On June 26, U.S. bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes agreed to hear a motion to protect the personal information of over 20,000 of the city of Detroit’s retirees.
Bond insurer Syncora Guarantee Inc. is demanding the information as part of the discovery process ahead of an August trial of the city’s plan for reducing $18 billion in debt, as reported by MLive.
Retired city workers would face pension cuts under the plan, a settlement called the “Grand Bargain” which $466 million from private funds and $194 million from the state of Michigan would keep the reduction in retirement checks under 20 percent.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has supported the Grand Bargain, said he will oppose Syncora’s demand for access for retiree financial information.
“Detroit’s retired cops and firefighters worked all their lives to protect us and now their privacy needs to be protected,” Schuette said.
The city argued in its motion for a protective order: “Although it is still early, Syncora’s outsized approach to discovery has shown it will stop at nothing to sabotage the Grand Bargain and derail the City’s Plan of Adjustment.”
Syncora has served the city with 80 document requests, some of which Rhodes called “unreasonable,” according to the Detroit News.
“The only possible reason for this outrageous request is that Syncora is attempting to gain a litigation advantage by harassing, oppressing and embarrassing the city and it retirees,” city attorney Deborah Kovsky-Apap said.
Syncora attorney William Arnault said they would accept information about retiree finances that does not identify them by name and simply lists the town they live in.
“In short, we are trying to determine the extent of the city’s knowledge regarding the location and financial position of the city’s retirees,” Arnault wrote in an email to city attorneys.
Detroit attorney Greg Shumaker replied to Syncora’s legal team in an email that the request for personal financial standing is “irrelevant, overly burdensome and personally intrusive information.”
As previously reported in The Inquisitr, retired police and firefighters received average payments of $30,607 in 2012 and general city workers received $19,213.
Detroit declared bankruptcy in July 2013, becoming the largest U.S. city to do so.
Some people are crying foul over pension cuts while the city is still planning to build a new hockey stadium for the Detroit Red Wings. The $450 million arena would be funded with about two-thirds of tax-payer money.
Dorothea Harris, a 63-year old retired housing department supervisor who receives around $20,000 a year from her pension, was not happy that it would be cut, saying, “I already did the work. The State Constitution guaranteed my pension.”
[Image via detroit.about.com]