Kevyn Orr

Politics & Government
7:35 am
Mon September 9, 2013

In this morning's headlines: More lights less blight in Detroit, high speed rail, more in preschool

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More streetlight and less blight in Detroit in 60 days

Detroit's emergency manager says residents will be able to notice more robust city services within the next two months. As the Detroit News reports,

"After five months on the job, Kevyn Orr says efforts to restore streetlights and reduce the number of abandoned structures will become more visible within 60 days. Meanwhile, dozens of new public safety vehicles are hitting the streets, and police officers and firefighters are being outfitted with new gear and equipment."

More high speed rail in south Michigan

"Michigan is adding more high-speed rail. The federal government will give the state more than $9 million to upgrade train tracks between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The upgrade allows Amtrak trains to travel as fast as 110 miles an hour," Tracy Samilton reports.

Funding boost will allow more kids in preschool

"As many as 16,000 more 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool in Michigan this fall, thanks to a big boost in the state's early education budget," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
5:23 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Misspent retirement funds 'robbed' Detroit's General pension

Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

Money in Detroit’s pension fund was misspent on bonus checks, The Detroit News’ Robert Snell reported.

That information is coming from a report on the city’s General pension fund from consulting firm Conway MacKenzie. According to the report, more than $532 million was distributed as bonus checks over the last two decades, instead of staying in the pension fund’s coffers.

The so-called 13th checks — or annual bonuses — weren’t a part of the city’s pension plan. Yet, the report claims that even in the “good and bad years,” the money intended for the workers’ saving plans was doled out early -- which according to the report, was “effectively robbing (the General pension fund) of precious funds necessary to support the traditional pensions the city had promised.”

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Politics & Government
7:28 am
Wed September 4, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Medicaid expansion, Duggan wins, Casino money for Detroit

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Medicaid expansion awaits Governor Snyder's signature

The state House took final action yesterday to approve a Medicaid expansion in Michigan. It now awaits Governor Rick Snyder's signature. However, the bill does not have immediate effect, meaning it won’t start until the spring, instead of in January. The delay will cost the state $7 million a day in federal funds.

Duggan is the official winner of Detroit mayoral primary

"The board of state canvassers has declared Mike Duggan the winner of Detroit’s mayoral primary. The state took over the issue after Wayne County elections officials threw out thousands of write-in votes based on how they had been tabulated. Duggan was a write-in candidate. The state restored more than 24-thousand votes to Duggan, giving him a big margin of victory over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Detroit EM says casino money is key for Detroit

"Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager testified that access to casino tax revenues is key to the city staying afloat financially. During the deposition, Kevyn Orr said he has 'no plans to use art to relieve the liquidity crisis that the city is in now,'" the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
7:44 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Detroit emergency manager fires pension fund chair

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager has fired the chairman of one of the city's two pension funds from his municipal job.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press report Friday that Kevyn Orr fired Cedric Cook. Cook served as a senior data program analyst for information technology services and has been chairman of the Detroit General Retirement System.

Cook took an all-expenses-paid trip this year to a conference in Hawaii. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says the dismissal was due to Cook's poor job performance, not for taking the trip.

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Politics & Government
1:25 pm
Sat August 31, 2013

Ford Foundation donates money to help Detroit manage its federal grants

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr hired the firm Public Consulting Group to help the city manage its federal grants.
Credit www.mich.gov

The Ford Foundation has pledged $127,000 to hire the firm Public Consulting Group to help manage Detroit's federal grant money.

The city has lost money in the past because of poor oversight of its grants, like a $400,000 lapsed grant to the Detroit Police Department for an armored personnel carrier.

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Politics & Government
12:54 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Objections flood in as deadline passes to oppose Detroit bankruptcy

The Detroit Institute of Arts was one group that did not file an objection to Detroit's bankruptcy filing.
user aMichiganMom Flickr

Tuesday saw a flood of court filings from Detroit's creditors.

Midnight was the deadline for creditors to file objections to Detroit's request for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy protection.

About 100 unions, pensioners, and individuals filed objections with the court.

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Politics & Government
6:10 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Detroit emergency manager plans to train more firefighters

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Emergency manager Kevyn Orr is working on a plan to train up to 100 new firefighters, as well as moving fire stations and supplying them with new equipment.

Plan developer Edward J. Plawecki Jr. tells Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley that his work is a response to a severe shortage of personnel and equipment. Detroit now has 796 firefighters, 40 operating fire stations and 20 ambulances.

The newspaper says union leaders have been meeting regularly with Plawecki on the drafting of the plan, which will be released in mid-September.

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Stateside
5:05 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Kevyn Orr apologizes for calling Detroit 'dumb, lazy, happy and rich'

mich.gov Michigan Government

An interview with Daniel Howes.

There's been an apology from Detroit's Emergency Manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Speaking to WXYZ-TV reporters, Orr offered up a mea culpa:

"In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that would have been interpreted as an insult. I also perhaps was not as in tune as I should have been to the fact that I said that a week before an election. Not a particularly smart thing to do. I was being dumb in that sense." 

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens? And was there a point to what he was trying to say to the Wall Street Journal?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:00 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Billions and billions of federal dollars, hundreds of different policies, all rest in the U.S. Farm Bill. With very little bipartisanship in Washington these days, it's not too surprising that it's taken so long for Congress to make a deal on the legislation. But, time is running out. Why can’t the 2013 Farm Bill just get done and what does it means for the Michigan and U.S. economies?

And, we took a temperature-check. Just how do local officials think the state Legislature is doing?

Also, the Dearborn Planning Commission approved changes in rules governing the way residents may use their garages, but some people in the Arab community feel the changes are a direct slap at them.

First on the show, there's been an apology from Detroit's emergency manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Orr offered up a mea culpa in an interview with WXYZ-TV.

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Stateside
5:25 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Kevyn Orr plans to hire a group to manage federal grant money

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
Detroit Free Press video Detroit Free Press

An interview with Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson.

Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to visit with Michigan Senator Carl Levin  and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:23 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Today we took a closer look at recommendations for statewide standards for evaluating Michigan teachers. How should the job performance of teachers be evaluated?

And, we met a West Michigan man who swims across the Great Lakes and Lake St Clair, raising money for charity.

Also, we spoke with the lead vocalist of The Ragbirds, a band from Ann Arbor that is about to kick off their fall tour with a newborn baby.

First on the show, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr visited went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to meet with Michigan Senator Carl Levin and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
10:01 am
Thu August 8, 2013

State attorney general ready to defend DIA collection in bankruptcy court

The Detroit Institute of Arts.
user aMichiganMom Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he’s prepared to defend the Detroit Institute of Arts collection in federal bankruptcy court. Schuette recently released an opinion that the artwork cannot be sold to satisfy the city’s creditors because it is held in a public trust.


Schuette spokesperson Joy Yearout says he’ll take that position in front of Judge Steven Rhodes if the city puts the collection on the table.

“If and when the issue of how the DIA’s charitable trusts are treated in bankruptcy comes up in court before Judge Rhodes, the attorney general will be prepared to defend the position that they should be protected,” Yearout said.

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Opinion
8:37 am
Tue August 6, 2013

The truth about Detroit pensioners

Lessenberry commentary for 8/6/2013

Detroiters are voting today in one of the strangest and yet most important primary elections the city’s ever had. Those they send to the November runoff will be fighting for jobs which at first will have no power. That’s because everything is now in the hands of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Rhodes.

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Politics & Government
6:54 am
Tue August 6, 2013

In this morning's news: DIA appraisal, Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act, pet coke in Detroit

Morning News Roundup for Tuesday, August 6, 2013
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DIA is being appraised

Christie's Appraisals, a New York-based International auction house, says it has agreed to appraise some city-owned pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said the art valuations are a necessary part of the debt restructuring and don't "portent a sale of any asset."

Board meeting to discuss Michigan's Medical Marijuana Act

A state panel will meet this afternoon to consider whether new health conditions should be covered under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act. A previous board already voted to allow patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease to use medical pot, but those conditions were never officially added to the list of acceptable ailments. Some advocates question whether the new board risks the same fate because it doesn’t include proper representation from the medical community. The state says it’s working to fix the make-up of the panel, Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Raising awareness of petroleum coke in Detroit

A round table discussion is scheduled in Detroit this morning to raise awareness of petroleum coke piled and stored along the Detroit River. U.S. Representative Gary Peters is expected to discuss his plans to ensure that such storage minimizes risk of dust and water contamination. The Bloomfield Township Democrat has introduced legislation calling for a federal study of health and environmental effects of open air storage of the material, known as pet coke, the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
6:20 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit to put a price on DIA, Windsor Tunnel and other assets

Peter Martorano Flickr

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr announced today that the city will start figuring out how much its assets are worth.

This comes as the bankrupt city is wrangling with creditors about how much of Detroit’s $11.5 billion unsecured debt will actually be repaid.

Orr also says he’s hiring Christie’s auction house to appraise the city-owned portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection.

It’s tough news to those still holding out hope that the museum will emerge unscathed from the bankruptcy process.

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Politics & Government
5:53 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit retirees slam Orr's "dumb, lazy" comments

Retirees protest in Detroit
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 Some Detroit retirees say emergency manager Kevyn Orr owes them an apology for controversial comments he made to the Wall Street Journal.

A handful of them marched in downtown Detroit Monday to demand that apology.

Orr said a lot of things during the interview, but his statement that "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich," struck a particular nerve.

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Politics & Government
9:00 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy case comes into focus with second hearing

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

A federal bankruptcy judge ordered a committee to represent retiree interests in Detroit’s bankruptcy, as lawyers representing the city and creditors went head-to-head in court for the second time Friday.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has proposed cutting retirees’ pensions in his effort to restructure about $11 billion of the city’s debt.

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Politics & Government
3:18 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Kevyn Orr proposes new health care plan to save Detroit $12 million annually

Patricia Drury Flickr

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr proposed a new health care plan to the city’s 47 unions Friday morning, according to Reuters.

The plan will save the city $12 million a year by raising deductibles and trimming the number of plans available, but it will keep premiums the same.

Currently, there are 20 health care plans available to employees. Orr wants to reduce that number. Under his plan, single city workers will see their annual deductibles increase nearly fourfold -- from $200 to $750 -- and out-of-pocket expenses will be capped at $1,500. Married employees will see annual deductibles increase to $1,500, and out-of-pocket expense will be capped at $4,500.

Co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs will stay the same. The city will also continue to offer vision and dental plans. Preventive measures will still be free.

Orr said in a statement:

“We think this is the best plan we could propose given Detroit's financial crisis, but I look forward to hearing from union leadership on their ideas to lower healthcare costs. . . . The City’s plan holds the line on premium costs for employees while allowing Detroit to save enough money to put another 100 police officers or firefighters on the streets.”

The proposal is part of Detroit’s financial restructuring efforts to eliminate more than $18 billion in debt.

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
11:24 am
Wed July 31, 2013

In Detroit, mayoral candidates slug it out to the finish

Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, right.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Detroit has an emergency manager—but more than a dozen people are still vying to be the city’s next mayor.

And most of them were on hand for a debate just a week before the city’s primary election last night.

A dozen candidates took to the stage—in groups—to share why they wanted to be mayor of the bankrupt city. There were so many candidates that there few opportunities for substantive debate.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan is considered one of the frontrunners—even though he’s not on the ballot. He’s waging a write-in campaign.

Duggan faced questions about “cronyism” dating back to his days as part of former Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara’s political machine.

He also responded to persistent questions about why he’s running for mayor—when he’s lived in Detroit for barely a year.

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Opinion
8:53 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Michigan Attorney General intends to intervene on behalf of Detroit pensioners

Lessenberry commentary for 7/29/2013

Last week, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette did something many found startling, especially those politically liberal. Schuette announced that in Detroit's bankruptcy filing he intended to intervene on behalf of those who have pensions coming.

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