DETROIT (AP) — Public lighting, clearing blighted structures and other once-faltering services already have improved despite Detroit’s dive into bankruptcy, emergency manager Kevyn Orr told The Associated Press.
Orr said during Thursday’s interview that 26,000 lights have been added or fixed, police are responding more quickly to 911 calls and efforts to tear down vacant houses have stepped up.
Appointed by the governor last spring to fix Detroit’s finances, Orr maintains that improving the quality of life for the city’s 700,000 residents remains a major priority. But it won’t be done all at once — some changes will happen before he finishes in Detroit by next fall, while other changes may take up to three years.
“The average resident thinks that’s nice if they’re in the neighborhood that gets the lights,” Orr said. “They think it’s great if the blighted house they’ve been living with for 30 years is the one that goes down.
“The question is will all residents see that change on any time within the next nine months? The probability is not everybody will see the changes everywhere.”
Public works is one of the many things involved in the city’s bankruptcy, which Judge Steven Rhodes decided could go through on Dec. 3.
Rhodes also said Detroit can cut pensions, overriding a provision in the Michigan Constitution — the most significant decision since the historic filing last July and one that adds urgency to the process. The ruling also gives Orr’s team the upper hand as they try to strike deals with Wall Street bond holders, pension funds and unions.
The pensions of 23,000 retirees won’t be immune to cuts despite a private effort to raise $500 million to help the city eventually emerge from bankruptcy, he said.
Orr said he “absolutely” supports a campaign to tap foundations and wealthy people to prevent the possible sale of city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts and preserve pensions but warned that the “expectations of the retiree community should be sober.”
“Let’s face it: having $500 million is better than not having $500 million,” Orr said. “If we can find a way to allocate that to pensions — the other creditors might have something to say about that. … That’s a big, big help, but even that amount isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Orr said he hasn’t noticed any change at the bargaining table since Rhodes’ decision. He wants to file a remedy for $18 billion in long-term debt by early January, including $3.5 billion in two underfunded pension funds.
“We’re running out of time even now. … I can’t really say that the creditors’ tone has changed in any fashion,” Orr said. “They’re in very hard positions. There’s no money.”
Orr declined to say whether the pensions of firefighters and police officers should be treated differently in bankruptcy than the pensions of other rank-and-file retirees. The public safety pension fund is in better shape, and its beneficiaries typically get more. He said he has an opinion but considers the issue “too sensitive” to share publicly.
A safe, clean city could stop the flow of people leaving Detroit and even attract some to move in. The population has fallen to 700,000 from 1.8 million in the 1950s.
“There’s never going to be a whole bunch of new money,” Orr said. “There’s always going to be needs for the city that exceed the level of money we have. … If it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three years to deal with it all that’s a pretty good deal.
“And if we can demonstrate what it’s going to look like in the first nine months, that’s pretty significant.”
(AP Photo: Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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