Kevyn Orr

2:19 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager takes on pension funds

Lead in text: 
Detroit's pension boards have been under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors. Now Kevyn Orr is ordering his own investigation.
In 2009, a Detroit Free Press investigation of Detroit's two public pensions found a history of failed investments, lavish worldwide travels by the trustees who ran the funds, and few ethics rules. The newspaper reported in 2011 that the funds had lost $470 million in risky investments since 2008.
Politics & Government
4:11 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager orders probe of city pension funds

City of Detroit (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is turning his focus to the city’s pension system.

This morning, Orr directed Detroit’s Inspector General and Auditor General to begin an investigation into the city’s pension funds.

The order specifically directs investigators to look for evidence of “possible waste, abuse, fraud and corruption”.

A spokesman says Detroit’s emergency manager has been looking into the city’s pension system, and what’s been found so far suggests further investigation is needed.

The probe is expected to take 60 days.

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Politics & Government
8:49 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Commentary: Are Pensions Sacred?

Lessenberry commentary for 6/19/2013

We didn’t have an early spring this year, but it looks like an early summer. I say that because while it is still technically spring, the authorities are already engaged in what has been a late summer Michigan ritual, digging up a field to look for Jimmy Hoffa.

Usually, it strikes me as strange that this case still gets so much attention, but this year we’ve been so overwhelmed with news from Detroit that we probably need a little escape.

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Politics & Government
9:22 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Commentary: Remember Virg Bernero?

Lessenberry commentary for 6/18/2013

Everyone knows, of course, that Rick Snyder was elected governor three years ago. And by now it is safe to say that everyone has an opinion about him. Some think he is saving the state.

Others are vowing to do everything they can to prevent him from winning a second term. But stop for a minute.

Do you remember who Snyder defeated to be elected governor in the first place? Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democratic nominee in what was an impossible year for his party.

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Politics & Government
7:41 am
Tue June 18, 2013

In this morning's news: Palisades re-opens, Detroit's water dept., MI attorney general election

Morning News Roundup for Tuesday, June 18, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Palisades returns to service

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwestern Michigan re-opened yesterday after finishing repairs to a tank that leaked slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan. The plant has had nine shutdowns since September 2011; company spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says the tank has been redesigned to guard against future leaks. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there was no public health risk from the radioactive release.

Detroit's water department faces restructuring

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has big plans to restructure the city’s water department. It would largely keep the same governing structure, with representatives from Detroit and surrounding counties, but the authority would also pay Detroit to lease the department’s assets.

“Orr’s plan suggests that spinning the water department off to an authority would allow it refinance its debt, and borrow more readily for capital improvements,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

MSU law professor running for Michigan attorney general

Michigan State University law professor, Mark Totten, announced yesterday that he is running for Michigan attorney general in 2014. Totten, a Democrat, used to be a federal prosecutor. Democrats will choose their attorney general candidate at a nominating convention next year; no other Democratic candidates have entered the race yet. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette is expected to seek re-election.

Politics & Government
6:50 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

There's some pushback against Kevyn Orr's plan for Detroit's water department

Credit Kate Boicourt / IAN

Detroit’s emergency manager has a plan for the city’s water department—but not everybody likes it.

Kevyn Orr proposes leasing the system to a “Metropolitan Area Water and Sewer Authority” as it part of a larger restructuring of city operations.

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Commentary: After the Fall

Lessenberry commentary for 6/17/2013

It’s hard to be shocked by anything relating to Detroit’s financial crisis. But frankly, I was, when I read the details of the report Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr gave to the city’s creditors.

For months, we’d been hearing that the city had as much as $14 billion in long-term debt. The real figure is more like twenty billion. No other city in the country pays even twenty percent of its revenue for what they call legacy costs -- debt service and pensions. Detroit pays more than forty percent.

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Law
4:06 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Michigan AG says state law protects DIA assets from bankruptcy sale

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has released a legal opinion that says the collection held by the Detroit Institute of Arts cannot be sold if the city goes into bankruptcy.

The opinion was issued in response to a request by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

The opinion says the assets owned by the Detroit Institute of Art are held in a public trust for the people of Michigan, and cannot be used to pay off the city's debts. Schuette says in the opinion, "In Michigan, we not only appreciate our cultural treasures, we guard them zealously."

Detroit has $15.6 billion dollars in long-term liabilities, and emergency manager Kevyn Orr will need to take some drastic measures to pay those debts.

Kevyn Orr -- who is a bankruptcy attorney and turnaround expert -- is in the middle of negotiating a debt reduction plan with the city's creditors. He has said there are no guarantees the DIA's assets would be off the table in the event of a bankruptcy.

Politics & Government
3:19 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Orr's plan to remake Detroit

The city of Detroit.

When Kevyn Orr was announced as Detroit's emergency manager, he said he took the job because of the challenge - the "Olympics of restructuring" he called it.

Today, Orr unveiled his plan for that restructuring at a two hour meeting with people representing banks, insurers, pension funds, unions, and other companies holding Detroit's debt.

You can read his 128 page "Proposal for Creditors" here.

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Politics & Government
12:45 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Orr's restructuring plan released, historic meeting with Detroit's creditors is underway

Orr arriving this morning at the meeting.
Matt Helms Twitter

Update 12:45

The meeting has ended. We'll have updates later today on Orr's plan and reaction to it from other stakeholders.

The Detroit Free Press' Matt Helms tweeted a shot of Orr talking to the media after the meeting:

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Politics & Government
12:06 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager launches key talks with creditors

Kevyn Orr, Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager.
State of Michigan Michigan.gov

Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr sits down with the city’s major creditors Friday.

The meeting sets up negotiations that could help Detroit avoid filing for bankruptcy—or lay the groundwork for it.

Orr will gather all the city’s big creditors—unions, retirees, and banks—to pitch his plan.

They’ll all be asked to take some major losses to help Detroit shed some of its crippling debt load, estimated at a least $15 billion.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:59 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Medicaid expansion bill, and conflicts in Detroit

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service. On tap today, the latest happenings around the Medicaid expansion bill; developments in Detroit about whether the selection of the city's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, was in conflict with the Opening Meetings Act; and possible bankruptcy proceedings in the city. 
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Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Detroit's 'Day of Reckoning' is at hand

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

An interview with Daniel Howes.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time to check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

The theme for today's conversation seems to be: the Day of Reckoning is at hand.

Tomorrow, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is going make a pitch to 150 representatives and creditors to try to win concessions from them. The pitch could very well be the precursor to the city filing Chapter Nine bankruptcy.

Daniel Howes joined us to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:16 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Close your eyes for a moment and think about what America looked like, say, in 1962, the furniture, the architecture, the cars. We explore the huge role Michigan had in mid-20th century design.

And, before National Fudge Day--yes there is such a thing--we take a trip to Mackinac Island, which has a pretty legitimate claim as the modern day Capital of Fudge.

And, we interviewed an entrepreneur from Waterford who has developed a unique way for women to show appreciation for the men in their lives.

Also, we took a look at the recent Pew research report.

First on the show, we turned to Detroit News Columnist Daniel Howes for our weekly Thursday check-in.

The theme for today's conversation seems to be: the Day of Reckoning is at hand for Detroit.

Politics & Government
11:49 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Judge orders Snyder administration to produce records re: EM hire

Staff Michigan Municipal League

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration intends to appeal a judge’s order to reveal the names of all the candidates he considered as potential emergency managers for Detroit.

A lawsuit claims the hiring process violated the state’s open meetings law.

The judge ordered the state to turn over e-mails and other records related to the search that culminated in hiring Kevyn Orr to steer Detroit out of a financial crisis. The lawsuit claims the decision was made well before a state board publicly interviewed and voted to hire Orr.

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Politics & Government
8:22 am
Thu June 13, 2013

In this morning’s news: Medicaid expansion, emergency managers, and heroin incidents

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Medicaid goes to House floor

Yesterday, the Michigan House Competitiveness Committee voted to send the Medicaid expansion bill to the floor. Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that while Republicans were split on the issue, “Democrats on the panel all voted in favor of the bill. That’s after lawmakers dropped a controversial plan to limit able-bodied adults to four years on Medicaid. But they say they’re still concerned about language that would raise premiums and co-pays for some patients after four years.”

Questions for Governor about Detroit's emergency manager

Concerns have been raised about Governor Rick Snyder’s process in selecting Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager. Rick Pluta reports that “a judge says Governor Rick Snyder’s office must turn over e-mails and other records related to the candidate search for a Detroit emergency manager. The judge’s order is related to a lawsuit that alleges Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was hired illegally. The lawsuit claims the process was rigged and carried out in violation of Michigan’s open meetings law.”

Heroin incidents on the rise in Michigan

A rash of heroin overdoses occurred in Washtenaw County last week, and incidents are on the rise across parts of the state. “Authorities say a particularly toxic heroin mix known by some on the street as ‘black shadow’ appears to be circulating in southeast Michigan communities, causing a rise in overdoses and at least one death this month,” report Robin Erb and Tammy Stables Battaglia of the Detroit Free Press.

Stateside
5:07 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Detroit suffers from an 'addiction to debt' according to Kevyn Orr

Not everyone was able to make it into the meeting
Jeff Wattrick Deadline Detroit

An interview with Detroit Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley.

The city of Detroit is “technically insolvent” and suffers from an “addiction to debt.” That’s according to Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who described the city’s situation at his first public meeting last night.

About 350 people were on-hand at the start of the meeting, about 250 made it into the meeting but about 100 were left out because of over-crowding.

Detroit Free Press Columnist Rochelle Riley covered the meeting, and she joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:05 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr held his first public meeting yesterday evening. We found out what Orr had to say and what city residents thought about his message.

And, after months and months of hearing about record-low water levels in the Great Lakes, new predictions now show levels could climb some 2 feet over the summer. We spoke with Al Steinman, the Director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University to get the details.

Also, the CEO of AutoBike, Inc. joined us today to talk about how bicycle businesses have benefited from the growing interest in cycling.

First on the show, that huge pile of petroleum coke lying alongside the Detroit River is triggering a growing sense of alarm. 

You may recall, we spoke with New York Times journalist Ian Austen here on Stateside about the origins of this mountain of "pet coke" that's growing in Southwest Detroit. It's a byproduct of tar sands oil refining used in energy production. When mixed with coal, it can be used as a low-cost fuel.

The piles are being brought-in by trucks  from the Marathon Petroleum Refinery in southwest Detroit, and the pet coke is being stored by a company called Detroit Bulk Storage for the OWNER of the pet coke: Koch Carbon.

US Congressmen John Conyers and Gary Peters and others have been voicing concern about the health and environmental risks of storing these piles of pet coke.

Nick Shroke is a professor of law at Wayne State University in Detroit and the executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

2:33 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Column: Detroit politicians hold meetings like political amateurs

Lead in text: 
Deadline Detroit's Jeff Wattrick witnessed the scene outside last night's public meeting with emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Other politicians and cities seem to handle large crowds and dissent without much problem. Detroit politicians, Wattrick argues, "stage manage these things like Soviet bureaucrats."
It can be hard sometimes to understand the vitriol of Detroit activists who opposed seemingly common-sense reforms like converting Belle Isle from a public city park into a public state park. It also can be hard to understand the outrage stemming Kevyn Orr's appointment as Detroit emergency manager.
Politics & Government
7:49 am
Tue June 11, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit's budget meeting, I-96 shooter evidence, DNA testing for suspects

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, June 11, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Wayne State University hosts Detroit's first public budget meeting

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s Emergency Manager, told the public Monday night that the city is “technically insolvent” and suffers from an “addiction to debt.” “Orr says Detroit’s chances of avoiding a Chapter Nine municipal bankruptcy are still ‘fifty-fifty,’” reports Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek. Mlive.com reports that 100 people were shut out of the meeting after it exceeded the auditorium’s capacity. 

Evidence does not link bullet to I-96 shooter

Ballistics tests have shown that a bullet recently recovered from an I-96 driver did not come from weapons taken from Raulie Casteel’s home.  According to the Associated Press, “Casteel faces terrorism and other charges in two dozen random shootings in a four-county area last October.”

Potential DNA testing for suspects

Michigan lawmakers are considering a law that requires DNA sample collection from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony. Currently, DNA samples are taken from people arrested on suspicion of murder, rape, and other violent felonies. According to the Associated Press, “civil liberties advocates say collecting DNA before someone is convicted violates the presumption of innocence.”

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