Kevyn Orr

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit EM begins job today

"A bankruptcy lawyer and turnaround expert tasked with reviving Detroit's beleaguered finances could be greeted by a crowd of protesters when he arrives at work today. Kevyn Orr plans to spend his first day meeting with some city officials who for months fought against creating his job," the Associated Press reports.

National parks face cuts

"Visitors to national parks in Michigan this summer could see limited hours and scaled-back programs because of the automatic reduction in the federal budget. Parks in Michigan are already feeling the pinch of budget cuts affecting the National Park Service," the Associated Press reports.

Postal workers protest over plans to cut Saturday delivery

"Hundreds of postal workers who oppose plans to cut home delivery from six days to five picketed outside U.S. Postal Service offices in Michigan on Sunday. . . The Postal Service has been facing rising deficits. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe last month announced plans to cut Saturday delivery, saying it would save $2 billion a year," the Associated Press reports.


Shawn Wilson / wikimedia

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss what's ahead for Kevyn Orr, the soon to be emergency manager for Detroit. They also talk about how some universities might face cuts after renegotiating labor contracts before the right to work law goes into effect later this month, and how the Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul will affect the majority of Michiganders in the state.

State of Michigan

The following is a summary of the above audio. To hear the full interview, click above.

It's been five days since Governor Snyder presented Kevyn Orr as the emergency manager of Detroit.

Many were quick to comment about Orr’s “introduction” to Michigan and that he seemed well-suited for the job.

He is a U-M law school alumnus, an attorney specializing in bankruptcy law and he helped guide Chrysler through its bankruptcy.

At his introductory press conference last Thursday with Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Kevyn Orr certainly seemed ready and willing  to take on the gargantuan task of “fixing” Detroit’s dire financial crisis.

Within the first day of that press conference, it was reported that Orr had some financial troubles of his own. He had liens on his home over unpaid unemployment insurance taxes.

"It is quite embarrassing when something like that comes up, but I took care of that as soon as I could and paid it off," Orr said. "Frankly, I have been too focused on my professional obligations and not as focused enough on my private obligations."

Shawn Wilson / wikimedia

We all know that last week Kevyn Orr was appointed as Detroit's emergency manager by Governor Rick Snyder.

But as the nation watches the city undergo major financial restructuring, there's an important story left out of the spotlight. 

According to a story by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter David Ashenfelter, the state of Michigan owes the city of Detroit nearly $700 million due to a deal between Mayor Archer and Governor Engler that was made in 1998.

Last year, we saw Krystal Crittendon, the now-fired head of the City's Law Department file an unsuccessful lawsuit to void the consent agreement between the City and Detroit.

Now, as Detroit begins to rebuild itself with Orr's help, we've got to wonder, would Detroit be in the same position if the state had kept up its end of the bargain?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Ashenfelter about the state's promise on Stateside.

To hear the full interview, click the link above. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor Snyder signs Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul

"Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation overhauling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The bills let the state's largest health insurer transform into a customer-owned nonprofit and ends its tax-exempt status. The Republican governor signed the legislation Monday at a meeting of the company's board of directors in Detroit," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit EM accused of unpaid taxes

"Governor Rick Snyder is standing by his pick for Detroit’s emergency manager - despite some criticism over unpaid taxes. The Detroit News reported over the weekend that Kevyn Orr had two tax liens against his Maryland home. Orr says he has since paid the taxes," Jake Neher reports.

Flint postpones decision to get water from Lake Huron

"The Flint city council has delayed a decision on whether to take part in a quarter billion dollar project to pipe water from Lake Huron for the city’s drinking water. Council members are concerned the city will end up paying too much.   There is also concern that whatever decision they make could be overruled by Flint’s emergency financial manager," Steve Carmody reports.

State of Michigan

Detroit's new emergency manager said he was embarrassed when Detroit News reporters showed him records of four tax liens placed on his house in Maryland.

Orr said he didn't know anything about the liens when shown records of them Friday morning by The Detroit News.

"I don't know what they are," Orr said, as his new boss, Gov. Rick Snyder, sat next to him in The News' offices. "That's surprising to me, to be honest."

Orr promised to take care of the matter right away. 

There was apparently an oversight related to a childcare provider unemployment insurance payment," Wurfel wrote in an e-mail. "Immediately upon learning of the potential issue just today, he took action at once to look into and resolve with the state of Maryland."

Now, Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports the matter has been taken care of: 

A Maryland official confirmed today that two payments have been made on tax liens filed against Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency financial manager after the state went after unpaid unemployment insurance on child care for his two children.

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation spokeswoman Maureen O’Connor told the Free Press today that she could not discuss specifics of the liens filed against Orr, but said two payments were made on outstanding taxes he owed, so the liens “are in the process of being satisfied.” She declined further comment.

Gov. Snyder said things happen...

“I just view it as that’s not something he was aware of,” Snyder said. “Those things can happen where you had a nanny helping you in your house, you took care of part of the issues and your accountant missed something. And you just go get it taken care of and move ahead.”

When we asked our Facebook fans on Saturday whether they thought this news was a big deal or not... most said, "It's a big deal!"

But maybe Debra Burr put it best when she closed out the comment thread:

"Okay. Now what?"

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager in waiting, got a surprise media baptism. Someone discovered that he had a couple unpaid liens against his Maryland home, apparently for unpaid unemployment insurance for a child care provider. He immediately paid up and said he was embarrassed.

Welcome to the world of public scrutiny, 24/7. That’s not something attorneys in the private sector are used to. But the world of politics is completely different.

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer told me that he had learned that if you want to be in politics, you better be prepared to lie there naked and have every orifice examined.

Sarah Cwiek/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Records show Detroit's new emergency financial manager has tax liens on his home in Maryland.

Kevyn Orr has two outstanding liens on his $1 million home in Chevy Chase, Maryland for $16,000 in unemployment taxes in 2010 and 2011.

The state records also show that two other liens of more than $16,000 in unemployment and income taxes were satisfied in 2010 and 2011.

Orr was appointed Detroit's financial manager by Governor Rick Snyder on Thursday.

The path of emergency management in Detroit is packed with political peril and promise (we decided to be quite alliterative this week). As Joe Biden once said, “This is a big deal.”

An Emergency Manager for the state’s largest city: It’s big. It’s complicated. Success would be sweet, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.

You could say Governor Rick Snyder now owns the city of Detroit, or at least its problems. And yet, his fate -  his political fate, the fate of his aspiration to be the governor who finally fixes Detroit - is now in the hands of someone else: Kevyn Orr. Orr was named Emergency Manager yesterday afternoon in Detroit. Orr’s success or failure will be Rick Snyder’s success or failure.

There’s already been a lot of talk about what this means for Rick Snyder’s future as he gets ready to run for reelection next year. And opinions are mixed. One take: The governor looks assertive and he’s taking action, which helps him regardless of the result. The other side: He’s taking a big risk and can be tagged as a failure if Detroit isn’t showing some real improvement by next spring or summer.

Here’s what’s difficult about any analysis of this situation: Ceteris paribus. It’s a common Latin phrase that economists use. It means “all things being equal.” And any analysis of any individual situation has to assume there’s some stability in the circumstances surrounding it. And in politics that’s not the case. Ever. There are always moving parts that are forcing other moving parts into new directions.

YouTube

Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit's new emergency manager Kevyn Orr made the talk show rounds this morning.

Gov. Snyder went toe to toe with Rev. Al Sharpton who challenged him that appointing an emergency manager in Detroit is undemocratic.

Sharpton said the appointment of Orr as emergency manager of Detroit "undermines people's right to vote, because the only one who voted for Kevyn was you."

Watch Snyder's response here:

Snyder said the mayor and city council will still have input in the process.

Orr mentioned the turnarounds of Baltimore and Pittsburgh as models for how the city of Detroit can get back on a solid financial footing.

Orr and Snyder also appeared on WWJ this morning and I'm looking for that audio. If I find it, I'll post a link to it here.

When Governor Snyder announced he was appointing an emergency manager for Detroit, I was in Traverse City, having lunch with a former governor who long ago tried his best to get the state to help Michigan’s largest city stay on its feet.

William Milliken served as governor longer than anyone has or ever will – fourteen years.

He is a firm believer in something Rick Snyder said earlier this week – that it is not Detroit vs. Michigan, but a situation where a healthy Detroit is essential to the entire state.

Kevyn Orr
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s official: Detroit has an emergency manager.

His name is Kevyn Orr. And it’s fair to say that he charmed even some skeptical observers when he was introduced to Detroit Thursday.

Orr isn’t exactly a household name. He was—until he quit his job Friday—a partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington, DC. He’s a bankruptcy lawyer and turnaround expert who helped Chrysler through a successful managed bankruptcy.

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