Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

December 5, 2013

Stakes now even higher for retirees in Detroit

(Continued)

Lightsey, 79, who worked in the water department and leads the Detroit Retired City Employees Association from her home in Southfield, said she doesn’t consider Rhodes’ decision this week as the last word.

Orr and his team “are ledger-driven, red ink, black ink people,” she said. “Retirees did everything they were supposed to do. They were not a drain on the system. They worked. They retired. Not one penny should be touched.”

Orr said he’s not heartless. He said he keeps a recording in his briefcase of uneasy retirees who spoke at a September court hearing.

“No one is more aware of the hardship that this is going to cause to a number of different people than me,” Orr told radio station WWJ on Wednesday.

But the reality, he added, is inescapable: “The city has no cash on hand to pay the magnitude of the debt we have.”

The narrow issue for the judge was whether Detroit met key steps to be eligible to stay in bankruptcy court and extinguish its debt. Rhodes surprised many by declaring public pensions are like any contract that can be broken in bankruptcy, even if states have protected them in their constitutions.

His opinion isn’t binding in any other case, but it at least cracks the door open for local governments or bankruptcy judges grappling with pensions elsewhere in the U.S. At least six states besides Michigan have some constitutional protections, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

“He took a step further than anyone has yet. But it’s just a judge who is applying federal law and giving his opinion,” said Michael Sweet, a bankruptcy attorney who has advised local governments in California.

He believes Rhodes’ message has a pragmatic purpose for Detroit and lawyers representing pensioners: Get talking.

Text Only
Local News
  • McCarter.jpg Some lawmakers donate pay

    Illinois lawmakers restoring their pay after years of furlough days has prompted some state representatives to give back to their communities — a move some local lawmakers call a political one.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Distance learning catching on in area

    In what appears to be a growing trend among rural school districts, a third area school district may join an existing academic cooperative.

    July 27, 2014

  • Joshua Robison.jpg Opinion: God doesn't care about party affiliation

    Reflecting on what we politely refer to in this country as “political discourse,” I am often struck by how convinced many people seem to be that their sides' specific policies and personalities are the only way to save us all from utter ruin.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ron W.jpg Opinion: Column break just that -- a break

    ‘Hey, Ron. You didn’t have a column this week. What’s the deal? It’s the reason I buy a paper on Thursdays.”

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Isom.jpg Opinion: It's about time

    Finally, someone else speaks up and it’s about time.
    I applaud Ron Worman and welcome him to take a seat on my bandwagon. His addressing the proliferation of signs of every description, virtually everywhere one looks, is a welcome additional voice — even though rare.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Feds: Effingham County was meeting place for underage sex tryst

    An Ohio man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he traveled out of state to meet an underage person in Effingham County for sexual activity.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jail inmate attempts suicide

    An unscheduled cell check is credited for saving the life of an Effingham County Jail inmate who tried to hang himself early Thursday morning.

    July 25, 2014

  • Woman injured in Farina collision

    An accident on Washington Street sent one driver to the hospital Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • Driver crashes after being forced off road

    A driver crashed after being run off the road by a semi on Interstate 70.

    July 25, 2014

  • Rollover on I-70 sends one to hospital

    An accident on Interstate-70 sent one traveler to the hospital.

    July 25, 2014

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.