• Mar 15, 2013
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, left, Gov. Rick Snyder and eme... Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, left, Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr (AP).
There is a new sherrif in town in Detroit, the home of America's home-grown auto industry. The Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, chose Washington DC bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as emergency manager of the nearly destitute city, pushing the elected Mayor and City Council aside to see if one man with a license to kill corruption and mismanagement without having to build consensus can set the Motor City on a road to recovery.

The move by Snyder to take over Detroit is especially controversial. The voters of Michigan voted last November to do away with the Emergency Manager law, which allows the Governor to install a czar to take over the operations and finances of a city that can't meet it obligations. But the Governor and state Republican led state legislature ignored the will of the voters and swiftly passed a new law to replace it.

If Snyder's approach to state politics has been ham-fisted and partisan up to now, he is being much more nuanced in his move to take over Detroit. Orr is an African-American Democrat who worked on the Presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John Kerry. While Orr has the credentials to be an emergency manager, his race and party politics, the Governor's thinking must be, will make his actions and moves more digestible by a largely African American populace (83%) in Detroit.

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What does the 54-year old lawyer say about the challenge of fixing Detroit? "It's the Olympics of restructuring." "If we can do this, I will have participated in one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of this country, and that is something I can tell my grand-kids about," Orr said. "So it's very inviting, very challenging."

Detroit's biggest corporate citizen General Motors, whose multi-tower corporate headquarters dominates the riverside and the city skyline, went through bankruptcy in 2009. And while the company has roared back with healthy financial performance, the city of Detroit remains in a financial hole following decades of citizen exodus to the suburbs, corruption and mismanagement. The city that has a footprint to support two million residents has just 700,000 today, and far too many of those residents are either jobless, under-employed or on public assistance.

Mayor Dave Bing, a former Detroit Piston and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said he will not appeal the Governor's decision to appoint Orr and that he will work with the University of Michigan graduate to fix the city. A bankruptcy is not certain for Detroit, but the appointment of a bankruptcy expert clearly shows it is a possibility. Orr starts work on March 25.

Orr's appointment has been met with numerous protests, including people in cars purposely creating gridlock on the highways leading in and out of the city.

"When he signs into order an emergency management, he's saying we don't have a voice," the Rev. W.J. Rideout III told the Detroit Free Press. "When you're telling me I don't have a voice, you're taking away my constitutional rights."

Here is a rundown of what Orr has to deal with:

- 70,000 abandoned buildings
- $15 billion in long-term debt obligations
- That debt includes $5.5 billion in future healthcare liabilities to city employee unions and retirees.
- Bloated city bureaucracies
- Evaluation of city employee headcount. Detroit has laid off thousands of people over the last decade, but more are likely to go. The city had more than 17,000 employees in 2003 and about 10,000 in 2012. Expect Orr to cut office employees, and beef up police to improve public safety and crime prevention.
- There are simply too few gainfully employed families who want to live in Detroit and send their kids to the city's over-crowded public schools. That is a terrible drag on the city's tax base and neighborhood development.
- Unemployment in the Detroit-Warren-Livonia area, as tracked by the state, was one 10% at the end 2012. It's higher in the City of Detroit.
- Thirty-six percent of Detroiters live under the poverty level, compared with 16% of people in the State of Michigan.
- The City's bond rating has been in junk territory since 1992, which means they have to pay much higher rates on their debt than other cities.
- Violent crime per capita is worst in the country largely driven by gang crime and lack of police resources.


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  • 72 Comments
      lukedude27
      • 1 Year Ago
      My grandpa Saylor lived in palmer woods. It's a holdout from the guilded age of detroit. Big ornate mansions, After his death in 1999 my dad sold his house for $189,000 thats all they could get for it in Detroit The house was 9800 square feet, Inground pool, Carrige house. But surrounding this glorious Detroit subdivision that had a private security force. Was the blight and poverty of Detroit. The downtown itself is not to bad around the sports complexes Ford Field (Lions) or Comerica Park (Tigers) buy be out before dark because the streets get dangerous after dark. Around the casinos is nice (Private Police) But most of teh area is burned out hulking houses that have not been lived in for decades. Litter everywhere burned out cars on just about every corner. How sad this place has become. Its going to take more than Mr. Orr to bring this place back from the dead. Put a fence up along 8 mile road and get everound out of teh city and take a match to it, Start all over again. That will be the only way to fix it.
      momsladiebug
      • 1 Year Ago
      But the Governor and state Republican led state legislature ignored the will of the voters and swiftly passed a new law to replace [the Emergency Manager Law]. I'm not surprised because in this city most of those voters are criminals. Felons intimidate legal voters so they have a majority voice to vote down anything that will impinge on their freedom to ride roughshod over the impoverished city residents who are stuck there. Detroit will never be able to attract business if they don't get a handle on the rampant crime and bring back some dignity and safety to its residents.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @momsladiebug
        That was a state wide referendum, duh. Are you saying the entire population of state of Michigan are criminals? People of the state are not warm to dictatorships.
          Gabbo
          • 1 Year Ago
          You mean the UAW's proposition that was voted down by a huge margin in last November's election? The one that tried to cram "colective bargaining" down the Michigan public's throat ? The one that was defeated by a landslide ???
      • 1 Year Ago
      To wiper44, are you talking about bulldozing and exterminating the people as well. Is that your answer. Sounds a lot like Hitler's "final solution"
      ronandjen2
      • 1 Year Ago
      The residents that are left keep electing corrupt losers over and over and over. I think its skin color and mentality issues.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ronandjen2
        Reported for racism. If you can't and don't want to help, don't try like this.
          razbeast
          • 1 Year Ago
          Hey Peter, or is it Dick? Go cry somewhere else.
          vlady1000
          • 1 Year Ago
          The truth hurts sometimes. Detroit residents (what is left) are "unique" to other "culturally diverse" cities.
          papajokr
          • 1 Year Ago
          So now, just stating a fact is racism? Get a grip penus.
      bandy4321
      • 1 Year Ago
      Coming to a big city near you. California is next.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Exactly How much is the savior going to be paid in Wages and fringe benefits?
      jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      To solve there problem I suggest sending trucks loads of weapons and see who wins.
        jaded13640
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jerry
        I grew up there. They already have them. There hasn't been a winner yet. I'm still waiting. Seriously, they needed to do something. The ghetto got really bad. Even the assembly plants are mostly gone. It's a crap hole. If they don't do something about the crime and corruption, they might as well nuke the damn place. It's the ******* of the universe and needed to be wiped.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jaded13640
          You said you grew up. Are you sure?
      Ron Wizard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Detroit and California is what you get when you allow democrats paint a rosie Nirvana picture into uninformed voters head. Take any social issue that democrats harp on, its always twisted with amazingly obvious lies, hipocracy and contradictions that will baffle any sane person's thought process. Some how the worst of the worst in the democratic party always find there way to position of power as an elected official, and further warp the minds of uninformed voters. This seem to be an endless cycle, broken only when a state, city or town reach the point of 95% poverty and bankruptcy that hurt everyone. By this time its too late. But these leaders and their aids that caused the shameful problems that hurt so many, always seem to move on to the next stupid state, city or town to pratice their destructive trade, again admired by the uninformed. The cancer of./on society cycle continue.
      Tom
      • 1 Year Ago
      He's about as likely to put Detroit on the road to recovery as Obama is to do the same for the rest of the country. Of course if the rest of the country goes the way of Detroit, things won't seem so bad there. We've all heard of "trickle down" prosperity, let's see if "trickle up" poverty works.
        momsladiebug
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Tom
        "Trickle up poverty" is working better than Obama could have hoped. He has almost succeeded in destroying the entire middle class putting them under his thumb along with the rest of the oppressed and subjugated poor. All this while making the top 5% richer. He doesn't really want to tax the rich. He's just putting that in as a hardline policy so the Republicans won't pass any of his economic policies. Obama is the sneakiest, most conniving snake oil salesman ever to disgrace the Oval Office. And unfortunately, there are too many people out there who bought his spiel. They aren't even any better off, but still they worship their God Obama. I don't understand it. In the not so distant future, I see all large urban centers looking like Detroit -- crime ridden cesspools of humanity filled with Obamaites who want something for nothing and corruption reigns supreme.
      • 1 Year Ago
      A bright shinning example of the failure of liberialism...
      Rebecca
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's see, has the "financial management" positions worked in any of the other places the governor has eliminated democracy in that state? Like it or not, this is fascism. MI has a king, a dictator, he is certainly a governor in name only. I don't think anybody disagrees that America needs to be rebuilt. What the 2 parties disagree on is how that rebuilding should come about. My city is much like many cities in MI. Run down, old, depressed and poor. We've suffered "white flight" for years. It used to be a manufacturing city. But most of the manufacturing has left, except for GE locomotive, which employees a fraction of the workers than they used to. And we have some plastic shops that pay mostly minimum wage--McDonald's pays better and offers better benefits. My city's government is also corrupt. Majorly corrupt. A former mayor was brought up charges and sadly found not guilty for a land deal that would have made him wealthy if a development had gone where he wanted it to go. The development went to an alternate site when the controversy broke out. One of the complaints of the Occupy movement is corruption within government. Funny how right wingers complain about Occupy but I see now are agreeing with one of Occupy's major complaints. You can't have it both ways.
        Gabbo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rebecca
        You LOVE us when it comes time to pay YOUR bills !! Didn't you think we'd get tired of this same routine, sooner or later ?
      Ron Kolb
      • 1 Year Ago
      These pictures of Detroit are a wake-up call for the rest of America. The current administration wants to pour billions of dollars into urban areas like this to rebuild them and give "hope" to its residents. You cannot give hope to people who have little respect for their own place of residence and even less for their surrounding neighborhood. The photos tell a story that is sad but true.
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