Following the bankruptcy trial, WDET headed into Detroit’s neighborhoods with panels of city officials and neighborhood advocates. We met with residents, heard their questions, asked our own and got some answers. Here are those meetings, recorded, as they aired on WDET’s Detroit Today program. Topics: City services, public safety, blight, lighting and (inclusive) development.
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.
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’s Financial Review Commission, created by the “grand bargain” legislation, holds its second meeting Friday. The agenda includes reviewing budget timelines and the city’s Plan of Adjustment. The panel also will discuss audit activities.
The nine-member group plans to meet at 9 a.m. in the Michigan Gaming Control Board Meeting Room at 3062 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
At the commission’s first meeting last week, members adopted resolutions ensuring they will comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings law.
Member Bill Martin, one of the gubernatorial appointees, appeared on WDET’s Detroit Today program and discussed the commission, its work and how it will coordinate with city officials.
A judge is allowing a challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law to go forward in federal court in Detroit.
Filed last year, the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that it violates rights of due process, voting and representative government under the U.S. Constitution. Defendants in the case are Gov. Rick Snyder and former state Treasurer Andy Dillon.
In May, Judge George Caram Steeh held a hearing in Detroit after the state moved to dismiss the lawsuit.
Now, the judge has denied the state’s request and is allowing the case to go forward on the grounds that it violates the constitution’s equal protection clause. Currently a majority of Michigan’s African-American population lives in cities that have or have had emergency managers.
In his ruling Steeh wrote that his decision should not affect Detroit’s bankruptcy case, which was brought by the city’s emergency manager acting under the power of the law being challenged.
Detroit is moving closer to exiting bankruptcy which means the state financial review commission will have a role in monitoring the city’s operations. WDET’s Sandra Svoboda talked with City Council Member James Tate about what that arrangement means for Detroit. Here’s the interview, with a full transcript below.
JAMES TATE: The role of the city council post bankruptcy is really the same role we had pre bankruptcy. We’re the stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. Now as a result of the bankruptcy and restructuring those billions of dollars, it has given us some cushion. Not cushion to have and play and have a great time with. But really to put toward those services that have been so desperately diminished over the years.
SANDRA SVOBODA: You’re going to have plenty of eyes on you as you proceed, specifically the Financial Review Commission that was part of the state legislation. Tell me about how that group will interact with the city council.
TATE: The financial review group, they’re going to basically provide that oversight. They’re not over the day-to-day operations as I mentioned previously, as the mayor and the city council, we’re still in charge of the city but we’re going to have to make sure we provide them with reports. Those reports are going to have to be vetted. That’s why it’s important to have – and I know it became somewhat of an issue with the judge — it’s important to have council president as well as the mayor on that team because they’re able to advocate and express clearly so there’s no ambiguity as to what those plans are and what we have in those budgets. If it were my choice, would we not have the group there? Absolutely. You want to be able to govern freely without having someone peeking over your shoulder. But ultimately we’re looking at this as making the best of the situation that we’re in.
SVOBODA: Do your colleagues on city council hold generally that opinion or is there more of a spectrum of support or opposition for the financial review commission or more opposition than you seem to have?
TATE: We really haven’t had that conversation, if others feel the same way as I do. When you start looking at the actions of this particular city council, this group is very realistic about looking at the situation that we’re in. We can scream and moan and complain about the fact that there is a financial review commission there. That won’t result in much but a lot of noise being made but I don’t think you’re going to have a lot of complaints about the situation because the reality is they’re here and I think the goal is to do everything we can to get the commission to no longer be here.
SVOBODA: Characterize for me what the bankruptcy process was able to change relative to the city council’s role that will prevent another financial crisis from happening.
TATE: It’s hard to say because there wasn’t one thing that created our financial burden that we were under, our financial stress, financial burden, financial crisis. It was a number of different things that took place. Ultimately the argument can be held that there are several layers of oversight that will ensure that not just city council but the city as a whole that the decision makers will not make those detrimental financial deals that will drag down the city.
SVOBODA: Do we have an exit date for Kevyn Orr and what will be the biggest change in the atmosphere or environment on that day?
TATE: I don’t have that date. I’m not sure what it is. We built into the final order that he would only be here to work on the bankruptcy. Now that we’re winding that down, he is no longer effectively running the city. I will say Kevyn Orr has been definitely a lot less heavy handed than many of the other emergency managers around the country. When he came in there was a big fear that he was going be like some of the others, I mean the state, excuse, he was going to be like some of the others where he would say “OK city government, move aside. I’ll take this.” I will say to his credit that he did work with us. He did not have the expertise when it came to the city as a whole. But I don’t think that we’re going to see very much in the way the city operates and functions. We’re here now. It’s the new normal. What you see today is a government that is focused on service, ensuring that our financial challenges no longer exist in the way as they did in the past. Not to say that because of the national economy, if it changes, even the state as well because we are at the bottom end of that totem pole. But I think with Kevyn Orr exiting, you won’t see much of a difference from where we are today.