Archive: The Grand Bargain
Graham Beal, Director of the Detroit Institute of Art, talks with WDET's Craig Fahle about its pledge to raise...
In December, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan set up an online collection site for donations toward Detroit's pensions,...
Not everyone will agree with the favorable tone Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes takes in today's piece about the...
Government restructuring. Pensions. Financial creditors. Unions. The city's restructuring plan, expected within days, should address those four factors, the...
“Keeping your audience abreast of a complex financial deal is hard work,” The Detroit News writes today, continuing, Detroit Institute...
What’s the status of the grand bargain to provide $865 million from the Detroit Institute of Arts, foundations and...in DIA
The Detroit Institute of Arts redesigned the space at Kresge Court to make it more of a tranquil, arty...
Detroit’s “grand bargain” cost political capital in Lansing, former lawmaker says.
In a 60-page briefing filed this afternoon, bond insurer Syncora called the Detroit bankruptcy’s grand bargain “fraudulent,” and attacked the court mediators who helped craft it, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Rosen.
The grand bargain, Syncora argues, gives illegal, favorable treatment to one group of the city’s creditors — the pensioners — as they are the only creditors who benefit from the grand bargain’s $660 million in state and private money. Syncora also objects to the city retaining the Detroit Institute of Art collection instead of selling it to pay at least part of its $18 billion debt.
“The plain truth is that the mediators in this case acted improperly by orchestrating a settlement that alienates the City’s most valuable assets for the sole benefit of one creditor group,” Syncora attorneys write. “Moreover, if approved, the DIA Settlement will in essence give rise to a judicially sanctioned, fraudulent transfer.”
Syncora stands to lose about $400 million in the bankruptcy case, and has objected at many turns of the 13-month-old case. (Incidentally, Syncora’s latest objection cites as a source a NextChapterDetroit.com post, “Detroit’s Chief Mediator: Judge Gerald Rosen speaks about the bankruptcy process:.)
Detroit’s pensioners passed the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan — including cuts to their monthly payments, cost-of-living allowances and health care benefits — by wide margins, according to court documents filed last night.
The favorable vote from both the police and fire fighters as well as non-uniform, general service workers means the “grand bargain” money becomes available to fund pensions. The deal includes $195 million from the state, $366 from private foundations and $100 million pledged by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Terms of the grand bargain mean that museum’s collection cannot be sold to pay creditors and that pensioners agree to drop and not file in the future litigation related to the bankruptcy or the emergency manager law.
Of those who voted, about 82 percent of police and fire pensioners and 73 percent of general service workers voted to accept the plan. About half of those pensioners eligible to vote actually voted, according to court records. For the general service pensioners, the terms include 4.5 percent cuts to monthly payments, an elimination of cost-of-living increases and payback of some money they already received in annuity funds. For police and fire, monthly pensions are untouched but cost-of-living increases are cut.
Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will consider the results during the confirmation hearing on the plan, scheduled to begin Aug. 14.
The city met its July 21 deadline by 33 minutes, filing the vote results in bankruptcy court at 11:27 p.m. EDT.
Another seven corporations and two foundations are contributing nearly $27 million toward the Detroit Institute of Arts’ $100 million portion of the grand bargain,
At a new conference this morning at the museum, representatives from the Roger S. Penske and Penske Corporation, Quicken Loans and the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, DTE Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), Meijer, Comerica Bank, and Consumers Energy as well as the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Delta Air Lines Foundation made the announcement.
The “grand bargain” is the combination of state money ($195 million), philanthropic funding ($366 million pledged from 10 foundations), and the DIA’s commitment to raise money for Detroit’s two pension funds. The money becomes available as long as the city’s pensioners approve the Plan of Adjustment, which includes giving up the ability to litigate over provisions of the bankruptcy and the state’s emergency manager law. In exchange, the city agrees not to sell the museum’s artwork to raise funds for creditors.
“We are extremely pleased to see this very generous corporate support for the grand bargain and City of Detroit pensioners from these major Michigan businesses,” DIA Board Chairman Eugene A. Gargaro Jr., said in a statement. “They all have a long history of civic and community support and these leadership pledges demonstrate their strong commitment to Detroit’s future. We thank them for helping the DIA to fulfill its $100 million Grand Bargain commitment and know that other donors will join in this great success story for our city and our state.”
The $26.8 million comprises $10 million from Roger S. Penske and Penske Corporation, $5 million from DTE Energy, $5 million from Quicken Loans and the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, $2.5 million from BCBSM, $1 million from Meijer, $1 million from Comerica Bank, $1 million from JPMorgan Chase, $800,000 from Consumers Energy and $500,000 from Delta Air Lines Foundation.
With the new funds, the DIA has reached nearly 80 percent of its $100 million commitment, officials said.
As we’ve reported, the so-called “grand bargain” isn’t considered so grand by many people. Here, our Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner The Michigan Citizen opines about why the deal isn’t so great, calling out city council members and Detroit legislators for their support. “This governor put Orr and Orr’s former law firm Jones Day in place to push Detroit into bankruptcy, strip retirees of health benefits, threaten retirees to vote their way, take a portion of retirees’ pension; and redirect every viable asset of the city so it is under control of some authority — not the people’s duly elected representatives. … But when the people have representatives like Spivey and Sheffield, Stallworth and Durhal —who are happiest doing the governor’s dirty work — the people really haven’t got much.” Read more here.
Gov. Rick Snyder has signed the legislation that authorizes the state’s $195 million contribution to the Detroit bankruptcy settlement and creates additional oversight of the city’s finances and operations. The governor called the settlement, part of the “grand bargain,” a good deal for taxpayers because it sets the stage for the city’s comeback.
“This is about how not just Detroit but the spirit of Michigan came back,” Snyder said at the signing, held at the Globe Building near the Detroit Riverfront, which is under construction to become a Department of Natural Resources recreation center. “While we celebrate today, let’s recognize that there’s more work to be done.”
The governor said the day Detroit filed bankruptcy could be the “darkest chapter” in the city’s history, but the Governor says the taxpayer donation shows the entire state is behind the Detroit recovery effort. “Detroit, Michigan, means something special. It’s not Detroit versus Michigan or Michigan versus Detroit. It’s Detroit, Michigan, and we should hold our heads proud,” he said to applause.
There are conditions attached to the state contribution– including a commission that will supervise Detroit’s contracts and finances for years into the future. The money, along with hundreds of millions donated by businesses and foundations, will be used to mitigate cuts to pension benefits in the bankruptcy process. But pensioners still have to approve the deal. In exchange, they’d give up their rights to sue for their full benefits or other related issues.
“A ‘yes’ vote from pensioners is a vote for their own well being,” he said, “and the continuation of a message that is greater than bankruptcy.”
House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) said the Legislature’s passage of the “grand bargain” bills represented how connected the state was in helping Detroit. “We may come from different peninsulas, but as we stand here today, we are all one Michigan,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, (R-Monroe), who showed off his made-in-Detroit Shinola watch, said one of the reasons providing state funding for Detroit’s pensions was important was because city workers live throughout the state “in all 83 counties.” (Here’s a map of where they live)
Rep. Thomas Stallworth (D-Detroit) said the city’s bankruptcy, in part, represents failure on the part of political leadership for the people of Detroit. He urged pensioners to vote “yes” on the Plan of Adjustment, saying it represents the “best possible deal for the city.”
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan echoed the themes of voting yes, bipartisanship and “coming together.” He said, “What you have done with this bill is give us a fresh chance,” and it “will turn out to be one of the proudest things you’e done.”
As he did last week at the news conference at the Detroit Institute of Arts where the Detroit Three automakers announced their $26 million contribution to the “grand bargain” , U.S. District Chief Judge Gerald Rosen spoke. He is considered the architect of the “grand bargain” and has led the mediation efforts in the bankruptcy case.
“This is leadership, not just bi-partisan, but the three branches of government coming together,” Rosen said. “This isn’t a final victory lap. We’ve got a couple more laps to run.”
Also as he did last week, Rosen lauded Don Taylor and Shirley Lightsey, who head up police/fire and non-uniform retiree groups respectively.
Lightsey spoke directly to pensioners, saying “If you let that (grand bargain) money go and it’s off the table, you will have no sympathy from anyone. … Think about your decision. This is something you are going to have to live with.”
Lightsey also repeated her phrase that has been printed on buttons worn by some in the crowd of about 200. “We can’t eat principles, and uncertainty does not pay the bills.”
-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda and Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta
Here’s audio of Rick Pluta’s report.