Bankruptcy court prepares to form Detroit retiree committee

Committee may play pivotal role in bankruptcy proceedings

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - Dozens of Detroit city retirees joined attorneys Tuesday for interviews to become members of the retirees committee that will take part in the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy case.

The retirees want to add their voice to the court's work in hopes it will protect their pensions.  Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said the city's pension plans are dramatically underfunded.

Detroit fire department retiree Thomas Suchora was one of those seeking a committee post.

"Thirty-six years and you have a pension that you thought you wee going to get and then you lose part of it and how much do you lose, this is very devastating," Suchora said.

Cheryl Smith is a retired former police union vice-president. She said she hopes the city's massive debts will not be paid for by retirees.

"Not only am I a police officer, but my spouse is a police officer too. So this hits doubly hard.  This is going to be a travesty if they take anything away," Smith said.

Ray Reynolds Graves is a former bankruptcy judge who said the retiree committee could be among the most important in the Chapter 9 proceedings.

"They could propose a plan that Mr. Orr might accept that would protect them and the axe would fall on other parties," Graves said.

As many as 100 people appeared at court Tuesday in hopes of becoming members of the retiree committee.

Those who will be chosen are expected to be notified later in the week.

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