Detroit EFM Orr taking charge with executive orders

Since taking over one of the largest municipal governments in the country as Detroit’s emergency financial manager, on March 25, Washington, DC bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr is settling into his new position by issuing directives on how both the Detroit City Council and the Office of the Mayor will function under an emergency manager.

Orr issued three executive orders, clearly defining how he intends to move forward for the next 18 months as he embarks on taclking the city’s fiscal crisis.

His first order was to retain the salaries and benefits of both the mayor and city council in place, a move some observers called smart in order to maintain a healthy working relationship between Orr and Detroit’s elective body.

In the order, Orr, indicated that the mayor and council will play a vital role in the collaborative process of addressing the city’s financial emergency. Because of that, he wants to cooperate with the council, noting that he’s not an elected official.

“Council are the representatives of the people,” Orr told the Chronicle during his first sit-down interview with the newspaper, adding that he’ll be gone one day and there will still be council members and a mayor.

“I want them to be partners with me,” he said.

Orr’s second order approved the financial contribution of ambulances and police cruisers by corporate donors; and his third stated that the final decision on the budget and other such matters won’t become valid until Orr or his designee agrees in writing.

Orr’s appointment by Gov. Snyder has resulted in various protests, including one inexplicable and ill-conceived one last week involving slowing traffic on I-75.

One group of protestors, led by Rev. Charles Williams II, pastor of Historic King Solomon Baptist Church, traveled to Cleveland to hold a rally outside the Jones Day law firm, where Orr had been a partner.

Protesters in Detroit included Tellis Chapman, pastor of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, one of the city’s most respected religious figures.

Even the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition denounced the apppointment of an emergency financial manager saying it is not right way to address the government in financial crisis. Jackson, who described what has transpired as the usurpation of democracy, is calling for a “major nonviolent demonstration” to resist Orr’s appointment.

Jones Day is also the center of controversy, given that contracts were pending with that firm and council members had questions about whether Orr, who left the firm when hired as the emergency financial manager still maintains ties to his former employer.

Orr, in his position as EFM, has the final say in whether the city enters into contracts with Jones Day or some other entity.

Mayor Bing advocated that Jones Day serve as the city’s restructuring counsel.

According to reports, the president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, Rev. Charles Williams II, claimed that Jones Day would be the actual EFM.

In interviews, Orr has indicated that his goals include helping business by cutting red tape for permits and licenses.

Orr has indicated that all options are open on the matter of getting the city’s financial house in order.

In a recent interview with the Chronicle, Council President Charles Pugh stated that he’s always been an optimist, and that with Orr’s presence, the city can make the best of a bad situation.

He also indicated that the city will be stronger on the other side of its debt restructuring.

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