Kevyn Orr

  • What About Atlantic City?

    Strong state oversight is helping the New Jersey gambling town stay out of bankruptcy court despite a 64 percent loss of its tax base and declining gaming revenues, write the authors of a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr had been consulting for the appointed emergency management team there, and the restructuring efforts have so far kept the East Coast city from a Chapter 9 filing since Gov. Chris Christie named an emergency manager in January.

    The Pew report is titled “Atlantic City’s Watchdogs: How strong state oversight helps municipalities avoid bankruptcy,” and details the current financial situation in Atlantic City as well as the history of New Jersey’s state oversight and intervention in local finance.

    Among Atlantic City’s financial issues: Gambling revenues cut in half in the last eight years. Property values declining. A third of its casinos shutting down. “Unsustainable bond issuances” funding pension payments. “Imminent danger of running out of cash.”

    Here’s a comparison on Detroit and Atlantic City, compiled by in January:

    Detroit Atlantic City, New Jersey
    Population (2010 U.S. Census) 714,000 39,500
    Median Household Income $26,300 $29,200
    Current Annual City Budget $1 billion $258 million
    Approximate No. of City Employees 9,400 1,100
    Monthly City Revenue from Casinos $16 million $18 million
    Financial Situation at the time of Emergency Manager Appointment $327 million budget deficit in FY 2012. Decades of population decline.  $35 million budget shortfall. Loss of 8,000 casino jobs




  • Orr Opines: Former EM urges finalization of water deal

    Writing in The Detroit News, Detroit’s former emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is heralding the mediation process used in the bankruptcy case to settle debts with creditors. Sunday is the deadline for a lease agreement as part of the new Great Lakes Water Authority, but as of now, leaders of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties have not reached a contract with the city. Read what Orr had to say about mediation in urging that deal to get done.

  • Bankruptcy’s Big Three: Two judges and a (former) emergency manager walk into a lunch…

    Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen appeared together to receive awards from Goodwill Industries. The nonprofit agency also honored the 12 foundations that chipped in for the grand bargain. As the men were honored at the lunchtime event, held  at the Detroit Athletic Club, they made brief remarks. Here are the highlights:

    Photo by Michael Ference

    Photo by Michael Ference

    Orr drew a standing ovation as he took the podium.

    “The 21 months that it took us to get through the emergency manager’s term was at times both tumultuous, exulting and, finally, exceptionally rewarding. As I look through the room I see the real, shall we say, heroes of Detroit. It was the people of Detroit that soldiered through a tumultuous and somewhat destabilizing time as we went through the bankruptcy to the end,” Orr said.

    Rhodes recognized the team effort involved in the complicated case.

    The now-retired judge said he was accepting Goodwill’s award not only for himself, but for all the professionals who acted as a team to move the case, “in 17 months, from its chaotic beginning to its successful conclusion.” He said the smartest thing he did was appoint Rosen as chief mediator, who now “deserves the mass majority of credit for the ultimate success of the case.” After quipping about the moments of tension that they shared during the trial, Rhodes thanked Orr for handling the political and personal challenges of the Grand Bargain with “grace, competence and success.” “As I go around the country and speak about Detroit, people are enthusiastic about its future and rooting for the city,” said Rhodes.

    RosenRosen called the event “old home week” for the bankruptcy.

    He said unlike most stories, which require heroes and villains, the bankruptcy case only has heroes and heroines. Calling it “one of the most remarkable experiences” of his career, Rosen also said the bankruptcy case was like the “big bang theory” in that it “brought together unrelated people and events colliding to form a great universe that brought new hope to a great city and its people.”

  • Returning to Jones Day: Orr to head back to his previous firm, leave Atlantic City

    Just as many Detroit bankruptcy watchers predicted, former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr says he will head back to the Jones Day law firm in Washington D.C. The University of Michigan law grad spent more than a decade at the firm, working on bankruptcy cases, before Gov. Rick Snyder named him Detroit’s emergency manager in March 2013.

    Orr, who lives in the Washington area, spoke at the Lansing Chamber Luncheon.

    The Detroit Free Press’s Nathan Bomey wrote:

    Orr, who resigned as emergency manager on the day Detroit exited bankruptcy in December, said he considered a variety of opportunities. “I’ve met with a number of great folks, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to entertain a number of offers, but I think I’m gonna go back into law at least for some period of time,” he said. Asked what he would be doing at Jones Day, he said: “Restructuring, strategic counsel, crisis management. It’s what I’ve done for the past 30-plus years.”

    Orr currently is working as a consultant to the emergency manager for Atlantic City, N.J., but The Press of Atlantic City reports he will step down from there by the end of this month..

    Here’s what Jones Day said in a news release about Orr’s return.



    By in From Lansing, Kevyn Orr
  • Atlantic City’s EM Report: Recommends cuts and layoffs, not Chapter 9

    Like Detroit, the casino town on the Jersey Shore faces declining revenues, retiree obligations and other expenses it can’t pay for. Gov. Chris Christie appointed an emergency manager earlier this year, and former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is advising. The duo released a report Tuesday (see below), calling for layoffs and cuts but not a bankruptcy filing. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer’s story, which begins:

    Warning of a liquidity crisis through 2015 and a revenue decline “a lot more severe” than they had anticipated, Atlantic City’s emergency managers on Tuesday recommended $10 million in budget cuts, hundreds of layoffs, and mediators to negotiate with casinos and unions. The 60-day interim report by Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr, appointed by Gov. Christie, highlighted a $101 million budget shortfall for the city and a $47 million shortfall for the school district, but was short on details of how the city’s long-term financial woes can be solved.

    The Wall Street Journal wrote in this piece:

    Releasing a much-awaited report on the city’s future, the emergency managers laid out about $130 million in proposed cuts to close the shortfall. They anticipated further challenges for the struggling gambling resort, saying Atlantic City “simply cannot stand on its own” and probably would need significant state help for the foreseeable future.

    And the local newspaper, The Record,  weighed in with this:

    Hundreds of Atlantic City’s full-time workers could be laid off to close a multi-million dollar budget gap and address a fiscal crisis that is “a lot more severe than we thought,” a financial expert hired by Governor Christie said Tuesday.

    As a finale, we bring you’s “5 Charts That Show Just How Screwed Atlantic City Is.”

    City of Atlantic City 60-Day Report of the Emergency Manager

  • Catching Up: Some Detroit bankruptcy tidbits of the last week

    The “grand bargain” doodle will be on display on the DIA. The feds report on poor management of grants in Detroit. Jones Day opens a permanent office in Detroit. Here’s catching up on some Detroit bankruptcy tidbits.

    Chief Judge becomes “honorary artist” at DIA

    Gerald Rosen, considered the architect of the “grand bargain” can add “artwork on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts” to his resume.

    Photo by Kaitlin Fazio

    Photo by Kaitlin Fazio

    The museum will enshrine the famous doodle Rosen drew up on the back of a legal pad which laid the groundwork for the grand bargain. As part of the overall bankruptcy settlement, the grand bargain secured funding for the DIA from foundations, corporations, individual donors, the state of Michigan and DIA fundraisers to prevent the sale of the museum’s city-owned collection and protect it from sale to pay off creditors. Rosen is set to be the guest of honor at a private event on April 10, honoring his efforts in preserving the museum.

    Museum board director Gene Gargario has said that the doodle will hang “somewhere in its offices,” according to an interview with the Detroit Free Press.

    Feds looking for Detroit funds

    A recent study released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office shows that inefficiencies in Detroit’s bureaucracy led to a mismanagement of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. Through a combination of inconsistent internal policies, outdated technology and bookkeeping systems, and layoffs during the fiscal crisis, deficiencies in handling government aid through eight federal grant programs put significant strain on the city’s finances even before the bankruptcy hit.

    The report, instituted by U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) and Senator Gary Peters (D), was launched to assess how federal aid is handled during fiscal crises. The report not only looked at Detroit but also at Flint, Michigan; Stockton, California; and Camden, New Jersey and found that the limited capacity of the cities in question severely restricted their ability to manage federal funds properly.

    Moving In

    Jones Day, the law firm that represented Detroit during its bankruptcy case, is set to open a permanent office in the city some time in July. The Detroit office will be the firm’s 17th office in the U.S. And 42nd in the world. Timothy Melton, a 1987 graduate of Wayne State University Law School, will be partner-in-charge of the office and is set to employ half a dozen lawyers plus support staff. According to Jones Day, the Detroit office will be connected to the firm’s network of 2,400 lawyers across 19 countries to act as a single worldwide firm, the firm said.

    By in DIA, Kevyn Orr, Neighborhoods
  • Orr: “The sky’s the limit” for Detroit post-bankruptcy

    Former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was back in town Tuesday for an “exit interview” before the Detroit Economic Club. Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports that Orr reiterated that municipal bankruptcy was the only real option for Detroit, but insisted both he and the city got through the process relatively unscathed. Michigan Radio is a Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner.

  • On WDET: What’s beyond bankruptcy … so far

  • Why Atlantic City is in financial emergency

    Gambling revenues cut in half in the last eight years. Property values declining. A third of its casinos shutting down. “Unsustainable bond issuances” funding pension payments. “Imminent danger of running out of cash.”

    That’s what former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will face as a special consultant to Atlantic City’s newly named emergency manager, according to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s executive order. Here’s the full document:



  • Orr to Atlantic City? Yes, as an advisor

    6:15  p.m.

    Plenty of proverbial ink is being spilled reporting that Atlantic City is under emergency management — and former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will act as a special consultant to the EM in the New Jersey city.

    Here are some of the media reports about the news:

    The Press of Atlantic City “Gov. Christie names emergency manager for Atlantic City”

    Gov. Chris Christie appointed an emergency manager to oversee Atlantic City’s government and shaky finances, an extraordinary state takeover that critics called an abuse of power that could marginalize local elected officials. “What you need to know about Christie’s Atlantic City plan”

    With Atlantic City’s finances in dire straights, Gov. Chris Christie todayannounced the hiring of an emergency manager and a consultant who helped guide Detroit out of bankruptcy to draft a road map for putting the once-thriving gambling destination back on firm footing.

    The Detroit Free Press

    Detroit’s recently departed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, will act as a part-time legal adviser to financially troubled gambling mecca Atlantic City, N.J., that state’s governor said today.

    The Detroit News

    Former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is not becoming the new boss of Atlantic City, New Jersey, but he will be an adviser to an emergency management team Gov. Chris Christie appointed Thursday.

    5:45 p.m.

    Here’s what Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian had to say about Gov. Chris Christie’s appointment of an emergency manager and Kevyn Orr as “special consultant.”

    Guardian“After expecting the worse, and hearing rumors of measures that were possibly being discussed about stripping the Mayor and City Council of executive and legislative powers, I was finally able to meet the emergency manager Kevin Levan and counsel Kevyn Orr today at the Governor’s Summit for the first time and found them to be very professional and deferential to us. They made it clear that they recognized myself and City Council as the locally elected representatives of the people of Atlantic City and that they wanted to work together with us in the spirit of cooperation. Although no time table was given, they communicated to us that they wanted to get in, help us fix the City’s finances and get out. From my perspective, Governor Christie has given us more tools to help bring Atlantic City out of its financial distress and restore its long term viability.”

    4 p.m.

    Here are a few side-by-side comparisons of Detroit and Atlantic City, related to each city’s financial situation and emergency management.


    Detroit Atlantic City, New Jersey
    Population (2010 U.S. Census) 714,000 39,500
    Median Household Income $26,300 $29,200
    Current Annual City Budget $1 billion $258 million
    Approximate No. of City Employees 9,400 1,100
    Monthly City Revenue from Casinos $16 million $18 million
    Financial Situation at the time of Emergency Manager Appointment $327 million budget deficit in FY 2012. Decades of population decline.  $35 million budget shortfall. Loss of 8,000 casino jobs

    1:15 p.m.

    Gov. Chris Christie issued a statement about “Taking Action to Solidify Atlantic City’s Finances.” In it, he named Kevyn Orr as the “Special Consultant to Atlantic City’s Emergency Manager.”

    Here’s part of the release from Christie’s office:

    As part of his commitment to bringing long-term stability of Atlantic City, Governor Christie believes that expert and objective leadership is needed to restructure the operations, finances and culture of its government. Today the Governor signed Executive Order 171 which appoints an Emergency Manager and Special Consultant to develop and oversee a comprehensive overhaul of Atlantic City’s government.

    12:30 p.m.

    An executive order from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie names an emergency manager for Atlantic City, but it’s not Kevyn Orr, The Detroit News reports. 

    The former Detroit EM will serve as special counsel to Kevin Lavin, who will be the city’s emergency manager.

    “He’s just an adviser to the team,” Orr’s Detroit spokesman, Bill Nowling, tells 

    Here is the link to Gov. Christie’s executive orders.


    Conflicting reports have emerged about whether former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has a new job.

    First, New Jersey media reported yesterday Orr would head to Atlantic City to oversee the struggling city’s operations. But Orr’s Detroit-based spokesman, Bill Nowling,told The Detroit News the reports weren’t quite accurate.

    Then today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office distributed as a media advisory an article from the Wall Street Journal that reported:

    …Christie is bringing in an emergency manager to take over the day-to-day operations and troubled finances of Atlantic City, an unprecedented extension of state control over a New Jersey municipality.

    The Republican governor is expected to announce Thursday that he is hiring Kevn Lavin, a corporate-finance and business-restructuring lawyer…Mr. Christie is also tapping Kevyn Orr – who guided Detroit through its bankruptcy proceedings as its emergency manager – as a part-time consultant in the effort in Atlantic City.

    The WSJ reports an unnamed source said the duo will begin work “immediately.”

    Gov. Christie’s press office tells that he will discuss the emergency management team later today at the “Atlantic City Summit.” The meeting is the third in a series attended by casino executives, local, state and union officials who are discussing how to stem a budget shortfall and revenue declines in the 39,500-resident seaside resort town.

    At the second summit, held in November, Christie proposed an emergency manager to oversee spending and hiring. Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos shut down in 2014, and another three are in bankruptcy.



    By in Feature, Kevyn Orr