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Federal Judge Describes, Then Supports Plot to Rob Detroit Pensioners

This is what it looks like when a federal judge declares a city bankrupt—to the surprise of its residents and elected officials.

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  • Exhibit 403, containing an email dated February 20, 2013, from Richard Baird, a consultant to the governor to Mr. Orr, stating: “Told [Mayor Bing] there were certain things I would not think we could agree to without your review, assessment and determination (such as keeping the executive team in its entirety). Will broker a meeting via note between you and the Mayor’s personal assistant who is not FOIA ble.” Ex. 403 (emphasis added). The Court finds that “FOIA” is a reference to the Freedom of Information Act. Generally, FOIA provides citizens with access to documents controlled by state or local governments. See M.C.L. § 15.231.
  • The Jones Day Pitch Book. As part of its “Pitch Presentation,” the Jones Day law firm presented, in part, the following playbook for the City’s road to chapter 9: (i) the difficulty of achieving an out of court settlement and steps to bolster the City’s ability to qualify for chapter 9 by establishing a good faith record of negotiations, Ex. 833 at 13; 16-18; 22-23; 28; (ii) the EM could be used as “political cover” for difficult decisions such as an ultimate chapter 9 filing, Ex. 833 at 16; (iii) warning that pre-chapter 9 asset monetization could implicate the chapter 9 eligibility requirement regarding insolvency, thus effectively advising the City against raising money in order to will itself into insolvency, Ex. 833 at 17; and (iv) describing protections under state law for retiree benefits and accrued pension obligations and how chapter 9 could be used as means to further cut back or compromise accrued pension obligations otherwise protected by the Michigan Constitution, Ex. 833 at 39; 41.
  • The State’s selection of a distinguished bankruptcy lawyer to be the emergency manager for Detroit. Orr Dep. Tr. 18:12-21:20, Sept. 16, 2013 (discussing how Mr. Orr came with the Law Firm in late January to pitch for the City’s restructuring work before a “restructuring team [of] advisors”); Baird Dep.Tr. 13:11-15:10, Oct. 10, 2013. During that pitch, Mr. Orr (among other lawyers that would be working on the proposed engagement) was presented primarily as a “bankruptcy and restructuring attorney.” Orr Dep. Tr. 21:3-6, Sept. 16, 2013; see also Bing Dep.Tr. 12:7-13:7, Oct. 14, 2013 (indicating that Baird explained to Mayor Bing that Baird was “impressed with him [Mr. Orr], that he had been part of the bankruptcy team representing Chrysler” and that Mr. Orr primarily had restructuring experience in the context of bankruptcy).
  • Jones Day provided 1,000 hours of service without charge to the City or the State to position itself for this retention. Ex. 860 at 1 (Email dated January 28, 2013, from Corinne Ball to Jeffrey Ellman, both of Jones Day, stating: “Just heard from Buckfire. . . . Strong advice not to mention 1000 hours except to say we don’t have major learning curve”). See also Eligibility Trial Tr. 103:23-109:17, November 5, 2013; (Dkt. #1584) Ex. 844. Exhibit 844 provides a list of memos that attorneys at Jones Day prepared prior to June 2012, “in connection with the Detroit matter.” Heather Lennox of Jones Day requested copies of these memos for a June 6, 2012, meeting with Ken Buckfire, of Miller Buckfire, and Governor Snyder. Some of the memos include:

(1) “Summary and Comparison of Public Act 4 and Chapter 9”

(2) “Memoranda on Constitutional Protections for Pension and OPEB Liabilities”

(3) “The ability of a city or state to force the decertification of a public union”

(4) “The sources of, and the ability of the State to withdraw, the City’s municipal budgetary authority.”

(5) “Analysis of filing requirements of section 109(c)(5) of the Bankruptcy Code (“Negotiation is Impracticable” and “Negotiated in Good Faith”)