Detroit calls in administrator to put it on the road to recovery
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Friday 15 March 2013
Kevyn Orr helped organise the successful restructuring of Chrysler, when the venerable car maker was considered all but dead. Now the top bankruptcy lawyer has an even tougher task: to lead Detroit – the city that rose and fell with America’s car industry – back from the brink of ruin.
Mr Orr’s appointment as Detroit’s emergency manager, supplanting the mayor and other elected officials, comes after decades during which a city that 50 years ago was America’s fifth-largest has turned into a monument of depopulation and decay.
“This is the Olympics of restructuring,” he told a news conference a fortnight before he formally embarks on his new job, that gives him powers to slash spending, alter public employee contracts, sell off city assets and privatise services.
The move by Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder represents perhaps the last chance to stave off bankruptcy in overwhelmingly black and Democratic Detroit, which has a budget deficit of $327m (£216m), and accumulated debt of over $14bn.
Since 1960, the city’s population has shrunk from nearly 1.7 million to barely 700,000, amid the long decline of the industry that earned it the moniker “Motown”. Vast swathes of former residential areas have been abandoned, crime is rampant, and some basic urban services are so underfunded they barely operate.
Now Mr Orr, a Michigan native, has perhaps 18 months to put Detroit on a road to recovery. Although cities and towns in various US states have been placed under emergency financial supervision in the past, none has been as large as Detroit, or beset by problems that are as deep-rooted.
The task, he admitted, would be “very challenging”. But Mr Orr pointed to the renaissance of the US car industry since the controversial bailout of GM and Chrysler in 2009. “We can rise from the ashes,” he vowed.
“This is a beautiful city and a wonderful state that gave me my start.”
The arrival of Mr Orr caps years of controversy, corruption and scandal in Detroit City Hall, culminating in the conviction and imprisonment of the former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Earlier this week Mr Kilpatrick was convicted on separate corruption charges that, according to federal prosecutors, showed a “pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud” by some leading municipal officials.
Contrary to some fears, news that an outsider will take charge does not appear to have generated tensions. The mood instead has been of resignation to the inevitable. “I don’t think people care at this point who the mayor is or who the city council is,” Mayor Dave Bing said. “They want things fixed.”
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 4 Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
Sally Farmiloe dead: Howards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, dies aged 60
Women in Turkey have a laugh in public at the deputy Prime Minister's expense
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
Australian model Robyn Lawley stages naked protest against huge coal mine seven times the size of Sydney Harbour
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...
£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...