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Michigan Gov. names Detroit emergency financial manager

2:50 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing (Getty Images file)

DETROIT -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder this afternoon introduced Detroit to Kevyn Orr, the man he will put in charge of fixing the city's financial mess and trying to avoid a bankruptcy.

Detroit became the largest city in U.S. history to be taken over by its home state with today's appointment of Orr, 54, a high-powered Washington, D.C., lawyer and University of Michigan graduate who worked on Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy restructuring. He will oversee efforts to stabilize a city flailing under more than $14 billion in long-term liabilities, an accumulated deficit of $327 million, a plummeting tax based and unprecedented population loss.

"I make this decision after careful and thoughtful deliberation," said Snyder, flanked by Orr and Mayor Dave Bing, who Snyder thanked for partnering with him and agreeing to work with Orr.

Snyder said he will recommend Orr to be approved later this afternoon by the state's emergency loan board based on Orr's ability to work with people cooperatively, great technical skills and a record of tough decision making

"I don't view this as an act of isolation. This is not about asking one individual to come in and turn around the city of Detroit. This is a problem that has now reached a true crisis point ... This is an opportunity for us to work together, to bring people together as Detroit, Michigan."

Ahead of the appointment, the mood was somber this morning at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

The City Council decided earlier today to not challenge Snyder's appointment in court. Council met this morning in public, with Councilwoman JoAnn Watson making a motion to hire the Sugar Law Center to possible pursue a legal challenge in either Wayne or Ingham counties. The council went into a closed session at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the matter. After the closed session, the council emerged and Watson withdrew her motion.

Council President Charles Pugh said other legal challenges - not by council - are possible. Council members Jenkins, Kwame Kenyatta and Brenda Jones did not attend.

In a decision that has prompted protests and anger, a state review team last month declared Detroit in a financial emergency from which it can't recover without state intervention.

Detroit joins Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Pontiac and Benton Harbor as cities that have been taken over by the state amid financial crises. Detroit's public schools are also under an emergency financial manager, as the district's student population fell amid the declining fortunes of Detroit, which has faced unprecedented population loss and a severe fall in tax revenues.

(Detroit Free Press)

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