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Detroit leaders vote to keep Kevyn Orr on as EM, limit his powers

State of Michigan

As of Friday morning Detroit’s elected officials are back in charge of city operations—but Kevyn Orr is still technically the city’s emergency manager.

That’s because Detroit officials have approved a deal stripping Orr of most of his powers.

In the deal approved by the City Council and Mayor Mike Duggan Thursday, Orr will stay on as emergency manager until Detroit exits bankruptcy.

But his powers will be restricted to managing the bankruptcy process. Elected officials will re-take control of all other city operations.

Orr says that for technical, legal reasons related to the bankruptcy, everyone agreed it was best for him to stay on.

“In order not to raise any questions with regard to some of the documents, the financial agreements we have, and the structures we have in place…we need to maintain this for just a little while longer,” Orr said.

Orr will leave as soon as Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, known as a plan of adjustment, takes effect. A trial to decide how and when that will happen is still ongoing.

Duggan and the Council could have voted to remove Orr. Michigan’s emergency manager law allows that, with certain limitations, after an emergency manager has been in office for 18 months.

City Council President Brenda Jones says Detroit is “ready for democracy” again—but Orr needs to stick around in a limited role until the bankruptcy case winds down.

“We’re not bankruptcy lawyers,” Jones said. “We wanted the proceedings to end. And we knew that Kevyn Orr would be the best person to do so.”

Orr signed onto the deal--which also has Governor Snyder’s blessing—Thursday evening.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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