Cockrel said that constituents were not calling his office to express support or criticism for the bankruptcy but were seeking practical advice.
“ ‘Okay, what does this mean?’ Those are the calls that I’m getting,” Cockrel said. “ ‘What does it mean for city services?’ ‘What does it mean for my pension?’ A lot of those questions at this point are frankly unanswered questions.”
In March, as Detroit faced an estimated debt of $19 billion, Michigan named Orr as emergency manager, vested with extraordinary powers to rewrite contracts and liquidate some of the city’s most valuable assets. That led to once-unthinkable proposals, such as forcing public employees to cut their retirement benefits or demanding that investors in municipal bonds — long considered among the safest investments — take pennies on the dollars they lent to Detroit.
Some experts say that Orr offered so little, as little as 10 cents on the dollar, that some of the creditors figured they could do no worse in bankruptcy court.
“We are trying very hard to be fair,” Orr said Friday.
The bankruptcy filing on Thursday begins a one- to three-month process to determine whether the city is eligible for Chapter 9 protection and who might compete for the limited settlement money Detroit has to offer. But it could be years before the city emerges from bankruptcy.
On Friday, the credit agency Moody’s Investors Service said the bankruptcy filing, and the disputes over who would be asked to make sacrifices, augured a period of uncertainty for bondholders.
“While not unexpected, the filing opens the door to what will likely be an unprecedented litigation scenario,” the agency said. “Before issues like bondholder recovery levels and what level of services city residents will experience become clear, the bankruptcy is likely to be a complicated and protracted process.”
David Fahrenthold contributed to this report.