Lawsuit: Emails Show Detroit EM Recruited Before Financial Emergency Declared
DETROIT (WWJ) – The controversy continues over the appointment of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
Local activist Robert Davis filed a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Snyder and others in Ingham County Circuit Court, alleging they violated the Open Meetings Act in the appointment of Orr.
The lawsuit says emails reveal that Snyder and his team made the decision to hire Orr as the emergency manager a month before a state panel actually did.
“The governor, the state Treasurer Andy Dillon and members of the loan board had already decided that they were going to appoint Kevyn Orr as the emergency financial manager back in January, as early as January, before the City Council had even had an opportunity to exercise their right to appeal,” Davis said.
Davis alleges that the email conversations by state leaders about Orr taking the job took place before the governor even declared a financial emergency in Detroit. One of the emails specifically states its being sent from a private account “to stay below the radar for a few weeks on Detroit planning.”
Read the emails between Orr and the governor’s office (.pdf format)
“The decision to appoint Kevyn Orr was done in private and behind closed doors,” Davis said. “At the public meeting that was held, the rubber stamp on the decision, that was already decided by the governor and the emergency financial assistance loan board behind closed doors.”
One email in particular has the Governor asking in February if Orr was ready to start in Detroit. Orr wasn’t officially appointed to the position until March.
In a statement released through the governor’s office, spokesperson Sarah Wurfel said everything was done on contingency basis to be prepared for any scenario.
“As the chief executive of the state, potentially having to make a determination that would impact the state’s largest city and entire state, the governor has a strong obligation and responsibility to ensure strong due diligence,” the statement said.
“These actions were taken to ensure both the qualifications and viability of potential individuals and recommend to the ELB (emergency loan board) the very best candidate to be considered for the position in the case that became necessary. Would have to imagine that our citizens would be offended and let down if anything but that had been done.”