Orr talks stretch into evening
Detroit — The City Council will resume discussion Thursday over the future of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
The panel spent more than eight hours Wednesday in the 13th floor conference room before members broke for the day.
Earlier Wednesday, President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. cited a "sort of emergency" as he called a subcommittee meeting to order and canceled it to allow the full panel to resume its closed-door talks.
"We have a sort of emergency where we need to complete these attorney-client discussions," Cushingberry said, noting the talks focus on Detroit's emergence from bankruptcy and the timetable of Public Act 436, the state's emergency manager law.
Cushingberry made the remarks as he briefly called to order the council's budget finance and audit committee meeting. He then offered colleague Gabe Leland an opportunity to make remarks.
"Today is a pretty critical day for this body and for the city," Leland said. "I'm looking forward to some very good, positive dialogue as we move through a transition that we all know is before us."
The panel resumed its closed session around 9 a.m. after meeting for nearly 2½ hours late Tuesday in an effort to hammer out a deal for Kevyn Orr.
Under Michigan's emergency manager law, the council could remove Orr from office as early as Saturday. On Wednesday, Orr joined the talks for more than an hour.
According to the law, after serving at least 18 months Orr may, by resolution, be removed by a two-thirds vote of the City Council.
Mayor Mike Duggan and corporation counsel Melvin Hollowell participated in talks both Tuesday and Wednesday. The mayor exited the closed session around 4 p.m. Wednesday, telling reporters he's "not legally allowed to say anything about what went on in there."
"We're having lots of constructive conversations," he said, adding timing on a potential vote is up to the council. "... We're just going to keep on working."
U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, lead mediator of the city's Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, had been in the talks Tuesday. The panel has declined to reveal specifics of the closed session discussions.
The council agenda indicates the session was closed to discuss "privileged and confidential communications and legal memoranda" related to Orr's transition out of Detroit.
Council members are in a delicate position, given the political pressure to restore elected representation in Detroit while also proving to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that they are committed to carrying out the city's bankruptcy exit plan.
Gov. Rick Snyder made it known publicly late Tuesday that Orr should stick around until the city's Chapter 9 case is resolved.
"With the bankruptcy still going along, Kevyn Orr is the person that probably knows more about it than anyone," Snyder said following an appearance at the MICHAuto Summit at Cobo Center.
"To have Kevyn part of the bankruptcy process I think would probably be helpful to everyone. Those decisions don't lie with me in many respects. They lie with the City Council and the mayor so hopefully we can see progress there."
Cushingberry said earlier this week that all sides are "close to an agreement" to keep Orr in place until the bankruptcy case concludes. Then, control would be transferred back to Detroit's elected officials.