Detroit pension trustee makes controversial comment at meeting - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

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>>

  • Easter Sunday benefit for Steve Utash and crime victims

    Easter Sunday benefit for Steve Utash and crime victims

    Sunday, April 20 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-04-21 03:46:19 GMT
    Since his near death beating by a mob, family, friends and total strangers have rallied around Steven Utash. The latest show of support was on Easter Sunday at Bethany Baptist Church in Detroit.
    Since his near death beating by a mob, family, friends and total strangers have rallied around Steven Utash. The latest show of support was on Easter Sunday at Bethany Baptist Church in Detroit.
  • Wanted suspect arrested for high profile crimes

    Wanted suspect arrested for high profile crimes

    Sunday, April 20 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-04-21 03:43:01 GMT
    A wanted suspect connected to serious crimes in Metro Detroit is now in custody. Ray Slayton, 47, was arrested Sunday morning at a hotel in Warren on felony drug charges.
    A wanted suspect connected to serious crimes in Metro Detroit is now in custody. Ray Slayton, 47, was arrested Sunday morning at a hotel in Warren on felony drug charges.
  • Recall: Kraft Foods recalls 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners

    Recall: Kraft Foods recalls 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:36 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:36:39 GMT
    Kraft Foods is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners because the products may contain Classic Cheese Dogs in the Classic Wieners' packages.
    Kraft Foods is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners because the products may contain Classic Cheese Dogs in the Classic Wieners' packages.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

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