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Tim Skubick: Gov. Snyder, EM Orr two peas in a pod

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - You can easily see why Gov. Rick Snyder picked Kevyn Orr to run the City of Detroit.  They are two peas in a pod.

They are sticklers for details.  They are smart.  And they know how to dodge the media when it gets too nosey about their position on this or that.

You could see it unfold last week as the Detroit Emergency Manager moved from the bankruptcy arena, where he adroitly swims with sharks,  into the legislative arena where the sharks know more about the water than he does.

Yet he was not intimidated and when it came to the tough issues, he borrowed the governor's dancing shoes and went out on the floor with the scribes.

Question:  What did Mr. Orr think about Speaker Jase Bolger's suggestion that labor unions in Detroit cough-up some hard cash in return for the state kicking in about $200 million for retirees in the financially battered city?

Answer:  He didn't have one.  "I'm going to step away from that," he began his two-step routine.  "I'm agnostic," on it and it's "not in my bailiwick."

Well that took care of that.  Never mind that the Bolger stuff is explosive and could derail the whole deal to help pensioners and the city.  In fact Rep. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit) said so.  He thought the GOP Speaker should back off, but added, "I doubt that he will" and when asked if the union demand could blow up the so-called Grand Bargain, he uttered, "Yes he could."

Asked if he would take responsibility for blowing up the deal, Mr. Bolger dodged,  saying he was doing what was right for the state.

Next Mr. Orr was asked to address a major concern that Republicans were lecturing him about.  If they are going to vote yes on what the opponents call a "bailout for Detroit" what guarantees could he give them that the city would not be back, with hand out again, asking for more money down the road?

Sen. Jim Marleau (R-Oakland County) says he can't sell this to his constituents, some of whom are very anti-Motown, unless he has that guarantee and without it, "I'm not there."

So what about the guarantee Mr. Orr?

He doesn't like that word and would not use it.  To guarantee anything at this juncture is just plain foolish and Mr. Orr is anything but. However he did explain there were some safeguards in the package that would include state oversight of the city once it exits Chapter 9, assuming it does.

After a two day conversation with many Lansing players, Mr. Orr must have concluded that the votes are not there to pass the state's contribution to this whole deal.   And if he didn't get that, he needs a quick refresher course in nose counting.  He says,"I'm not counting. I'm just trying to do my job."  Nice bob and weave.

Some Democrats are worried about that state oversight role.  House Democratic leader Rep. Tim Greimel is O.K. with it but he wants it to be short in duration.  But Sen. Virgil Smith says that element is a "no-go" for him.

Hence this pointed question to Mr. Orr:  What happens if lawmakers say no?

Now he is the mirror image of the governor, only when the governor doesn't like questions such as that, he often says, "That's a hypothetical" and then he waltzes away.

Mr. Orr with his trusty Thesaurus in hand deflects the question saying, "That would be speculative."  Same difference.

Well it certainly wouldn't be good? He was pressed.

Rather than confirm the obvious fact that it is a huge problem, he stayed positive, just like the governor, saying, "We need everyone in the Grand Bargain."

The only thing missing was Relentless Positive Action.  But give him time. He'll get there eventually.

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