A number of Detroit pensioners have asked us whether they should vote “Yes” or “No” on the so-called “Grand Bargain”. While as CFDF president, I explained that I am not a city retiree, I also explained that my mother was. For that reason, I agreed to share the advice that I, and the membership of CFDF, believe would have been in my mom’s and other retiree’s best interest.
I begin stating that I have read the voluminous 3″ thick document (no average senior citizen will likely ever read it or understand its complex legalese). I have also reviewed the proposed ballot received, as well as its so-called claw back repayment provision. Having said that, I am convinced that the “Grand Bargain” would not have been a bargain for my mom, moreover, its claw back is entirely arbitrary and horrible deal for the city’s retirees. Instead, I see “Bargain” as a proposal which shifts responsibility to the most vulnerable as if somehow retirees are responsible for the city’s “phony” malaise.
The first glaring anomaly is that the “bargain” requires retirees to waive essential constitutional rights to sue the State or City forever. This means that even if currently pending federal lawsuits are successful and the EM law struck down as unconsitutional, retirees will have consented not to sue and will have agreed to cut their own income and eliminate overwhelmingly their own generationally promised benefits. Why, because the pension obligation is a state mandated constitutional obligation. This requirement alone should cause a retiree to question how grand the “Bargain” truly is.
Next, the claw back (repayment for some out-of-the-blue alleged overpayment purported received by every retiree) is arbitrary and selectively designed to co-op a selected group of retirees and not all retirees. The truth is the “bargain” is really a subliminal deal made necessary to get the state money necessary to fund the transfer of the DIA and its art assets into others hands thus allowing it to spin off from the control of the City to a private non-profit and away from the people of Detroit.
Finally, the “bargain” provides for a draconian reduction in benefits to retirees who are already barely living and already choosing between food and medicine. In short, it will be a license to impoverish yourself. It is no secret that Citizens for Detroit’s Future has long stated that this entire bankruptcy was phony, contrived and intended to transfer the wealth of the City. This last piece asking pensioners to impoverish themselves takes advantage of those who had relied on the city’s promise for decades. Conservatives want seniors to consent to cut their own throat, a request which in my view, is absurd.
For these and a bevy of other unspoken reasons too numerous to list in this short post, I would have urged my own mother to vote “NO” as the “Bargain” would have been no bargain for her. If City of Detroit’s official’s want to consent to transfer the city’s wealth, it should not be on her back. In my view, conservative extremists are going to do what ever they want to do…they would just would like to have your consent to later point to it and say “well you agreed” ! – – PLEASE SHARE THIS EMAIL –
Citizens for Detroit’s Future,
Tom Barrow, President