DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr were the headliners of a public forum in New York City Monday, speaking on the topic of Detroit’s financial future.
Guests of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, at one point the Governor was asked to justify how spending millions on a new hockey arena for the Red Wings can be considered an “engine” for economic development in Detroit?
“Detroit is very large in geography, basically think of Woodward Avenue … one long avenue, where you have downtown at one end that ends at the river and then there is Midtown and they are both doing really well but there is this kind of area in the middle that’s not a good area, this hockey arena, the arena we are talking, about goes right in the center of that. I see tremendous value in that particular project because of its location and opportunity.”
The Manhattan Institute’s interest in Detroit is based on whether the cities ongoing bankruptcy can be a model for communities in crisis.
Orr was asked about bondholders: “I’m getting pennies on a dollar, and I look at public employees’ unions and they are getting seventy percent … are they going to penalize in the future?
“Once you get done with the restructuring – people do their underwriting based upon one color and that color is green,” said Orr.
Orr went on to talk about the immediate challenges facing the city, “Seventy-eight thousand of our three hundred and twenty thousand units are blighted; sixty percent of our residents rely on public transportation to get to and from work. So this whole process is to provide for adequate city services and a sustainable future going forward.”
The Governor said if he hadn’t authorized Detroit’s bankruptcy petition, the city would have continued moving “downhill”.
Synder went on to talk about the role immigration reform could play in Detroit’s recovery. “Give us fifty-thousand visas over five years and have the people agree to live and work in Detroit for five years. They’ll on average create two point five positions for every position they fill. I hope the President can do this by executive order cause I’m ready to go,” said Snyder.
Meanwhile, in Detroit a state board involved in Detroit’s financial reorganization has scheduled a meeting Tuesday to consider city leaders’ proposal for a $120 million loan.
The announcement of the Lansing meeting Monday didn’t detail the proposal, but the Detroit Free Press reports Detroit’s been in talks with Barclays LLC to borrow $120 million to speed the restructuring.
State-appointed emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr is leading the city of 700,000 through a federal bankruptcy reorganization as a way to pare down its $18 billion debt.
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