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Jun 27, 2013

Detroit emergency manager steps up pace in city restructuring

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – Detroit’s emergency manager issued a flurry of announcements on Thursday addressing union contracts, power distribution and an errant council president as he steps up the pace of efforts to tackle the city’s massive $18.5 billion debt problem.

Kevyn Orr stripped City Council President Charles Pugh of his authority and pay, terminated two union contracts that were about to expire so as to allow room to renegotiate them and announced an agreement with power company DTE Energy Co. to take over power distribution to local institutions, including the public school system.

Jun 27, 2013

Detroit emergency manager terminates two union contracts

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – As part of ongoing efforts to fix Detroit’s fiscal crisis, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has terminated collective bargaining agreements with two of the more than 40 unions representing city workers, a spokesman said on Thursday.

But Orr also signaled a willingness to bargain with unions that could be seen as a peace offering for organized labor.

Jun 18, 2013

U.S. doctor group votes to recognize obesity as a disease

CHICAGO, June 18 (Reuters) – In order to fight what it
described as an “obesity epidemic,” the American Medical
Association voted on Tuesday to recognize obesity as a disease
and recommended a number of measures to fight it.

The association voted on the measure at its annual meeting
in Chicago. The AMA noted that obesity rates in the United
States have “doubled among adults in the last twenty years and
tripled among children in a single generation” and that the
World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
and Internal Revenue Service already recognize the condition as
a disease.

Jun 16, 2013

After opening gambit, Detroit manager’s next move vexes creditors

By Nick Carey and Tom Hals

(Reuters) – Now that Detroit’s emergency manager has laid out a tough road that could include a bankruptcy filing for the city, the bondholders, pension managers and others with a stake in the outcome are left to assess his next steps while seeking to minimize any possible losses.

Kevyn Orr faces a difficult task, for he must either coerce the financially troubled city’s creditors into cutting a deal that would leave many with just pennies on the dollar, or file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, where his powers would be greater but the likelihood of long, costly litigation far higher.

May 27, 2013

Detroit’s foundations spread money through broken city

DETROIT, May 27 (Reuters) – When Kevin Ward fulfilled his
dream by opening a rib joint in one of Detroit’s poorest and
most blighted areas, he could not afford extra meat. If the ribs
ran out, he closed for the day.

“We were doing real well considering, but inventory was a
problem,” said Ward, 40, who perfected his ribs while at college
in Alabama and opened Slabbee’s five months ago in Brightmoor.

May 15, 2013

Small conservative groups describe big burdens of IRS scrutiny

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – For Kevin Kookogey, the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of his one-man outfit providing conservative mentoring for students was so onerous he thought it was trying to deter him from political activity.

“It worked,” said the Tennessean who ran the group Linchpins of Liberty. “I completely shut down and do my mentoring without fundraising so I can avoid getting audited.”

May 13, 2013

Detroit emergency manager says city ‘clearly insolvent’

By Nick Carey and Steve Neavling

(Reuters) – Michigan’s biggest city is “clearly insolvent” and needs to restructure its debt and renegotiate its labor contracts to address its problems, Detroit’s emergency financial manager said on Monday.

Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr in a report issued online presented a sweeping review of Detroit’s problems, from gaping budget deficits to a crushing debt load to abandoned homes and broken streetlights.

May 12, 2013

As Detroit emergency manager readies fix-it plan, hard work ahead

DETROIT, May 12 (Reuters) – Six weeks into his work as
Detroit’s emergency manager, former bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr
has found the city’s finances in worse shape than expected, with
long-term debt at $15 billion, $2 billion worse than figures
disclosed before he took the job.

The city has set aside far less than expected for retiree
healthcare benefits, too. A report from Michigan State
University in March stated that Detroit has $4.9 billion of
unfunded benefit liabilities. But Orr’s review has found the
shortfall actually is $5.7 billion, 16 percent higher than
expected, according to Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling.

Apr 21, 2013

Texas blast highlights risks for volunteer firefighters

WEST, Texas/CHICAGO (Reuters) – When Cody Dragoo set out with his fellow volunteer firefighters to stop the fire raging at the West Fertilizer Co, he more than anyone knew the dangers that loomed, family and friends said.

A team leader for the all-volunteer firefighting force in West, the 50-year-old worked at the plant mixing combustible chemicals to make fertilizer for use on the fields of corn and other crops that surround the rural Texas town.

Mar 26, 2013

Wisconsin Gov. Walker writing book, could signal White House hopes

March 26 (Reuters) – Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott
Walker, is working on a book on the lessons he learned in his
2011 battle with the Midwest state’s labor unions and how
conservatives could apply them at a national level.

Observers said the book could be a signal that Walker, who
last year became the first U.S. governor to survive a recall
election, is contemplating a presidential bid.

    • About Nick

      "Nick Carey is a Chicago-based, British-born journalist who has covered everything from the near-collapse of the Big Three automakers to the U.S. housing crisis. Nick is currently on general assignment, reporting on the human impact of the recession. He previously spent ten years working in central and eastern Europe."
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