petition; (b) the City's calculations regarding pension underfunding are unreliable; (c) the Michigan Constitution prohibits the impairment of pensions; (d) nothing in the Plan prohibits the City from further reducing pensions in the future; (e) modifications to the pension benefits of active employees constitute a "taking" without due process of law; (f) it was improper for KCC to count Plan votes in California because Detroit residents were unable to observe the vote-counting process; (g) because of the voting incentive offered jointly to Classes 10 and 11, the Plan's treatment of Pension Claims amounts to an unenforceable adhesion contract; (h) the Plan's non-consensual release provision is inappropriate; and (i) the "Grand Bargain" is an improper use of tobacco settlement funds. K. Crittendon PDF page 117
  • "The objecting parties argue that (a) the hearing on individual Plan objections was not a legitimate hearing, but rather was a "kangaroo judicial orchestrated show trial;" (b) the hearing regarding individual objections to eligibility also constituted a "judicial orchestrated meeting;" and (c) by holding "informal meeting[s]" rather than formal hearings, on individual Plan and eligibility objections, the Court violated the rights of creditors and objectors pursuant to the Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution." (MANY! objectors, see PDF page 120)
  • "The objecting parties argue that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) the Court lacks jurisdiction because the Emergency Manager lacked authority to file the City's chapter 9 petition; (b) the Emergency Manager engaged in fraudulent concealment, in violation of M.C.L. § 600.5855, by concealing his alleged lack of authority to file the City's chapter 9 petition" (MANY objectors see PDF p120) 
  • The objecting party argues that g) the Plan "requires the establishment of the City of  Detroit Oversight committee … which effectively takes all decision making away from the elected officials of the City of Detroit," in violation of then United States  Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (h) the Plan "requires negating the City Charter provision that the GRS Board currently makes all administrative, actuarial and investment related decisions for the GRS." E. Ball PDF p124
  • The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because (a) PA 436 is invalid, and the Emergency Manager lacked authority to file the City's chapter 9 petition; (b) the vote tabulation process lacked integrity because (i) votes on the Plan were tabulated by KCC in California, without creditor oversight, and (ii) ballot packets sent to retirees contained letters supporting the Plan but did not contain any letters opposing confirmation of the Plan; (c) the Plan is not in the best interests of creditors; (d) the City may not be able to survive as an "independent municipality" if the Plan is confirmed; (e) confirmation of the Plan would cause water and sewer rates to increase; (f) the City impermissibly reduced OPEB retirement benefits without Court approval; and (g) the Plan is the product of a conspiracy among the Emergency Manager, the State of Michigan, advisors to the City and "various banks" to enrich themselves at the expense of the citizens of Detroit. M. Bukowski PDF p127
  • "The objecting party argues that the Plan should not be confirmed because the City's payment of professional fees shows that the City is capable of increasing the recoveries on OPEB Claims under the Plan." p128 R. Danowski
Maybe this will all end up being heard with the abused Greek, Rhode Island and other pensioners at the Hague. If the pensioners live through this attack on the elderly by banks and billionaires (indeed I heard in court one man say his wife had a heart attack which he was sure was due to this situation) pensioners should be asking for many and expensive reparations for this fiasco by the global 1%. There could be a fleet of boats repossessed from the greedy pigs and raced in the Mackinac race with their old names "Wind..something" or "Sea...something" crossed out and renamed "Detroit Pensioners". Many of the buildings downtown will be given in the settlement and names of pensioners engraved over the doors. Pensioners can sign up for a time share of the greedy pigs' former homes in the Cayman Islands and fill them with the families of firefighters, rape counselors, garbage collectors and all the good people who worked so hard for so many years. Pack your bags and get your sea legs pensioners!


  1. I did not vote my ballot, agreeing to nothing, including the vote itself. It is my intention to get involved in a class action suit under the Michigan Constitution as soon as they start taking the money. These white collar looters will help themselves to the art, the real estate, the water system, and then congratulate themselves for making the retirees pay "their share".

  2. I feel that this entire circumstance to attack our pensions and annuities is nothing but a well orchestrated scam by Synder and Orr. Both are thieves!!! Synder attacked seniors with taxes and cancellation of our property tax credit. Now he puts Orr in there to attack us deeper to the core!! I never thought that I would see such a sad day in Detroit politics. The sad thing is they are destroying our lives!!!