Undecided: Some pensioners haven’t determined their vote

June 12th, 2014

Detroit’s 32, 000 pensioners started getting their ballots a few weeks ago to have their say on the city’s Plan of Adjustment. Without a “yes” vote from retirees, the “Grand Bargain” to help fund pensions, which includes money from the state and foundation, disappears.

But with a “yes” vote, the pensioners are agreeing to nearly five percent cuts to their monthly payments and increasing their out-of-pocket health care costs. Some groups are urging a “no” vote.

The General Retirement System organized meetings where attorneys explained just what non-uniform city retirees are facing. But for some, the gathering did not help them make up their minds. Louis Griffin spent 30 years with the health department. His biggest question is if his vote actually matters.

“Well, in regard to voting? I don’t know. I was sitting in there and I said maybe I just won’t vote period. For what purpose? I’m damned if I do, I’m damned if I don’t so what’s the purpose of me voting,” he says.

Pensioners have a July 11 deadline to return their ballots. Former transportation department security supervisor Bernadine Jones says hers will be in the mail next week. “Saturday is my decision day between yoga, meditation, praying and deciding, writing it down, sending it out,” Jones says.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is urging “yes” votes, warning of severe cuts without the grand bargain money.

-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda

@WDETSandra and nextchapter@wdet.org