DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager says he did not promise to file for bankruptcy as a condition of getting the gig.
Kevyn Orr testified Friday during a trial to determine whether the city is eligible to fix its finances in federal bankruptcy court. He was appointed the city’s emergency manager in March and decided in July to make Detroit the largest municipality to file for Chapter 9.
Orr — a bankruptcy expert who represented automaker Chrysler LLC during its successful restructuring — says the city is saddled with $18 billion in long-term debt.
Orr testified he met with state officials in February, but didn’t talk about bankruptcy. He also said the city was in financial crisis since at least 2009.
Orr and Police Chief James Craig both testified Friday about the city’s high crime, blight and the deplorable conditions of police equipment and facilities.
Craig , who’s been on the job in the city since June, said that average police response times were close to 50 minutes for an emergency when he took over this summer. In addition, he testified one full-time officer’s job was to wash and wax the former chief’s car.
“Chief Craig gave shocking testimony … calling the police department deplorable,” said WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton. “High crime, low morale — and all because Detroit broke.”
“And if Detroit can’t provide basic services, like police, that is a sure sign that Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy,” Langton said.
Earlier in the day, investment banker Ken Buckfire, who is helping the city through the bankruptcy process, said talks broke down between city and Detroit Institute of Arts officials about finding common ground over ownership and the possible sale of some artwork.
He and others sought to explain that the city owned some of the museum’s art and the building. They also wanted to reach a deal to “create value” for the financially troubled city.
Orr will return to the stand Monday morning. Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to testify Monday afternoon.
A decision on the bankruptcy eligibility question is not expected until later next week.
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