Bankruptcy judge warns attorneys about sharing incomplete vote results

Bankruptcy judge warns attorneys about sharing incomplete vote results

At the end of today’s status conference in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, Judge Steven Rhodes had a warning for the city attorneys: stop sharing information about the vote on the Plan of Adjustment, but if results are publicized, make sure they’re complete and accurate.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr told reporters at the Mackinac Policy Conference that early voting was about 2 to 1 in favor of the plan.

Rhodes, after several hours of arguments and a few decisions on bankruptcy issues, specifically addressed Heather Lennox, a Jones Day attorney who represents the city and is Orr’s former law partner.

“I have an issue regarding leaking to the press and public the interim results on balloting. I think I read somewhere not too long ago that the balloting was coming in two-to-one in favor. I would strongly suggest neither the balloting agent nor the city provide any interim balloting information at all until the final certification,” Rhodes said. “If you do provide any public information about it, it should be complete and accurate information so that it discloses not just the count of the votes but the total of the claims on each side of the vote because both are obviously important under the bankruptcy code. But I don’t suggest that. My suggestion is not to disclose anything until the final ballot.”

Lennox responded, “That was an unfortunate remark to the press. It was immediately addressed, and we don’t expect it to be happening again.”

Voting is ongoing on the Plan of Adjustment for the city’s 32,000 pensioners — that’s active employees, former employees who vested, retirees and surviving spouses. Without a favorable vote from the pensioners, the “grand bargain” money for pensions goes away. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Gov. Rick Snyder and leaders of several retiree groups and unions are urging a “yes” vote.

But some retirees object to any cuts at all and are voting “no.”

In order for the pensioners vote to be considered “in favor” of the plan, the ballots submitted must be a majority in favor of the plan. The votes in favor also must represent two-thirds of the total amounts of claims’ value, counted from the votes cast.

Voting concludes on July 11.