Detroit pension trustee makes controversial comment at meeting - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Detroit pension trustee makes controversial comment at meeting

Posted: Updated:
Cheryl Johnson Cheryl Johnson
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Thursday's Detroit pension board meeting took a bizarre turn. At the end of the meeting, pension board member and Mayor Bing appointee Cheryl Johnson made the following comment while greeting a group of firefighters fighting to protection their pensions and public safety.

"I'm very happy to see you all here. I would like to encourage all of you and -- trying to choose my words carefully -- other members who look like you to come to these meetings."

That comment led to this one from Matt Gnatek, a fellow pension board trustee.

"When the city's getting ready to file for bankruptcy on a Friday, in a closed session we're discussing strategy, and next thing you know they're filing on a Thursday. Thinking that someone from this board possibly told the city that we're doing what we're doing."

And within minutes the arguing began.

"You know as a fact that what they did was based on what happened in a closed session here how?" Johnson said.

"I'm making that assumption," Gnatek responded.

"You shouldn't make assumptions like that," Johnson said.

"Well, you make assumptions too," Gnatek retorted. "You do that all the time."

Then the conversation went back to race.

"Cheryl, can you expound on your comment that you hope guys that look like them?" Gnatek said.

"I hope that the black firefighters and the black police take a more active role in the running of this board," Johnson replied.

"Why does the race of somebody have to have anything to do with the running of this board?" Gnatek remarked.

"I took massive offense to it. I know other people in that room took offense to it, but I think they speak for themselves," Gnatek said afterwards.

So does this whole drama speak to a deeper division between pension trustees at the worst possible time?

"If pension board members are spending time fighting amongst themselves, how can you really mount a strong defense in the face of bankruptcy?" I asked Gnatek.

"We always get the job done no matter what. This is an unfortunate and I hope isolated incident, but it was very telling," he said.

"We went to the pension board meeting to stay informed. We want to stay informed. We don't want our pension touched or included in bankruptcy," said firefighter Dennis Hunter. "I do not agree that it's just blacks or whites. I think all firemen, all police that's in that pension should be involved."

Johnson refused to comment for this story. Meanwhile, the pension board is scheduled to meet again next Thursday.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • City of Detroit posts improvement updates online

    City of Detroit posts improvement updates online

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:18 AM EDT2014-07-31 11:18:29 GMT
    Residents will be able to view the number of new streetlights installed in their Detroit neighborhood, how many lots were mown and the number of vacant houses demolished by going to the city's website.
    Residents will be able to view the number of new streetlights installed in their Detroit neighborhood, how many lots were mown and the number of vacant houses demolished by going to the city's website.
  • Community comes together to support slain Armada teen's family

    Community comes together to support slain Armada teen's family

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:55 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:55:10 GMT
    Nearly a week after 14-year-old April Millsap was found murdered in the small town of Armada, friends, family and even those who didn't know the young girl gather for music in the park - this time hoping for justice.They were there to help raise money to ease the burden on April's heartbroken mother."We're as well as can be expected," said aunt Sarah Lichtenfelt. "They are just grateful for all the prayers and support, that's all we ask is to keep praying for strength."In the middle of it all...
    Nearly a week after 14-year-old April Millsap was found murdered in the small town of Armada, friends, family and even those who didn't know the young girl gather for music in the park - this time hoping for justice.They were there to help raise money to ease the burden on April's heartbroken mother."We're as well as can be expected," said aunt Sarah Lichtenfelt. "They are just grateful for all the prayers and support, that's all we ask is to keep praying for strength."In the middle of it all...
  • Family asks for justice after mother of three found dead next to dumpster

    Family asks for justice after mother of three found dead next to dumpster

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:33 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:33:46 GMT
    When 32-year-old Katherine Gibson was a little girl, her loved ones thought, the "life" ahead of her would be long. But it wasn't."Me and my girlfriend dropped her off and she had just told us, she loved us," said Marvin Gibson, her cousin.That would be the last "I love you" that he would hear. because after Gibson's cousin dropped her off at Harper and Conner, near Bronco's Market. The day after, she was found dead. Gibson's lifeless body, discovered by a dumpster, beside the building."Layin...
    When 32-year-old Katherine Gibson was a little girl, her loved ones thought, the "life" ahead of her would be long. But it wasn't."Me and my girlfriend dropped her off and she had just told us, she loved us," said Marvin Gibson, her cousin.That would be the last "I love you" that he would hear. because after Gibson's cousin dropped her off at Harper and Conner, near Bronco's Market. The day after, she was found dead. Gibson's lifeless body, discovered by a dumpster, beside the building."Layin...
Powered by WorldNow

KDFW FOX 4
400 N. Griffin Street
Dallas, Texas 75202

Main Station Directory:
(214) 720-4444
News Fax:
(214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices