will consider appealing Rhodes' rulings.
"All options are on the table right now," said Michael Artz, in-house counsel for the city's largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "Nothing the judge said today erases the fact that Gov. Snyder's authorization of this bankruptcy is unconstitutional."
Said Robert Gordon, an attorney for Clark Hill who represents the Police and Fire Retirement System, "We think it important to emphasize that there has been no ruling on whether the state's authorization of a Chapter 9 filing was or was not valid. That remains an open and viable issue."
Rhodes' ruling angered retirees, union leaders and others who attended the hearing and protested outside the courthouse all day.
"Am I mad? Absolutely," said firefighter Darrell Freeman, who said he fears his family's financial health is in jeopardy. "For us to face not having a pension or a reduced pension? We depend on that for our families. What do we do if our pensions are taken away?"
Freeman is one of 20,000 retirees and about 9,500 current Detroit employees paying into the systems. Snyder and Orr have said that pension payments will be protected for six months, but that "adjustments" will have to be made after that to deal with a reported $3.5-billion unfunded liability in the pension system.
Janee Ayers, 31, a cashier at the MGM Grand Detroit and member of Unite Here, also is worried about pensions. She said she believes Detroit's financial troubles could have been solved without bankruptcy and that Michigan as a whole stands to lose from the bankruptcy.
"What happens to Detroit happens to all of us," said Ayers, who said she remains optimistic, despite the ruling.
Ed McNeil, special assistant to AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett, accused Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette of trying to evade lower courts by seeking favorable federal court rulings instead of addressing questions raised by pension funds and workers and retirees who sued in Ingham County to halt the bankruptcy.
The Michigan Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the state's appeal of Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's ruling that the bankruptcy must be halted. But the court did put in place a stay in Aquilina's orders in three cases involving the pension systems and her temporary restraining order against moving forward with the bankruptcy.
Heather Lennox, an attorney with Jones Day, said the city was merely asking the court for the normal protections that are provided during any bankruptcy case.
Lennox said three lawsuits filed against the city in Ingham County would jeopardize the ability of the city to restructure its debts through bankruptcy.
"Having widespread litigation ... can only confuse the parties, confuse the case and create serious barriers to efficient administration of this case," she said.
Now, creditors who seek to deny Detroit's ability to restructure its debts under bankruptcy court protection must file new arguments and argue their case before Rhodes, who will determine whether the city is eligible under bankruptcy code.
At the next bankruptcy hearing, set for Aug. 2, Rhodes intends to set a deadline for creditors to file those objections.
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