Kevyn Orr

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
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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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Law
8:17 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

Michigan Attorney General to challenge changes to Detroit pensions

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
AG's office

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the state constitution protects Detroit pension benefits from being reduced or eliminated by the city’s bankruptcy.

Schuette says he will be in court Monday asking to join the case on behalf of pensioners.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes took control of lawsuits challenging the bankruptcy filing because it puts city pension benefits in jeopardy. But he has not ruled on the substance of the question, which is whether the benefits are shielded by protections in the Michigan Constitution.

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Stateside
5:42 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

What will Detroit look like after the bankruptcy?

Detroit skyline seen from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River.
Bernt Rostad creative commons

An interview with Daniel Howes.

Eventually, Detroit’s bankruptcy filing will be over. Eventually, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will no longer be in charge of Detroit’s finances.

When those things happen, Detroit will go back to being run by its city government, by a mayor, and a city council.

Daniel Howes, columnist at The Detroit News, focused on this future in his column yesterday in the News. He joined us today to discuss whether Detroit can shed its bad governance habits in light of the bankruptcy.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
9:49 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Detroit union leaders: "Bankruptcy was the strategy all along"

Union leaders say Detroit is in bankruptcy court because “that was the strategy all along.”

They accuse Governor Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr of “sham” negotiations, saying they were never able to actually sit down and bargain with Orr before he filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy last week.

“We were disheartened by the fact that we were told negotiations were going to take place, that never took place,” says Al Garrett, President of AFSCME Council 25.”Instead, they ran to a bankruptcy court.”

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Politics & Government
6:45 am
Mon July 22, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit bankruptcy, Flint school district deficit, St. Petersburg, Russia

Morning News Roundup for Monday, July 22, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit bankruptcy is topic of national conversation

Snyder, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appeared on Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to talk about filing bankruptcy for Detroit. Snyder said he will push to protect the retired city workers whose pensions are on the table. He said the bankruptcy filing included protections for retirees and urged them to remain calm. Orr said on "Fox News Sunday" that there are going to have to be "concessions." Bing on ABC's "This Week" said now that bankruptcy has been filed, leaders have to take a step back before making a decision on a federal bailout.

Flint school district faces more budget cuts

The Flint School Board will take up a Deficit Elimination Plan tomorrow night. The district is wrestling with a nearly 16 million dollar deficit. The Flint school district has made deep budget cuts but more cuts are likely if the district follows the plan to eliminate its deficit by June 2016. The Flint School Board has until July 31st to send its deficit elimination plan to the state.  

Lansing may end its relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lansing city council will be meeting tonight to discuss its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally. Members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s two decade sister cities relationship with the city.

It's Just Politics
4:04 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Snyder might not own Detroit, but he owns its bankruptcy

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

The Detroit bankruptcy filing is Michigan’s biggest news story of the year, with effects that will ripple out in all kinds of ways; many that are unpredictable.  It would be naïve to suggest that politics will not be a big part of how this plays out – if it hasn’t already.

So let’s run the bases on this, starting with Governor Rick Snyder. Snyder approved the bankruptcy filing, the largest in U.S. history, and it is now part of his legacy and his resume (whether he likes it or not) as he prepares to seek reelection next year. Every painful and controversial decision by a federal bankruptcy judge will be laid upon Rick Snyder by Democrats. Snyder may not own Detroit, but he sure owns its problems.

This is an awkward place for any leader to be, although not an unusual one. This is a governor being controlled by events, not controlling them. A couple years ago Snyder relentlessly, positively insisted that bankruptcy for Detroit was not an option; almost unthinkable. Now, he says there was really no other choice.   “This is a difficult situation – but the answer is, by not doing this path, where would we be? And, so, this is an opportunity to say ‘let’s get that fresh start’ and show the rest of the country why Detroit can be an exciting place that can grow into the future,” Snyder said yesterday evening, about two hours after the Chapter 9 filing.

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Politics & Government
4:02 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

What does bankruptcy mean for Detroiters?

70,000 vacant homes in Detroit are one of many aspects of the city that remain in limbo while the bankruptcy case goes through the courts.
Credit JasonParis / Flickr

Detroit's bankruptcy filing has raised a lot of questions, especially for people who live in the city. It's unlikely the day-to-day lives of Detroiters will change very much under a bankruptcy.

Lyke Thompson is the director of Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies. He says Detroit's city services are already pretty bad, and that there will be few immediate differences for city residents, but things could get worse before they improve.

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Detroit pension funds sue city's emergency manager, governor in attempt to block bankruptcy

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

Two Detroit pension funds have sued the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, and Governor Rick Snyder in an attempt to block the Motor City from filing for bankruptcy.

The General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit filed the lawsuit yesterday, Bloomberg’s Margaret Cronin Fisk reported. The state’s constitution offers protection of public retirees’ rights, and the petitioners of the lawsuit are claiming that a Detroit bankruptcy would violate those rights.

Orr’s office refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Orr hasn’t commented on which pension funds would be cut, and to what degree, but he has vowed to make “significant cuts” to pension payments.

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Economy
3:33 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager, 'financial condition of Detroit continues to be dire'

Kevyn Orr talking with the press after a meeting with Detroit creditors.
Detroit Free Press video Detroit Free Press

Those were Kevyn Orr's words in his latest quarterly report.

The Detroit Free Press' John Gallagher drew "8 key points" from the report, one of them being:

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