Detroit’s pensioners — in their handwritten words — weigh in on bankruptcy court

Detroit’s pensioners — in their handwritten words — weigh in on bankruptcy court

Objections are currently getting accepted by Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes  to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s Plan of Adjustment. While highly-paid lawyers make formal filings in legalese, many of the city’s elderly pensioners are taking the time to compose hand-written letters to Rhodes.

Here is a sampling of what’s been filed so far:

Retired Detroit Water and Sewerage Employee Robert Cox pleads with the judge to keep in mind the rising costs of basic necessities and that the proposed 34 percent reduction in his benefits would cause financial hardships for him and his family.



Retiree David White is an octogenarian who worked for Detroit for a quarter of a century.  His wife is also a retiree from the city. He explains to Rhodes that he and his wife did not cause the bankruptcy and at his age starting over is impossible. Therefore cutting their benefits would “be traumatic and devastating.”



Mattie Johnson, of Detroit, worked for the city for more than three decades. Johnson tells the court that the proposed reduction in benefits would become a shell game. If the pension is reduced, Johnson says she would have to seek other public benefits such as food stamps.

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Elouis Abram tells the judge that between the loss of the pensioners’ health care plan and the proposed 34 percent benefit reduction, he does not know where to turn. Abram itemizes how much more he now has to pay for health care for his multiple medical conditions.  Abram says he can’t believe how poorly senior citizens have been treated.



Retiree Joyce Johnson-Jones asks Rhodes for “mercy” when it comes to cutting retiree benefits. She attributes the loss of her house to previous cuts made by Mayors Kwame Kilpatrick and Dave Bing.

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The 75-year-old Frances Teague tells the court that cuts to her pension would be devastating to her and her mentally challenged husband who suffers from dementia.  She points out that many people make career choices based on benefits to be received later in life.

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Objection letters pulled from here:

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  • Ken Gray

    I am a retiree from DWSD. I have seen the foolish financial mistakes made by all the Mayors starting with Coleman Young to Bing. We worked and saved dispite the political foolery and corruption. yet now these crooks come at us again with lies to steal from us once more. I wish the retirees and the workers understood that this is life or death we are facing if Kevin Orr is about to complete this robbery. This will spread across the country as other Cities politicians will attempt to follow this example to wipeout all debts owed Joe citizen. We are in the fight for our very lives and if there is a God in heaven we will prevail. Ken Gray

  • Rivka Freeman

    It’s a problem that people think they will have a pension so they don’t save.. Every one must start thinking like a contracted worker, be frugal and go vegan so you don’t need a nursing home when you get old. The good old days are gone, the baby boomers need everything.