But just over a year after taking on what is now the biggest
municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, the experienced bankruptcy
attorney says any notions he had of running for public office have
"This has erased any political aspirations, dead or barely alive,
that I ever had, and I was a political science major," Orr said.
"This has done me in."
When Orr began his career in the 1980s as a trial attorney in the
rough-and-tumble world of Florida's Miami-Dade County, he thought he
might one day run for public office, he told Reuters in an interview
To be sure, Orr, 55, has not voiced interest in any particular
public office. But with a decade of federal government service to
his credit and now running a major American city, he could be an
appealing candidate for either party.
"You have to be willing to stand there and deal with some of the
irrational behavior, just slings and arrows for no reason, and be
willing to keep true north and keep doing it," he said, fielding
questions with an eye on two cell phones in front of him — one for
his wife, and one for everyone else.
Orr, who is black, was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, a
Republican, in March 2013 to devise a rescue plan for the city,
which has suffered a rapid outflow of population and has about $18
billion of debt and liabilities. He filed the city's bankruptcy case
Though unelected, he holds enormous sway over the city's future. His
plan, which is still being negotiated with creditors and must
ultimately win a judge's approval, proposes significant losses for
creditors, ranging from pension funds to bondholders.
Orr told Reuters he was unlikely to take on other major Chapter 9
municipal bankruptcy cases in future.
"You probably won't see me in this kind of gig again," the
restructuring expert said. "I think I've had my fill."
[to top of second column]
He's fought tough battles before. He was counsel at the Resolution
Trust Corp, the federal agency set up to mop up the savings and loan
crisis of the 1980s and early '90s.
He was chief counsel to the RTC during the Whitewater investigation,
a high-profile probe into the collapse of a thrift with connections
to former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton.
Later, as a private-practice attorney for the law firm Jones Day,
Orr represented automaker Chrysler during its bankruptcy, which he
described as "politically explosive."
But the Detroit case has also focused him on what he feels are his
"I really enjoy the financial aspects and restructuring and
strategy," he said.
Still, his time in Detroit is beginning to run out, with less than
six months left in his current job. After that he has just one plan:
A "long vacation on a warm island" with his wife.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; editing by Dan Burns)
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