Our governor, whom we affectionately refer to in these pages as Tinkerbell, is no orator. Her speeches sound like they were written for mediocre high school oratory contests, and they are delivered with all the gravitas of a cheerleader. The phrase "a mile wide and an inch deep" comes to mind when I hear her speak, but her speeches -- scripted and controlled -- show the governor at her best (which is none too good).
When she is off-script, however, watch out. You just never know what might come out of Tink's mouth. Like the other day, during a factory tour in Grandville, when she said that the delay in the Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings (due to a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court) was caused by "some greedy lawyers." (The stay has since been lifted and the Chrysler bankruptcy is humming along, shedding assets, jobs, and the future of the U.S. auto industry).
Tink did not identify the "greedy lawyers" by name, but presumably she meant the lawyers representing the Indiana State Police Pension Trust, the Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund, and the Indiana Major Moves Construction Fund, who requested the stay in the first place.
Let's take a closer look at the greedy lawyers and their clients.
The police and teacher pension funds manage retirement assets for approximately 100,000 Indiana civil servants, including police officers, school teachers, and their families.
The construction fund finances infrastructure construction projects. (Aren't these supposed to be the saviors of our economy under The One's stimulus package?)
Chrysler owes the pension funds alone $100 million, secured by a first lien on all of Chrysler's assets. This is part of a total "first lien" debt of $6.9 billion.
So, police officers and school teachers have been putting away money into a retirement fund, which in turn lent $100 million to Chrysler, in exchange for what amounts to a first mortgage on Chrysler property. So, what did that first lien, that mortgage, get the Indiana retirees? How does "virtually nothing" sound?
The Indiana funds will get about 28 cents on the dollar, while all of Chrysler's unsecured trade obligations will be paid, all warranty and dealer obligations will be paid, and $10 billion in unsecured claims against Chrysler's VEBA (the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, a UAW-run health care trust) will be paid by giving the UAW a $4.6 billion promissory note and a 68 percent share of the reorganized Chrysler. Based on testimony at the bankruptcy court hearing, the UAW stock is worth about $24 billion. Wealth distribution, anyone?
The lawyers for the Indiana funds were looking out for their clients, police and teacher retirees. In doing so, they argued for the law and against the massive distortion of the bankruptcy code orchestrated by the federal government and financed by our tax dollars. The Chrysler bankruptcy has turned the law on its head and will have substantial repercussions for all manufacturing entities in the future, because the current administration treats contracts and the law as irrelevant obstructions to be overcome on the way to its apparent goal of eliminating private enterprise and the right to make a buck.
Not to mention the Indiana retirees, who have seen 72 million dollars go up in smoke, in a fire lit and stoked by the U.S. Treasury.
Perhaps Governor Tinkerbell, who has always fed at the public trough and has never had to worry about running a business (as demonstrated time and again by her wretched handling of our state government), considers lawyers trying to protect 72 million pension dollars to be "greedy," but in doing so she has turned on police, teachers, union members, and lawyers, all of whom have supported her in varying degrees over the years. See what happens when you don't have a script in front of you?
And where is the outrage from teachers, police, and lawyers? Do they just chalk it up to rhetoric, knowing that at crunch time Tink will carry the water? That she won't touch teacher health care in Michigan, that she won't fool with defined benefit pensions, that she will appoint judges of dubious quality in thinly veiled payoffs to the trial lawyers?
By using the phrase, "greedy lawyers," Tink pandered to the lowest elements of our society, among which, apparently, her heart lies. These are the groups that substitute slogans for political thought, and consider bumper stickers to be a form of literature.
If advocating zealously on behalf of my clients and arguing for the rule of law makes me a "greedy lawyer," then I am proud to be one. What does destroying Michigan's economy, causing tens of thousands of families to go on public assistance, and driving tens of thousands of people out of our state make you, Governor?