The state has sent more pension money to big-name Wall Street firms like Blackstone, Third Point, Omega Advisors, Elliott Associates and Grady’s old firm, The Carlyle Group. Additionally, the amount of fees the state pays financial managers has more than tripled since Christie assumed office. New Jersey is now one of America’s largest investors in hedge funds.

The “maximized returns” have yet to materialize.

Between fiscal year 2011 and 2014, the state’s pension trailed the median returns for similarly sized public pension systems throughout the country, according to data from the financial analysis firm, Wilshire Associates. That below-median performance has cost New Jersey taxpayers billions in unrealized gains and has left the pension system on shaky ground. Meanwhile, New Jersey is now paying a quarter-billion dollars in additional annual fees to Wall Street firms — many of whose employees have financially supported Republican groups backing Christie’s reelection campaign.

Emergency Town Hall Meeting - Defend Detroit City Pensions & Services

3:00pm Sunday, March 2, 2014

Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, at Woodward, Detroit, MI

Emergency Manager Orr’s “Plan of Adjustment” declares war on the City of Detroit and its retirees. A Retiree Committee member reported actual cuts to health, dental and pension nears 70% — and even this is not guaranteed. The bulk of the city’s bond holders, $6 billion of the $6.5 billion owed, are to be paid at 100% on the dollar despite media lies to the contrary. It will not rebuild ­Detroit.

We demand:

Cancel the debt to the banks that caused Detroit’s crisis!

The banks, corporations and the state must be forced to repay Detroit for the destruction they have caused. The hundreds of millions they owe us should go to fund a massive public works program, paying our youth to re- build our neighborhoods.

Let’s drive out Orr’s consultants. They have gouged the city, charging $95 million in the last year and giving nothing in return. That $95 million could be used to hire 3,000 workers at $30,000 per year to patrol our neighborhoods, fix and drive the buses, get the lights turned on and rebuild, not tear down, housing. THE MONEY BELONGS TO US.

► Judge Rhodes stated that the city would likely prevail if it sued Bank of America and UBS. It’s time to go after the $300 billion the two banks stole from Detroit from 2008-2013 through the interest rate swap swindle. 

► Water mains keep breaking, icing and flooding our neighborhoods. Instead of hiring to fix the pipes, Orr threatens to lay off 700 workers. JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley ripped off the water department, charging $500 million in swap termination fees on a $1 billion bond to upgrade DWSD. ­We ­demand that $500 million to repair infrastructure, keep workers and lower water bills.

► The state of Michigan must release the ­hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants earmarked for the poorest Detroiters. City workers who ran these programs for years, not suburban agencies, should manage the funds.

► In federal settlements, the banks are being forced to ante up BILLIONS of dollars in restitution for committing mortgage fraud. Detroit, which led the country in foreclosures — caused by racist ­predatory lending — should get its share of those funds.

► Don’t be lulled by promises of cash for ­Detroit by Governor Snyder and corporate “charitable trusts.” Along with the banks, Snyder and the corporations caused the city’s crisis by cutting state revenue ­sharing and closing plants. Orr claims the pension shortfall is $3.5 Billion — $800 million for the DIA won’t close Orr’s gap. 

► These greedy one percenters and their ­arrogant, racist governor — who imposed Emergency Managers on Detroit and other African-American ­cities — will not save this city. You can! Judge Rhodes rejected a deal, cut by Orr and his law firm Jones Day, to give hundreds of millions in future tax dollars to the banks. This victory was only won through consistent protest. 

Now is the time to intensify our mobilization.

The Finance Ministry’s General Accounting Office is seeking to finally put an end to the phenomenon of long-dead citizens continuing to receive pensions from beyond the grave.

The GAO announced that it has completed a detailed census of pensioners during which it found 3,423 cases where pensions continued to be paid to individuals even after they had died. In total the auditors established that 64.4 million euros in such undue payments had been made. Of that amount the state was able to recoup 42 million euros while 22.2 million euros remains ‘missing’.

Concessions on Pensions? More like political cynicism.

So the government have offered us concessions on public sector pension reforms. (See Guardian coverage of story here). The implementation of the reforms is to be delayed by 7 years, and won’t effect anyone within ten years of retirement. To the none-the-wiser member of the public this may sound like a good deal and if (when) the unions decide to continue with industrial action on the 30 November no doubt we’ll be painted as being unreasonable.

This is just cynicism from ministers who have, thus far, not entered into any meaningful negotiations about public sector pensions and it does not address our fundamental argument that these reforms are not just unfair but unnecessary- the Hutton report which they themselves commissioned made clear that the current arrangements (reformed, with compromise by the unions in 2007) are affordable and sustainable.

We are being asked to pay more, work longer and get less. The change from a final salary scheme to a pension linked to career average earnings discriminates against those, especially women, who take a career break or reduce their hours to fulfil caring duties. They have already switched the pension inflation calculation rate from RPI to the lower value of CPI which will reduce pension accrual of between £2250pa and £2500pa on average. Considering that pensions are, in effect, deferred wages, this is a pay cut. This stings even more when you consider that for those of us with student loans, the interest rate on these repayments is calculated on the higher RPI rate!

These unfair and unjustified reforms come on top of a freeze in our pay and a general worsening of our conditions as public sector cuts mean managers are squeezing us to work harder.

We didn’t cause this mess. So don’t make us pay for it. Support the action on November 30th.

Okay… so… November 30th Strike.
Jeremy Clarkson on the One Show was saying that the strikers had no right to strike, because they get a pension when people like himself have to work for a living.
Excuse me… but… fuck off? 
Jeremy…. you probably earn more in a week than my mum and dad earn in a year and what exactly do you do as a job that’s so hard? Earn money whilst given more money to go off to places like America to ride around in cars? Fuck off, seriously.
My dad was a policeman and because of the fucking state that Tories have gotten us into, his pension is doing bugger all to help our financial situation, so it’s not as if we’re all fine and dandy, my dad still has to work to keep us afloat as well as his pension and my mum’s job.
Also when David bloody Cameron is spouting shite that the strike has changed nothing and means nothing, that just shows how fucking incompetent he is as a Prime Minister. Now I’m not a fan of Labour either, but Ed Miliband was fucking brilliant when he said that the amount of money that Cameron uses for his wee trip out skiing is more than what a dinner lady, nurse or lolly pop man/lady earns in a year (or something along those lines)
I think the strike today was needed, that it was worthwhile.
I fucking hate the tories.

Rick Snyder's Dirty Tricks That Rushed Detroit Into Bankruptcy (Or How Rick Snyder Is Trying To Bust Unions & Steal Pensions)


Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) was so desperate to make Detroit the largest American city to declare bankruptcy that his lawyers apparently used deception to make sure their filing was in before a judge could block it.

➤ Ronald King, an attorney for Detroit’s General Retirement System and the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, said that he agreed to delay a hearing on an injunction that would have prevented the city from filing for bankruptcy for five minutes at the request of Snyder’s lawyers. In that five minutes, attorneys filed papers to put Detroit under bankruptcy protection, placing all legal action against the city in a temporary stay.

➤ “It was my intention to grant your request,” Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told the pensioners’ attorneys.

➤ “There’s no denying this was a race to the courthouse this afternoon and yet another example of usurping the will of the people,” King said.

➤ Pensions are protected under Michigan’s constitution, but this protection has not been tested in federal court. The city has about $18 billion in debt.

The Michigan Republican Party’s eager embrace of emergency manager powers has left about half of the state’s African-Americans without elected local representatives.

When voters repealed the emergency manager law in 2012 by 53 to 47 percent, the state’s Republican-dominated legislature quickly restored it, including a provision that made it impossible for votes to repeal the law again.

Part of the argument for these laws, which allow state officials to replace all elected city officials in municipalities deemed to be in “emergency” with an unelected bureaucrat, was that this process would prevent bankruptcy, which would be too disruptive.

When Snyder selected bankruptcy expert Kevin Orr to be Detroit’s emergency manager, however, it became clear what path the governor, who faces re-election in 2014, had in mind for the Motor City. Orr – who has already hinted at his intention to cut pensions – will manage the bankruptcy, carrying out the governor’s wishes.

Unions who have seen Snyder and a lame-duck legislature rush in a law designed to weaken unions along with tax increases on pensioners are not hopeful about  the bankruptcy process.

“Every step of the way, the citizens of Detroit were told that they had to give up their right to democratic representation in order to avoid bankruptcy,” Metro Detroit AFL-CIO president Chris Michalakis and Michigan State AFL-CIO president Karla Swift said in a joint statement. “Now that this filing has come anyway, it is clear that either state control has failed or that Governor Snyder and his emergency manager appointee were not honest about their intentions in the first place.”

As the city’s debts are discharged, the question is who will be asked to pay: workers — who were promised a retirement and have already offered concessions — or investors — who knew they were taking a risk?

UPDATE: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has ruled the Detroit bankruptcy filing violates Michigan’s state Constitution and must be withdrawn, noting that the there had been a “rush” to bankruptcy.

[See also]

A must-read story in the New York Times [] details that “even as the city wrestles with the $18 billion of debt that has overwhelmed it, Detroit has already been billed more than $19.1 million by firms hired to sort through that debt, search for ways to restructure it, and now guide the city through court.”

“It’s just ridiculous,” Edward L. McNeil, an official with the local council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said of the mounting costs. “The only thing that’s getting done is that these people are getting paid big-time while the citizens of Detroit are getting ripped off.”