MACKINAC ISLAND (WJRT) -
(05/30/14) - On the final day of the Mackinac Policy Conference, the focus was on the city of Detroit - and its bankruptcy.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took the stage on a keynote address. He said fixing Detroit starts at the top.
"Indeed the spirit of Detroit is unbreakable, just like the iron fords in its furnaces and factories. Bankruptcy is not the end, it's not even the beginning of the end," Landrieu said.
One of the biggest issues at the Policy Conference how to lead the city of Detroit out of bankruptcy and return it to a world class city.
As the city waits for word on nearly $200 million in help from the government, Landrieu spoke to a packed room about urban revitalization. He says the problems of Detroit are very similar to the ones in New Orleans.
Landrieu say Detroit has to be fixed first in the government, and that every part needs to be analyzed. While it might be painful, they are necessary.
Landrieu says that needs to stop, and that everyone - lawmakers, residents, and suburbanites - need to take an active role in helping rebuild Detroit, and the same should be done in Mid-Michigan cities like Flint.
"I think that Flint and the other cities in Michigan as well, that are in similar situations - that are not as dire, will be able to learn from the experiences that Detroit and New Orleans have gone through. They are all important partners as well," he said.
Detroit's Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr, also took the stage.
Orr focused on three key areas in his speech - where Detroit has been, where it's been, and where it's going.
The Emergency Manager was probably the most anticipated keynote address over the past three days at the conference. All eyes have been on the city of Detroit as it navigates its bankruptcy under Orr.
The EM says that progress is being made on the city's finances, but there is still a long way to go. He's worried city workers and retirees considering a plan to prevent pension cuts will make a protest vote, and that senators who are voting on $195 million for the city are getting misinformation from creditors that the city's art isn't being sold.
But he says he's moving forward, and barring any legal tie ups - he's hoping to be done before the EM law has him out by September.
Orr told reporters after that he's optimistic that he can tackle the city's bankruptcy, and after this week, he knows he has a lot of support.
"We also heard is a lot of understanding and sensitivity in how we are trying to restructure, and how can I support it. That what I said while speaking to them today - I'm going to need your help and the mayor is going to need your help. We're all in on this thing, and what I've been saying is forward together and we can get anything done. And a lot of people have come back and said we're all in on this thing," he said.