DETROIT (WWJ) – The shape of Detroit’s financial future and city leadership could be determined in the week ahead.
The busy week begins Monday when the Financial Advisory Board will meet with state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and others. The board was created with the consent agreement when city council and the mayor’s office were in charge, and the question has been raised as to whether or not the board is still need with Orr now at the helm.
Tuesday, the Detroit City Council will move to fill vacancies created by the disappearance of Council President Charles Pugh and the departure of president pro tem Gary Brown, who moved on to a position in Orr’s office.
Council members asked for a written opinion from the city’s law department before voting to replace Pugh, who has been AWOL for weeks amid claims that he had an inappropriate relationship with a high school student he mentored.
That’s after Pugh missed several council meetings and requested a four-week medical leave — which Orr denied. No criminal charges have been filed.
Michigan Chronicle Senior Editor Bankole Thomson says Detroit citizens want to know what’s going on.
“Charles owes the city of Detroit an answer,” Thomson told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas. “He was elected by the city of Detroit, so he needs to show up and explain what really took place, instead of allowing people to insinuate and begin to, you know, create rumors and talk about what happened, what did not happen.
“I think he really needs to show up … Leadership does not require you to run away. Leadership — in times of difficulty — really requires you to step up and show up,” Thompson said.
Pugh has already been stripped of his power and pay after he failed to return to work as Orr had ordered.
With Pugh off the job and Brown both off the, that leaves only six remaining council members after Councilman Kwame Kenyatta quit.
Also this week, Wednesday, Orr is set to meet with the city’s pension boards to talk concessions, and will take Wall Street creditors on a bus tour of the city to see how the financial crisis has impacted the city.
Creditors are being asked to take about 10 cents on the dollar of what’s owed them and underfunded pension claims would get less, as Orr now estimates the city’s long-term debt at $20 billion.
After a closed-door meeting with creditors last month, Orr said there’s still about a 50-50 chance the city will file for a municipal bankruptcy.