Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr )
As a resident of Maryland, Kevyn Orr doesnít get to vote in next monthís Detroit mayoral election. But few people in the city have a bigger stake in the outcome of the balloting than does Orr.
Whoever is elected, itís Orr who will have to find a relevant role for the new mayor, while making sure he doesnít obstruct the cityís restructuring.
Dave Bing, the soon-to-be outgoing mayor, has accepted his non-player status at City Hall. He grumbles a bit when his pride rears up, but doesnít make any real trouble for the emergency manager.
Itís bound to be a different story in January, when either Benny Napoleon or Mike Duggan is inaugurated as mayor. Neither is likely to be as accepting of a ceremonial role.
I recently asked Orr whom heíd prefer. He wouldnít say, but it was evident heíd thought about the challenge of managing a new mayor.
From my view, Napoleon would be most likely to content himself cutting ribbons and giving commencement speeches. But heís now saddled himself with Krystal Crittendon as his running mate.
The cityís former corporation counsel was a nightmare when she was running the law department, and I canít imagine Orr would tolerate her taking pot shots at him every day, even if Napoleon stayed out of his way. Crittendon would be the deal breaker if it were me.
But Duggan is no picnic either. Heís not in this race to wait patiently for Orr to leave in a year. If he wins, heíll have overcome the challenge of a write-in primary campaign and the handicap of being the first legitimate white mayoral candidate in 40 years.
You donít work that hard to get in the game and then meekly go the sidelines. Dugganís going to want to be a real mayor.
What that looks like is hard to envision. Duggan is convinced he can convince Gov. Rick Snyder to put him in charge of restructuring and running the city, while Orr deals strictly with the bankruptcy.
I think heíll be disappointed. Orr sees the restructuring as integral to creating a Detroit that is viable post-bankruptcy. My bet is that his vision of the new mayorís role is far more limited, perhaps overseeing anti-blight efforts or something similar. But itís not making the decisions about how the city operates.
Duggan has a huge ego. So does Orr. And theyíll be sitting 12 feet from each other on the 11th floor of City Hall. The potential for a daily clash of the titans is enormous.
The governorís staff is trying to come up with a solution. They donít want the new mayor agitating and subverting. Nor do they want Detroiters to feel any more disenfranchised by having the mayor they elect in November disregarded.
It will be tricky to manage. But in the end, Orr has the hammer. If the new mayor becomes a distraction to the work he has to do, the emergency manager law gives him the power to remove him.
I donít know if Orr would prefer to deal with Duggan or Napoleon. But I bet he wishes he had Dave Bing to ignore for a while longer.