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Detroit’s civilian retiree group agrees to pension cuts



(Reuters) – The group representing the largest block of Detroit’s retired workers on Friday agreed to accept the city’s proposed cuts to their pension benefits, the latest in a string of deals the city has struck in an effort to resolve its historic bankruptcy.

The board of directors for the Detroit Retired City Employees Association, which represents 8,000 retired civilian workers, voted to support the city’s plan of adjustment, according to the mediators appointed by the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the case.

Under the deal, contingent on full funding of the so-called Grand Bargain to aid retired city workers, nonuniformed city retirees would accept a 4.5 percent reduction in benefits and the elimination of cost-of-living-adjustment increases to their benefits. They would also have a voice in the voluntary employee beneficiary association, or VEBA, that is planned for managing retiree health care.

Previously, the group representing retired police and firefighters agreed to back the city’s adjustment plan, as had the boards for the two independent pension systems for both groups. Under their deal, public safety retirees will not have their pensions reduced, though COLAs would be cut to 1 percent.

All the deals hinge on $816 million the city would tap to aid its retired workers. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has asked the state legislature to approve $350 million of that amount, while the rest would come from philanthropic foundations and the Detroit Institute of Arts, which pledged the money to avoid a fire sale of art works due to the bankruptcy.

The agreement added to several deals Detroit reached with other major creditors in the past month.


It also increases the ranks of creditors that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has lined up so far to support his plan to adjust the city’s $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history which was filed in July 2013.

Holdouts include bond insurance company Syncora Guarantee, which has been fighting the city over the swaps settlement.

Separately, the city on Friday was granted a delay until Monday for filing its final disclosure statement containing details of its plan of adjustment. The plan had been due to the court by the end of the day on Friday, but the court granted an extension.

(Writing by Dan Burns; editing by Matthew Lewis)

[Image: Two protestors hold a sign during a May Day protest against the Detroit Emergency Manager and the municipal Bankruptcy in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 1, 2014. By Rebecca Cook for Reuters.]

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Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race



Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.

Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)



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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits



President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’



Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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