robert ficano

Outgoing Wayne County executive Robert Ficano
Wayne County / YouTube

Tuesday’s primary election marked the beginning of the end of the scandal-ridden administration of Robert Ficano, Executive of Wayne County.

He placed fifth in the Democratic primary, so former sheriff Warren Evans will likely win the office this November in that Democratic stronghold. But Ficano leaves behind a huge challenge for his successor.

Daniel Howes, business columnist for The Detroit News, joined us today. Howes said Robert Ficano has left Wayne County in a financially poor shape.

“The pension fund is in some way more underfunded than some of the Detroit pension funds. Budgets are out of whack. A lot of white elephant projects. It’s going to be very hard for a successor to unwind, particularly a successor who has basically been a part of the Wayne County and Detroit political law enforcement machine for a very long time, ” Howes said.

* Listen to the full interview with Daniel Howes above.

Westland sometimes is in national trivia contests because it was the first city ever named after a shopping mall.

Bill Wild, Westland’s mayor for the last seven years, has been much less well-known. Perhaps until recently, that is; he is now waging a serious campaign to be elected Wayne County executive. That is, to win the Democratic primary August 5, which essentially guarantees victory in the November election.

Wild may still have more money and less name recognition than his four major rivals. But he is running second in some polls, and has one powerful argument.

“I’m the only candidate who actually has executive experience, who has run both a business and a government,” he told me a couple days ago, when I went to see him at his campaign headquarters on the east side of Detroit. 

That is somewhat true.

Embattled Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano will formally announce he’s seeking a fourth term Monday.

Ficano’s current term has been plagued by scandal.

His administration is the subject of an ongoing FBI public corruption investigation, and several former members of his inner circle have been convicted of various crimes.

Outgoing Wayne County executive Robert Ficano
Wayne County / YouTube

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman has dismissed a lawsuit against Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. The case was filed by former Wayne County employee James Wallace, who claimed Ficano fired him for refusing to do political work on county time.

Wallace is a graphic designer who worked for Ficano for 13 years. He claimed he was fired for refusing to design campaign materials for Ficano. The Wayne County lawyers maintain Wallace's firing was strictly a budgetary decision.

Deborah Gordon, Wallace's lawyer, says she was shocked by the ruling.

  Everybody knows that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was thoroughly corrupt. He currently is sitting in jail waiting sentencing in federal court on his latest round of convictions.

His political career is dead and his chance at being free is over, at least for years to come. But you can easily make the argument that, at least in terms of cost to the taxpayers, the administration of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is worse.

Certainly Ficano has wasted far more of the taxpayers’ money than Kilpatrick’s grubby crimes cost Detroit. One of the enduring mysteries of state politics is why this man is still in his job. Michigan’s largest county has lurched from scandal to scandal.

There was the case of Turkia Awada Mullin, the crony who somehow was vaulted over far more qualified applicants, made head of the airport authority and given a two hundred thousand dollar “severance” to go from one job to another.

Wayne County

 Governor Snyder has suddenly jumped into the middle of Wayne County’s jail mess.

The county has a half-built jail sitting on the outskirts of downtown Detroit. It halted construction on the project in June because it was massively over-budget.

But now Snyder is urging the county to scrap the jail, sell the land, and lease space from the half-empty former Mound Road state prison in northeast Detroit. He’s offering it for just $1 a year.

Wayne County / via Wayne County

Wayne County will stop building a $300 million jail complex while it tries to figure out how the project got so over-budget.

The new jail was supposed to save Wayne County money by consolidating several facilities into one new, high-tech one.

The war of words between Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and County Executive Robert Ficano is intensifying.

Worthy held a press conference Wednesday to blast Ficano. She spoke in front of a televised slideshow with media clips detailing the Ficano administration’s ongoing corruption issues.

Detroit Economic Club

Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” met up for their annual public conversation at Cobo Hall in Detroit Thursday.

The group is made up of the Wayne county executive Robert Ficano, Oakland county executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Macomb county executive Mark Hackel, plus Detroit mayor Dave Bing.

The event usually stresses regional cooperation and all-around good feelings between the four leaders.

Robert Ficano
Robert Ficano / RobertFicano.com

Today, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that when Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano imposed 20 percent pay cuts on county workers, he was acting within his rights, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says department heads will have to implement deep cuts.

But department heads are rebelling, and one has already threatened to sue.

In a 2-year budget plan, Ficano says all county departments will have to absorb a 20% budget cut if the Wayne County is to avoid fiscal disaster.

He says property tax revenues have plummeted, and the county faces a $155 million dollar accumulated deficit.

Associated Press

Before giving Wayne County the go-ahead on an unorthodox deficit reduction plan, the state wants peruse the county's books.

According to John Wisely at the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon is taking bids from accounting firms to perform the audit. Auditors would look at discrepancies in spending and budgeting along with the timing of certain transactions.

Officials in Lansing are on the lookout for anything fishy because the plan would involve state money.

More from the Freep:

Last month, the county proposed eliminating its deficit by sending unused state grant money, for things like roads and mental health programs, back to the state. It wants the state to return a similar amount to the county unrestricted, meaning it could be used to eliminate the deficit instead of funding the programs spelled out in the legislation.

Wayne County has a cumulative deficit of $155 million and faces declining revenues in its latest budget cycle.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has been formally censured by the board elected to run the county with him. The censure vote comes in the wake of a federal probe into how county contracts are awarded.

The Wayne County Commission was widely criticized for pulling its punches when it approved a censure resolution last month that did not actually include Ficano's name.

The amended resolution does name Ficano. But it does not call for the executive's resignation, as Commissioner Laura Cox (R-Livonia) wanted. Cox was the lone "no" vote on the resolution.

Commissioner Joe Palamara (D-Grosse Ile) sponsored the censure resolution. He says the commission has no power to force Ficano to step down - so a resolution calling for his resignation would be pointless.

"It's akin to firing a starter's pistol at a track meet," said Palamara. "At the end of the day it makes a lot of noise, gets a lot of attention, but all it is is firing a blank."

Four people have been indicted on federal corruption charges related to Wayne County contracts. Ficano has denied any wrongdoing.

Outgoing Wayne County executive Robert Ficano
Wayne County / YouTube

DETROIT (AP) - Wayne County commissioners have censured executive Robert Ficano, whose office is under an FBI investigation and mired in allegations of corruption.

The commission approved the resolution Thursday on a 14-1 vote. Ficano is elected, and commissioners can't force him out.

Grosse Ile Democrat Joe Palamara sponsored the resolution and says "the power to elect and remove the county executive rests solely with the people."

Federal authorities began investigating county government last summer following reports of a $200,000 severance deal for a Ficano staffer.

Ex-Ficano aide David Edwards pleaded guilty last month to bribery charges involving $13,000 accepted from a private contractor.

Ficano has denied any wrongdoing.

Outgoing Wayne County executive Robert Ficano
Wayne County / YouTube

Wayne County Commissioners voted today to censure County Executive Robert Ficano, but the vote also exposed divisions within the Commission.

The resolution to “censure the Wayne County Chief Executive Officer” has no real teeth, and it doesn’t mention Ficano by name.

That last fact angered County Commissioner Laura Cox, who sponsored the initial censure resolution. She ended up voting against what she called the “watered down” measure.

Cox called that “pathetic.”

“The Commission has no power to censure, by state law. But I guess we also have no power to ask for somebody to resign, which is exactly what my resolution did. So they feel that that was too strong, obviously,” said Cox.

Cox wants the Commission to put a county charter revision on the ballot. It would ask voters to give Commissioners or other elected officials the authority to remove county officials under certain circumstances.

Commissioner Joseph Palamara said the resolution was appropriate, given the Commission’s limited powers.

“To say that, "you should leave right now," that would have no more authority than Donald Trump walking in here under public comment and saying, ‘Bob Ficano, you’re fired,’” said Palamara.

Ficano’s administration has been under an FBI investigation for months. Several former top aides have been indicted on corruption charges, but Ficano has always denied any personal wrongdoing, and waved off suggestions that he resign.

To badly paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, history will little note nor long remember Bob Dole’s presidential campaign sixteen years ago. Dole was the Republican nominee against President Bill Clinton that year.

This was before the sex scandals came to light, and Clinton breezed to reelection. Bob Dole, an authentic war hero with a hilariously caustic sense of humor, ran a bumbling race that didn’t reflect that he was actually a quite capable man. 

DETROIT (AP) — A former high-ranking Wayne County official has been indicted on corruption charges in an investigation of kickbacks tied to a health program.

Michael Grundy is accused of enriching himself by having a contractor inflate invoices and pass him the cash. Grundy was an assistant county executive and director of HealthChoice until he was fired last fall.

He's charged with conspiracy, fraud and extortion. His lawyer had no immediate comment Wednesday.

Grundy was placed on leave in October and then fired in November by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

(Robert Ficano/Wayne County)

Robert Ficano says he won’t let doubts about corruption in county government distract him from his job.

The Wayne County Executive delivered his tenth annual State of the County address Wednesday night.

Some years ago, there was a scandal involving fiscal improprieties at Michigan Public Media, which operates this radio station. When the then-director discovered the suspicious financial practices, he immediately told the University of Michigan about them.

Then, though he was in no way implicated in the wrongdoing, he resigned, saying the irregularities happened under his watch, and therefore he was ultimately responsible for them.

screen grab from WJBK Fox 2

Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox has publicly said that embattled County Executive Robert Ficano should resign.

Cox, the only Republican on the Wayne County Commission, has been one of Ficano’s most outspoken critics.

Ficano has been under fire for months after numerous revelations about huge severance payments to top aides, and other corruption accusations.

A top aide to Wayne County executive Robert Ficano is facing federal extortion and bribery charges

Tahir Kazmi is Wayne County’s Chief Information Officer.   He’s been in that job since 2008, though he is currently on leave.

Federal prosecutors charged Kazmi this week with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government.   Kazmi also allegedly demanded cash and expensive trips in return for county contracts.  

Kazmi and another Wayne County employee are charged with obstruction of justice as well. 

The Detroit Economic Club hosts a public forum with Metro Detroit’s so-called “Big Four” at the Detroit Auto Show each year.

And Tuesday’s session with the Detroit Mayor and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County executives proved a bit livelier than usual.

The Wayne County Commission’s Auditor General will look into some persistent questions about county contracts and payment practices.

Willie Mayo says the audit will dig into two primary issues. One is how the county’s payroll process works—and whether there are safeguards to prevent some county appointees from getting big payouts.

There’s a wonderful scene in Oliver Stone’s excellent movie Nixon, where the actors playing the president’s two heavies, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, are watching their boss publicly fire an aide as the Watergate scandal begins to unravel.

The cadaverous James Woods, who plays Bob Haldeman, turns to his sidekick. “And John, you do know we‘re next, right?” he says.

The board that runs Detroit Metro Airport meets Monday, and the group could decide to remove the airport’s embattled CEO, Turkia Mullin.

Mullin’s short tenure as CEO of Detroit Metro Airport has been tarnished by controversy.

Soon after taking the job, it was revealed she had accepted a $200,000 “severance” to voluntarily leave her old post as Wayne County’s economic development director. She’s returned most of the money.

The CEO of Metro Airport has returned some of the money she was paid to move from one Wayne County job to another.

Turkia Mullin got $200,000 to leave her post as Wayne County economic development director and take over the airport earlier this year.

She returned $135,900 this week, saying the rest went to taxes. Her secretary, who also received a severance payment, has also returned the money.

 DETROIT (AP) - Wayne County's former economic development director has returned money she received as part of a controversial severance deal that has led to an FBI probe.

County Executive Robert Ficano announced Thursday that the repayment has been made by Turkia Mullin.

The severance deal was for $200,000. Mullin received $135,900 after taxes last month after she left her old job to run Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

Ficano has fired a part-time employee and placed the county's corporation counsel and a deputy executive on 30-day suspension after an internal investigation into the severance deal. He earlier
defended Mullin's severance deal, but later said protocol was not followed.

Federal agents have since gotten involved, serving subpoenas this month seeking records.

County commissioners are meeting Thursday and looking into the payout to Mullin.

Waynecounty.com

Troubles are mounting for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. A federal investigation and a recall effort are now under way.

An outcry over a 200-thousand-dollar payout given to Wayne County’s former development director is being investigated by the FBI, which served subpoenas this week asking for information about Turkia Mullin’s severance pay.

On Thursday, Ficano ended severance payments for all political appointees.

But Wayne County Commissioner Bernard Parker said there are still unanswered questions about the commission’s responsibilities:

"Do we have anything to do with the contracts for personnel? The administration says no," Parker said. "We think we should. Should all contracts come to us to be approved?  Again, there’s a difference on that.”

Former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino is leading the effort to recall Ficano.

Convertino, an attorney from Plymouth, represents a man who filed a whistleblower suit against Wayne County.

A new FBI probe into Wayne County government may hamper the County Commissions’ effort to investigate the compensation of appointed employees.

The Commission’s Special Committee on appointee compensation met again Thursday. They expected to hear about an internal review by County Executive Robert Ficano’s office.

That review is looking into how former economic development director Turkia Awada Mullin got a $200,000 severance to leave that and become CEO of the Wayne County Airport Authority. She has since agreed to return the money.

The FBI is investigating a $200,000 severance deal given to former Wayne County development director Turkia Mullin.

Michigan Attorney General spokesman John Sellek confirmed Tuesday that the FBI is looking into the deal.

Sellek said Attorney General Bill Schuette "has full faith in the FBI to conduct a thorough investigation."

Mullin received the payout after leaving her old job to take over as chief executive of Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The county owns the airport in Romulus, 10 miles west of Detroit.

Her new job pays $250,000.

Wayne County faces a $160 million accumulated budget deficit.

Mullin originally said she would not return the money, but changed her mind following a call with County Executive Robert Ficano.

Ficano said last week that protocol was not followed in approving Mullin's severance.

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