Detroit had an historical year in 2014, to say the least and to say it again.
The city’s bankruptcy – history’s largest municipal case, as we’ve said, written and blogged countless times — monopolized local news, and 2014 brought Detroit and the bankruptcy to the forefront of all local and some national news outlets. Former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes captured headlines, and the “grand bargain” became a household phrase.
Here is a look at some of the year-end news recaps as well as into what 2015 might hold for Detroit:
The city’s past and the future were discussed on 2014’s final Flash Point with optimism reigning supreme. Former City Council Shelia Cockrel, however, “cautions city officials that hard work is on the horizon as the return from bankruptcy continues.”
The WDIV program’s guests included Portia Roberson, the city’s group executive for civil rights and ethics, Cockrel, political consultant Adolph Mongo and The Detroit News’s Nolan Finley. The picture painted of the future is bright but not without bumps in the road.
Roberson predicts 2015 will “undoubtedly be a better year for the city of Detroit, thanks to the emergence from bankruptcy and resulting financial flexibility.” But Cockrel cautions city officials that there is plenty of work left. Mongo suggested ways the city can avoid past mistakes, Finley recommend focusing on raising revenues.
The Detroit Free Press provided comprehensive coverage throughout 2014 about the bankruptcy. Through their extensive reporting, Freep reporters composed a bit “manifesto” chronicling Detroit, the bankruptcy and how it got there. “And, ultimately, it’s the story of how, one by one, like soldiers switching sides in the midst of battle, the major players and creditors who had been at war with the city dropped their objections and joined a “grand bargain” to save Detroit.” It was published in November, but we think it’s worthy of a re-post at year’s end.
Crain’s Detroit Business named Orr and Rhodes Newsmakers of the Year for 2014. Their work doing what many believe to be impossible earned them this titled.
USA Today, in a year-end wrap up of the single biggest news stories in all 50 states, named the bankruptcy as Michigan’s. “The nightmare is over,” they wrote.
Still, the bankruptcy didn’t solve all of the city’s problems. An Agence France-Presse piece, published in Business Insider, outlines the great progress the city has had but also makes note of problems that still lie ahead.
The venerable New York Times also points out that many questions remain to be answered as the city moves forward.
For the local take on what remains, here are the Freep’s answers to those questions.
Detroit’s weekly business publication couldn’t decide. So Publisher Keith Crain picked two “Newsmakers of the Year.” Former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes. Amy Haimerl, of Crain’s Detroit Business, talked with Detroit Today hosts Laura Weber Davis and Stephen Henderson about the “award.”
Effective at midnight tonight, Detroit is no longer in bankruptcy…and Kevyn Orr is no longer the emergency manager.
Orr, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan met with reporters this morning. They made statements, thanked numerous parties and looked ahead to Detroit’s next chapter.
Here’s some of what they said:
“We are thankful that at this point the city will emerge later today, by the time I go to bed, from bankruptcy. We will exit and we look forward, truly to a better time for the city going forward.”
“The reality is that the city is moving forward and that gives me a great deal of pride and satisfaction.”
“How can we make sure the neighborhoods are coming back, jobs are being created?”
“If you look at the timeframe, over the last year or so, we’ve seen a major improvement in city services which was long overdue.”
“I want to recognize the retirees who are taking some cuts through this. That shouldn’t be forgotten.”
“We’re showing in this world, compared to the old world, where you used to hear about deficits, new problem and new issues. Now we’re showing how we can work together, show better results, and I’m really excited about partnering, again with the mayor and city council and only watching that path get better and better.”
“We’re all focused on growing the city of Detroit, a tremendously exciting outcome. … We’ve got an outstanding outcome, far better than people’s expectations.”
“The Plan of Adjustment gives us the tools to have a chance to succeed.”
Some of the city’s consultants, hired before the bankruptcy was filed, will continue with the city specifically for financial matters.
“All the drama has been on the bankruptcy side. It hasn’t been with the city officials. … People of the city have seen the improvements.”
“We’re going to start fresh tomorrow, and we’re going to do the best we can to deliver the services people of the city deserve. … Tomorrow’s not different than any other day.”
“Kevyn Orr. Former Emergency Manager. That has a nice ring to it.”
Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan are scheduled to appear at an 11 a.m. news conference today to discuss Orr’s resignation and the city’s exit from bankruptcy. You can watch it live here.
Appearing on Michigan Radio’s Stateside program, Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes characterizes Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s tenure, saying he was “judicious” in using the power he had under Michigan law. He told host Lester Graham that Orr could have stripped pay and power from Detroit’s mayor and City Council, and could have been more aggressive about extracting concessions from the city’s unions in bankruptcy court.
Detroit’s financial emergency is over, according to Gov. Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
The two men will be joined by Mayor Mike Duggan at an 11 a.m. news conference today to discuss the city’s exit from Chapter 9.
Detroit residents are determining how to move forward after the elimination of Citizens District Councils (CDCs). CDCs have been around since the Blighted Area Rehabilitation Act of 1945 granted Michigan cities the right to acquire blighted properties using the power of eminent domain. But last month—in one of his final acts as the city’s fully-empowered emergency manager–Kevyn Orr issued an order abolishing CDCs in Detroit. The move came as a surprise to many and provoked mixed reactions from people involved in community-based development in Detroit. Our Detroit Journalism Cooperative Partner Michigan Radio has this report.