CHICAGO — Detroit's new emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr began his new job Monday by extending an "olive branch" to the Detroit City Council and saying he would decide by the end of the week whether to cut their salaries and the salary of Mayor Dave Bing.
Orr made the remarks Monday morning during his first press conference as EFM. He said he had no specific agenda for the week outside of meeting with Bing and Detroit City Council members, and repeated that his top priorities are dealing with the city's debt, employee benefits, and city services.
Appearing alongside Bing, Orr said he planned to meet with council members later that morning.
"I acknowledged to the mayor this is somewhat of a unique situation," the Washington D.C.-based bankruptcy attorney said. "There is a role for city council. They are elected officials, and I am not. They certainly have their ear to the rail and the pulse of the community," he said.
"I envision them participating in this process to the extent permitted by the law," Orr said.
The state's new emergency management law, which takes effect Thursday, automatically eliminates the salaries and benefits of local elected officials, although the EM can restore them.
Protesters critical of the state takeover gathered outside City Hall, and a group of about 70 took a bus to Cleveland to protest outside the headquarters of Jones Day LLP, where Orr was a partner until two weeks ago. Jones Day is also the city's outside restructuring counsel.
Earlier Monday morning, Bing held his own press conference announcing an $8 million donation from the city's businesses — including the Big Three automobile companies — that will be used to buy 100 new police cars and replace the fire department's entire ambulance fleet.
Bing heralded the donation as an "unprecedented collaboration between the mayor's office and the city's business community."
Public safety officials said the new equipment would boost response time by police and fire, a key concern for citizens.
The 23 new ambulances will replace the fire department's entire fleet of EMS vehicles.
The vehicles will be leased, not owned by the city. A non-profit group will oversee maintenance, Bing said.
The businesses include the Penske Automotive Group, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Quicken Loans Inc.