Trending Topics >>
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Politics

Mad as Hell in Detroit

90126504-owner-the(Mike Ilitch)

On the Friday before Christmas, I was interviewing 15 members of the AFSCME Local 98 Retirees Executive Board when one man became impatient with my questions. In less than 700 words, Mark Phillips described the winners and losers in a city controlled by an emergency manager who has turned pensioners into creditors in bankruptcy court. —L.D.

Can we give you some facts, as opposed to you going around here asking questions about pensions? There’s a number of corporations in this city who owe back taxes. As retirees, we do not owe back taxes. OK.

The Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr, and the governor decided to give these people a pass. Which include, to give you a little history, Mr. Mike Ilitch. Ilitch, if you are not aware, is the owner of the Detroit Tigers. He owns the Detroit Red Wings. His wife owns the Motor City Casino. He owes back taxes. That’s revenue.

They just passed—the state passed a referendum just the other day—to build him a brand new hockey stadium in downtown Detroit, which will cost us, the taxpayers of Detroit. We are on the hook for 58 percent of it. OK. That’s lost revenue.

We look at that as not only lawfully wrong, we look at is it is definitely morally wrong. Cause what you have done is you have taken away the vote of the people of Michigan. Not just the city of Detroit. To take away our pensions.

Now the way we see it, they are looking to build Detroit up on the backs of retirees and taxpayers, pensioners. You understand?

And I’m going to say this. Just like Wilma said, she gets $3,000 [a month]. The majority of us get half of that. You understand?

You really want to know our feelings? We’re mad as hell, and we ain’t taking it no more. Print this in your paper. How the fuck you think we feel, they’re trying to take our pensions and our health care? That’s the sentiment of everybody in this room.

How the fuck you think we feel?

Let me also give you another little highlight. There is a provision within the state Constitution, now I didn’t say city, I said state, voters within the state of Michigan voted to say that pensioners should be able to maintain and keep their pensions until they die. You get that?

Now the governor and that House up there decided they’re going to go to the feds and trump that because you got these people that think the rich people should not pay and we should.

Because what Mike Ilitch doesn’t own downtown, another millionaire by the name of Dan Gilbert owns.

We don’t own nothing. We just pay our taxes.

Now if you going to strip us of our pensions, how the hell you think we going to pay our property taxes. That’s revenue that comes to the city.

How long you been in our fair city? You said a week, right? You seen the snow come, right? You seen that the streets were kind of snow-covered? You know why? They done laid off all the workers that move that snow.

That’s a benefit for us, but they don’t care.

So actually, Lou, you don’t have to ask any of us anything else because we done told you how we feel.

But I’ll give you another big hint.

The citizens of this state, again not this city, they had this emergency manager law, the citizens voted [in a statewide referendum] to cancel it.

What did the governor do? He went back to the Legislature, they met in secret session and passed a new emergency manager law granting the man even more power than he had.

And guess what? When people brought it up and said we want to vote, they said “no.” They say we passed a law, so it’s legal.

But we don’t see it as such.

We look at that as not only lawfully wrong, we look at is it is definitely morally wrong. Cause what you have done is you have taken away the vote of the people of Michigan. Not just the city of Detroit. To take away our pensions.

You asked what I did. I worked at the Department of Public Works. Thirty years. Hey, cleaning the snow. Moving the snow. Putting down streets. Fixing automobiles. The city cars, the garbage trucks, the whole nine yards.

What is my pension? I’m telling you I don’t make $3,000. The half of it.

With that, I’m going to get off my soap box and go home. Nice to meet you, Lou.


Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.


Like this article? Get more free!
We'll send you a round-up of the best of the Spectator's journalism and political commentary as well as special offers and information so you can take action on issues you care most about. Sign up today!

 

 

THE LATEST

 


[Environment]

A Fossil-Fueled Market Bubble

By Brett Fleishman

 

Why hasn’t Wall Street imploded over this yet? Well, remember how “nobody” could see the housing bubble coming?

Read

 


[Economics]

How to End California’s Water Crisis

By Polly Cleveland and Mason Gaffney

 

California farmers get their water free, or close to free. Any of us who have taken elementary economics should be shouting from the rooftops or blasting through cyberspace: if you make something free, you will get waste and shortages!

Read

 


[Media]

Good News and Bad News about News

By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A.
Collins

 

The news business does look better than it did not long ago. How about the actual quality of what’s being reported? It's generally bad.

Read

 


 
SUBSCRIBE!

 

83¢ an issue is our unconscionably low introductory rate. The Spectator is reader-supported and depends on you!

 

Click here for more details

 


[National Security]

A Tortured Twist on Ethics

By Yosef Brody

 

Why isn't the American Psychological Association pursuing ethics charges against psychologist John Leso for abuses he helped carry out at the Guantánamo prison?

Read

 


[Foreign Policy]

The Diplomatic Dance with Iran

By Chris Toensing

 

Iran might stumble but the Obama administration should take the greatest possible care not to trip its partner.

Read

 


[Economics]

A Long, Gilded Life

By Sam Pizzigati

 

The last link between America's plutocratic past and present has left us.

Read

 


[Politics]

No-Fault Gun Laws

By Peter Lindstrom

 

The increasing number of lax gun laws in many states are one reason all gun deaths (homicide, suicide and accident) been growing steadily since 2000.

Read

 


[Economics]

You Get What You Don’t Pay For

By Ryan Alexander

 

No matter how hard lawmakers try to close their eyes, click their heels, and hope for the best, they can’t make highway funding magically appear. But that doesn’t stop them fiddling and flailing as they burn through the Highway Trust Fund.

Read

 


[Politics]

America Has Long Been Twitchy about Its Sphere of Influence

By Jim Sleeper

 

The best reasons to impose strong sanctions against Russian-nationalist tyranny aren’t anthropological but liberal and, yes, geopolitical.

Read

 


 

GET MORE!

 

We'll send you the best of the Spectator every week.

 

Enter your email address below and sign up today!

 

 


 

 

  • Create an account
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.