Kevyn Orr on the record with NABJ
Emergency manager discusses efforts to turn around the city’s finances
By Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News
Detroit-Former Detroit Financial Emergency Manager Kevin Orr joined members of the Detroit chapter of NABJ Dec. 2 for a no holds-bar, on-the-record discussion of his nearly two-year tenure as emergency manager for the city.
NABJ Region 4 Director Vickie Thomas, reporter for WWJ, CBS radio in Detroit, led the discussion with Orr. Other members of the local media, such as Detroit Free Press reporter Cassandra Spratling and Detroit NABJ President Felecia Henderson, quizzed Orr, who shared his reflections as head of the city for the last 20 months as Detroit began the journey toward bankruptcy, which officially ended Dec. 10.
Orr told Detroit journalists that he felt his proudest achievement as emergency manager was completing the steps toward bankruptcy without sparking unrest in the city.
“My biggest accomplishment was keeping my word without any kind of civil strife,” Orr told members at The Detroit News and Free Press headquarters in downtown Detroit.
As a result of the bankruptcy, which was approved by U.S. District Judge Steven Rhodes in November, the city was able to dump $7 billion in debt and pump $1.7 billion into investments for restructuring and service improvements for Detroit over the next decade.
He predicted the city’s ever-growing downtown will be “off the charts” in the next several years.
Brighter days are ahead for Detroit, Orr said, adding he will always be “a little bit of a cheerleader for Detroit.”
He told longtime city residents who feel that the city is no longer in their hands: “It’s still your city,” he said. “Make it better.”
In response to questions about exorbitant fees for bankruptcy lawyers and other consultants, totaling about $177 million. Orr said: “Nobody gets this job done on a 9-5. Nobody gets this job done on the cheap.”
Orr urged journalists to keep a watchful eye on the city’s finances and those who oversee the budgetary process like the Detroit Financial Review Team as the city moves forward.
Orr, a bankruptcy attorney from Washington, D.C., told DC-NABJ he did not know of what his future plans were just yet.