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'We have to move forward,' says Detroit EM Kevyn Orr

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Kevyn Orr Kevyn Orr
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Kevyn Orr's job is restructuring the City of Detroit and leading it through bankruptcy. In just five months, he has moved forward on plans to remove blight, improve lighting and get new police cars on Detroit's roads and modern gear for firefighters.

Still, there are plenty who oppose his appointment and presence in Detroit. Now there is an online petition asking him to step down following controversial comments he made to The Wall Street Journal, comments for which he has since apologized.

"Whether it's me or a guy named John Smith, they'd probably hate that person, too. Look around your city. Is this the way you want your city to run and you want your city to be? Or do you truly believe there's an opportunity for it to rise from the ashes?" Orr said.

Rising from the ashes will be far from easy. Orr's team is structuring the plan they will submit as part of Detroit's bankruptcy. Monday, they will meet with unions to talk about pensions and come to an agreement on how much they are under funded. It is a hot topic that has left thousands with a lot of questions and anger.

"What do I say to those other 700,000 residents who aren't getting the services that they need and deserve if I don't address this pension issue, which is a huge part of our issues," the emergency manager said.

"Let's say there's somebody who is getting a pension right now. You're at 70 years old. You get a set amount every month. Will that amount change for that person?" I asked Orr.

"It might. It depends. If you're police and fire, maybe not as much as maybe for general services," he answered.

Orr's team is also working with the suburbs to turn the operations of Detroit Water and Sewerage over to a regional authority, a move that would give the suburbs more say and bring at least $50 million into the City of Detroit every year.

Those are just a few of the moves Orr knows are unpopular to some, but he believes are important to the city's future.

"Do we stay where we were in 1980, 1990? No, the world moves forward. These are modern concepts, and we have to move forward because that's progress," he said.

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