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Published: Monday, 3/25/2013

Detroit's emergency manager begins 18-month term

Kevyn Orr Kevyn Orr

DETROIT  — Detroit's new emergency manager said today he would offer a “sincere olive branch” to council members who fought against creating his job, but a crowd of protesters rallied outside City Hall as the bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist began his new role trying revive the city's beleaguered finances.

The appointment of Kevyn Orr, a Washington attorney who represented automaker Chrysler LLC during its successful restructuring, made Detroit the nation's largest city ever put under state control. State law allows emergency managers to negotiate labor contracts and deals with vendors. He can sell off city assets to raise money and cut the salaries of elected officials to save bucks.

Orr wasn't discussing specifics as he began work today, but he told reporters his first job was to meet with city officials — including a City Council that tried to resist any manager from being appointed. He also met with Mayor Dave Bing early today.

“I want to offer a sincere olive branch and an opportunity for us to work together,” Orr said.

After Orr spoke, about 150 people protested his appointment outside City Hall.

A review team spent two months scrutinizing Detroit's books and reported to Gov. Rick Snyder that the city was in a financial emergency, citing its long-term debt of more than $14 billion and $327 million budget deficit. Snyder agreed and earlier this month chose Orr for the job.

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