DETROIT - If it stung you to learn Detroit had filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr doesn't exactly feel your pain.
That's not because he is not sympathetic or because he is not a native Detroiter. It's because it's just business, and Orr feels it's the best business for Detroit.
"But I understand it. I understand a lot of people look at it and have concerns. But frankly, my view of it is it's progress," Orr said. "This is something that we've got to do one way or the other. We have $18 billion of debt. We only have $1 billion a year of revenue. We've got to address this problem."
How long will it take? Orr says a likely timetable to emerge from bankruptcy might be the fall of 2014. The city didn't get to this point overnight.
"The governor said, he has continued to say, that this is a problem that goes back 60 years. Sure, and I know that there is a hesitancy to affix blame," Orr said.
Orr said he believes there were decisions made more recently that could have avoided all of this.
"Some of the behavior that occurred in prior administrations was not only scandalous but criminal," he said. "The reverberations of some of the neglect and conduct is still being felt. The reason I say I don't want to look back and attribute blame is, even if I did, so what?"
For some time, Orr has weathered the complaints that his very presence is an affront to democracy. He disputes that he is seeing Detroit just like any other enterprise that can't cover its debts. Some have argued the city just needed more time to fix its own leaky roof. Orr doesn't buy that.
"You had an opportunity in November of 2011 when you negotiated a consent agreement. You had an opportunity from then until March of 2013, this year, to comply with 21 points in the consent agreement and not one of them was met. So, receiverships are quite common in common law and this is just a receivership," said Orr.
For Devin Scillian's full interview with Orr on Detroit's bankruptcy filing watch this coming Sunday's episode of Flashpoint.
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