Kevyn Orr

Politics & Culture
5:27 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Stateside for Monday, May 13th, 2013

State officials announced over the weekend that they'll lend money to Pontiac schools to avert a pay-less payday.

But, there's no resolution in Buena Vista Township where that school system abruptly shut down after running out of money. On today's show: a temperature check on school funding across Michigan - just how many districts are close to the financial edge?

And Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr joined us today. He released a report on the city's disastrous finances. The State's Emergency Manager law requires this report to be issued  45 days after Orr's appointment.

We also talk about what Marquette, Michigan is doing right. "Placemaking" is leading to efforts to create more livable, vibrant and creative communities. We wanted to find out where "placemaking" is working and how cities across Michigan could benefit. Arnold Weinfeld, the director of Strategic Initiatives at the Michigan Municipal League, joined us to talk about this effort.

Politics & Government
9:44 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Commentary: Two Detroits

Lessenberry commentary for 5/13/2013

I had dinner recently with Elaine Stritch, the Broadway legend who in later years, won new television audiences with her work on everything from The Cosby Show to 30 Rock.

She is 88 now and after living in New York and London since World War II, moved back to her hometown recently, back to greater Detroit. And I was curious about why. Yes, she has some family here, but as Stritch candidly said, she has enough money that she could live anywhere. She told me, it was the sun.

Detroit sunshine is like that of nowhere else in the world, she said, inviting, bright and warm even on chilly days. “In New York, well, the sun is a cold and distant thing,” she said.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:14 am
Mon May 13, 2013

In this morning's news: the state of Detroit, school closings, and a teacher performance bill

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

Detroit is worse off than we thought

"Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager is painting a bleak financial picture. Kevyn Orr's first report says Detroit's net cash position was negative $162 million as of April 26 and that the projected budget deficit is expected to reach $386 million in less than two months. That's more than the city's estimate" reports the Associated Press.

Pontiac schools might be saved; no such luck for Buena Vista

The state is expected to release a payment as soon as today that will keep the Pontiac school district from declaring bankruptcy according to a letter sent to the district last week by the state Department of Education.

"There is still no plan to get 400 kids in the Buena Vista district back to school. Buena Vista closed its doors abruptly after losing a monthly payment because the district owes the state money. " Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

A new bill would reward teacher performance

"Michigan teachers' performance in the classroom would play a bigger role in the amount they get in their paychecks under a proposal being debated in the state House. Supporters argue that rewarding teachers who perform better and moving away from a system that rewards seniority will improve teachers and benefit students" reports the Associated Press.

Politics & Government
7:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Now on the sidelines, Detroit City Council still wants look at city contracts

The Detroit City Council wants a clearer view of what emergency manager Kevyn Orr is doing.

Some Council members said Tuesday they want to see all city contracts that Orr approves.

Those contracts are public record. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says they’re working out “how to post them in an efficient manner,” though there’s no timeline for when that will be up and running.

Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr says that shouldn’t take too long because “it ain’t rocket science.”

Read more
Politics & Government
6:53 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Bing lays out proposed budget to preserve "essential" services

Detroiters can expect increased fees and reduced services—and the city’s deficit will still keep growing.

At least that’s the scenario Mayor Dave Bing outlines in his proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

This proposal actually cuts much less from the budget—about $36 million—than the prior year. It focuses on more or less stabilizing “essential city services,” like public safety and transportation.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:29 am
Thu April 11, 2013

In this morning's news: wolf hunt, Jones Day contract, new transit authority

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Wildlife officials recommend wolf hunt for Upper Peninsula

State wildlife officials are recommending today that a hunt on the formerly endangered gray wolf be allowed to take place this fall.

"The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will receive a recommendation to kill 47 wolves as part of a hunt focused in three parts of the Upper Peninsula," Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports.
 

Detroit City Council reviewing Jones Day contract

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a contract with Jones Day, emergency manager Kevyn Orr's former law firm.

"The Jones Day firm is already working with the city on some long-term restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors," according to Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek.

New Regional Transit Authority meets for first time

Transit advocates celebrated the first meeting of metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority, which will coordinate the region's transit agencies.

"Advocates want the board to develop a master transit plan, and push a region-wide vote to fund transit operations," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
5:57 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Detroit City Council scrutinizes contract with EM's former firm

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a $3 million-plus contract with emergency manager’s Kevyn Orr’s former law firm.

Jones Day would assist the city through its restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors.

Read more
Opinion
8:26 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Commentary: The week that was

Jack Lessenberry's essay "The Week That Was"

This was the week in  which Detroit got an emergency manager and the state got a right-to-work law.  That is to say, the law took effect this week. I’d say that makes for a pretty  newsworthy few days. Some things this week were entirely  predictable.  Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton showed up to protest the  Emergency Manager. Crowds of demonstrators appeared at Detroit’s city hall  crowds which swelled when TV cameras showed up.

The first major lawsuit  was filed against the emergency manager law, and the Detroit Tigers sent an  exciting new spring phenom, closer Bruce Rondon, down to the minor  leagues. That story is worth mentioning, by the way, because a  newspaper computer analysis shows that more people read it today than read any  of the stories about the state or city‘s drama.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:44 am
Wed March 27, 2013

What's going on this morning? Detroit's officials' salaries intact, tainted steroids investigation

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Kevyn Orr leaves salaries for Mayor Bing and City Council intact

The state's new emergency manager law, which goes into effect Thursday, eliminates salaries and benefits for elected municipal officials when an emergency manager is installed.

But as Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett reports, an order signed by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr will leave the salaries of Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council members intact.

"Salaries range from more than $70,000 for council members to close to $160,000 for Mayor Dave Bing."

State Attorney General Bill Schuette calls for a grand jury investigation into meningitis outbreak

Michigan's attorney general is seeking a criminal investigation into the deaths of 17 residents from contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

As Rick Pluta explains,

"The grand jury would have the power to compel witnesses to appear and testify, including people from the four Michigan clinics that administered the injections. And it could ask a Massachusetts court to order employees of the pharmacy that made the drug to cooperate."

Wolf hunt in Michigan may be put on hold

A group opposing the hunting of gray wolves is expected to deliver tens of thousands of petition signatures to the Secretary of State's office.

If enough of the signatures are certified, a statewide vote on the proposed wolf hunt will be placed on the ballot in 2014.

Politics & Government
7:56 am
Wed March 27, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: Affirmative action, meningitis and Detroit EM

Matthileo Flickr

Week in Michigan politics interview for 3/27/13

In this week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss Michigan’s affirmative action case being taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court, how Attorney General Bill Schuette wants an in-depth investigation into the meningitis outbreak, and what Kevyn Orr has done in his first week as emergency manager for Detroit.

Read more
Stateside
4:49 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Kevyn Orr, reporting for duty

Kevyn Orr started work as EFM in Detroit today
State of Michigan

Kevyn Orr referred to his new job as Detroit's emergency manager as an olympic-sized task.

Starting today at 7:30 a.m., he reported for duty at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building for his first day on the job.

So, how'd he do?

Cynthia Canty spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek who has been following the emergency manager appointment for Detroit.

Listen to the full audio above.

Politics & Government
12:03 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Orr begins tenure as Detroit's emergency manager

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - Bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist Kevyn Orr has arrived at Detroit City Hall for his first day on the job as emergency manager.

Orr has said he expects to sit down with Mayor Dave Bing Monday and meet with some City Council members.

He was appointed earlier this month by Gov. Rick Snyder and takes over the finances of the largest city in the country to come under state oversight.

Orr also plans to look at the city's financial data to help develop his plan of action in tackling Detroit's fiscal crisis. The city has a $327 million budget deficit and more than $14 billion in debt.

Some, including a group led by prominent Detroit pastors, have said they will protest Orr's appointment and Michigan's emergency manager law.

Politics & Government
11:25 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Businesses plan to donate $8 million for Detroit EMS and police units

steve carmody

DETROIT (AP) - A number businesses plan to donate $8 million to help Detroit get 23 EMS units and 100 police cars to boost public safety and reduce response times.

Mayor Dave Bing announced the effort Monday along with racing team owner Roger Penske, who leads Penske Automotive Group.

“As local business leaders, we appreciate this opportunity to work with the mayor, and police and fire departments, to help improve safety in the neighborhoods, and our downtown," said Penske.

“We can work together to provide and drive positive momentum in our city.”

Other donors involved include Quicken Loans Inc., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Mayor Bing calls this an “unprecedented collaboration” with the city’s business community.

The money will actually go Detroit’s Downtown Development Partnership, which will lease the vehicles for the city and pay for maintenance.

But mayor Dave Bing says this isn’t about downtown.

“This is about the neighborhoods," Bing said. "So we can go out into our neighborhoods to let people know that we support them, and we have not forgotten about them.”

Violent crime in Detroit spiked last year. The city recorded 387 criminal homicides. And department cutbacks have slowed response times.

Detroiters should see the new police cars on patrol by early summer, but the EMS vehicles will take a little bit longer to arrive.

The announcement came on the same day bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist Kevyn Orr arrived at Detroit City Hall for his first day on the job as emergency manager. Orr takes over the finances of the largest city in the country to come under state oversight.

Bing said the timing of the announcement was a coincidence.

Politics & Government
7:25 am
Mon March 25, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit EM, parks face cuts, postal workers protest

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.


Read more
Politics & Government
8:34 am
Wed March 20, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: The EM for Detroit, Blue Cross overhaul, right to work

Shawn Wilson wikimedia

Week in Michigan politics interview

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.

Read more
Stateside
5:06 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager is upbeat about city's potential

Detroit emergency manager Kevin Orr
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."

Read more
Stateside
5:05 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

How much did an unkept promise cost Detroit?

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. 

Politics & Government
7:34 am
Tue March 19, 2013

In this morning's news: Blue Cross overhaul, Detroit EM unpaid taxes, Flint delays project for water

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.

Politics & Government
5:12 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Detroit emergency manager Orr pays outstanding tax bills

Kevyn Orr speaking at the press conference announcing his appointment.
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?"

Politics & Government
8:56 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Commentary: Getting used to an emergency manager

Lessenberry commentary for 3/18/13

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.

Read more

Pages