Detroit bankruptcy plan of adjustment approved; what's next?

By Roger Weber - Reporter

DETROIT - Though some retirees have cried foul about their pensions being frozen or trimmed, the overwhelming majority voted yes.

Among them is Dorothy Banks, who worked 30 years for the city of Detroit.

"It makes me feel better about my own decision, really. I didn't want to feel like the Lone Ranger here, but I had made a decision based on what I thought was good for me as well as what I thought was good for the city," she said.

The vote was crucial in preserving the "grand bargain" and avoiding deeper cuts. However, bankruptcy lawyer Doug Bernstein, of Plunkett Cooney, says nothing is signed, sealed and delivered until Judge Steven Rhodes says it is.

"Judge Rhodes has proven time and again he's not a rubber band for anything. He's going to consider whether or not the bankruptcy laws have been met," said Bernstein.

Starting next month Rhodes will preside over a trial on whether he should confirm the city's plan of adjustment.

"Is it fair and equitable? Does it not unfairly discriminate among classes of creditors? And most important, probably, is it feasible?" said Bernstein.

Bond insurers Syncora and FGIC have billions of dollars at stake. They will argue that pensioners are getting preferential treatment.

"(They will argue) that there can be discrimination among class, provided there's a good reason for doing so, and it will be up to the city to demonstrate that," said Bernstein.

The city is expected to call 30 witnesses. The trial could last five weeks.

"At that point he decides whether or not the plan has met all the elements and whether or not it should be confirmed," said Bernstein.

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