DETROIT (AP) — Detroit's new emergency manager offered a "sincere olive branch" Monday to local leaders who fought against creating his job, even as a crowd of protesters rallied outside City Hall during his first day trying to revive the city's beleaguered finances.
Kevyn Orr, a bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist who represented automaker Chrysler LLC during its successful restructuring, met with Mayor Dave Bing and at least two City Council members Monday as he began an 18-month term as emergency manager. Detroit is the nation's largest city ever put under state control.
"I want to offer a sincere olive branch and an opportunity for us to work together," Orr said Monday morning during a brief impromptu news conference with Bing.
Outside City Hall about 150 protesters argued that Orr's presence takes away residents' voting rights.
"Anybody who believes the right to vote is sacred, ought to stand with us," the Rev. Alexander Bullock told the growing crowd. "This is about a (governor's) administration trying to destroy democracy. While we fight for democracy on foreign soil we are being shackled at home."
Some on the council also have fiercely opposed an emergency manager coming to Detroit, despite the city's $327 million budget deficit and more than $14 billion in long-term debt. By late Monday morning, Orr had met privately in his new office on the 11th floor of City Hall with Councilman James Tate and Council President Charles Pugh.
Orr's spokesman, Bill Nowling, declined to reveal specifics from those conversations but called them "generally positive."
"He wants to make the initial overture that this is a problem that we need everybody in the city working on," Nowling said.