wayne county

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 Wayne County Airport Authority has fired Metro Airport CEO Turkia Mullin.

Mullin had a short, controversial tenure. It was marred almost from the get-go by the revelation that she got a $200,000 severance payout to voluntarily leave her prior post as Wayne County economic development director.

The Wayne County Airport Authority has fired Metro Airport CEO Turkia Mullin.

Mullin had a short, controversial tenure. It was marred almost from the get-go by the revelation that she got a $200,000 severance payout to voluntarily leave her prior post as Wayne County economic development director.

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.

The controversy over a lucrative payout to one of Wayne County’s top appointees does not look like it will end anytime soon. Wayne County Commissioners plan to question officials about the $200,000 severance this week.

"I’m not going to assume this is a frequent occurrence, but I am going to say that we’re going to ask all the right questions, and find out every single one that’s ever been done," said Commissioner Gary Woronchak.

Turkia Mullin was awarded the “severance” payment when she voluntarily left her county job to head the county airport authority.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced last week that he suspended two aides and fired a contract employee for the payout. He also apologized to county residents.

Yesterday, about two dozen activists reportedly protested outside the Wayne County offices, demanding a state investigation.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Two Wayne County appointees have been suspended over the $200,000 payout to a former economic development chief.

County Executive Bob Ficano says proper protocols were not followed when Turkia Mullin was awarded the “severance” payment when she voluntarily left her county job.

"I’m holding those who made errors in judgment accountable for their actions," Ficano said. "Mistakes have consequences."

Deputy Executive Azzam Elder and the county’s head lawyer, Marianne Talon, have been suspended without pay for 30 days. Tim Taylor, the county's former human resources director, was also sanctioned. Taylor is retired, but had a part-time contract with the county. That contract has been terminated.

Ficano says the county should never have paid a severance to an appointee who left voluntarily. That’s despite the fact that he initially defended the payment.

County officials say Turkia Mullin will return the money.

The revelation that Wayne County paid its former economic development chief a $200,000 “severance package” to take another, better-paying county job has raised a lot of eyebrows.

It’s also raised questions about whether the payment to now-Metro Airport CEO Turkia Awada Mullin violated the law.

And the controversial Wayne County severance story continues... Now there's news that Turkia Mullin's secretary, Sheri Galofaro-Mendez, also received a severance when following her boss to her new post.

From the Detroit News:

While apologizing for a controversy over a $200,000 severance to the county's former economic development czar, county officials admitted Tuesday that her executive assistant, Sheri Galofaro-Mendez, got a $15,600 severance from the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE, when she left in September.

Galofaro-Mendez followed Mullin when she became director of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and is now her executive assistant. Galofaro-Mendez also has agreed to follow Mullin's lead and return the money, said Alan Helmkamp, a county assistant executive.

"There were mistakes in process. "There were mistakes in paperwork. … And at the end of the day, there were mistakes in judgment."

So says the assistant executive for Wayne County Alan Helmkamp in the Detroit News.

Helmkamp was talking about the decision to award Turkia Mullin a $200,000 severance payment when she transferred to a new job in the county.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, Mullin received the severance payment last August when she transferred from her job as Wayne County’s economic developer (salary $200,000) to become the CEO of Wayne County's Detroit Metropolitan Airport (salary $250,000).

Mullin and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced last Friday that Mullin would return the money, but questions from Wayne County commissioners remained.

Ficano promised the commissioners that there would be no such payments in the future.

From the Detroit News:

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano promised county commissioners that he won't allow another severance like the $200,000 paid to the former economic development czar Turkia Mullin.

Ficano said he accepts responsibility for the controversial payout and said he is "launching an internal review."

"You have my full commitment that the review will be expeditious, and that I will put protections in place so that this situation isn't repeated," Ficano said.

The new Detroit Metro Airport CEO says she'll return the $200,000 severance package that has erupted into a major controversy.

Both Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Turkia Awada Mullin and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano initially defended the payout to Mullin, who voluntarily left her job as Wayne County's Chief Economic Development Officer to run the airport.

Let Them Eat Cake

Sep 29, 2011

A while ago, somebody asked me what the biggest thing was that I had learned from a lifetime in journalism.

What instantly popped into my mind was this: Common sense is a very uncommon thing. And that keeps a lot of journalists in business. You don’t need fancy degrees to know that it risky, not to mention wrong, to steal money, tell lies that can be easily uncovered, or cheat on your dying wife when you are running for president.

However, that doesn’t stop brilliant, well-educated people from doing such things and self-destructing, all  the time.

Pathologists at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office have been working to keep up with a case load that is one of the largest in the country - around 2,500 autopsies each year. They've been doing this at a time when the office's budget has been cut by 20 percent over the last 4 years.

Now, the University of Michigan Health System and Wayne County officials have announced they'll share resources to save money and improve educational opportunities.

From the Associated Press:

The University of Michigan Health System and Wayne County have agreed to partner for forensic services at the county medical examiner's office.

Officials said Thursday that the 3-year deal will save county taxpayers $1.5 million and provide the University of Michigan's Pathology Department with additional training.

The combined staff will help move along the high-volume of autopsies in Wayne County.

County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt and other Board of Pathology-certified pathologists would become employees of the school. The medical examiner's office would remain under county governance.

Schmidt said his office is one of the busiest in the country with about 2,500 autopsies each year. He said funding has dropped from $8.1 million in 2007 to $6.2 million to $5.7 million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The partnership is expected to start on October 1.

It won't prevent layoffs at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office. From a University of Michigan Health System press release:

The agreement would require five of the 31 employees at the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office to be laid off. However, three of the five employees will continue employment with Wayne County government and one will retire.

DETROIT (AP) - Ten years later, a federal appeals court has overturned a murder conviction in Wayne County because jurors weren't told that the gunman had a history of mental illness.

The court on Friday says Reginald Walker's trial lawyer was ineffective. The court ordered Walker's release from a life sentence unless he's brought to trial again within six months.

There is no dispute that Walker fatally shot a man inside a Detroit liquor store in 2000 and then walked out. The victim was a complete stranger.

The 57-year-old Walker has a history of mental illness, but his defense was based on self-defense. The appeals court says the 2001 trial strategy was greatly contradicted by "every piece" of evidence. The court's decision was 2-1.

chandlerparkonline.com

With temperatures stuck in the 90s, patrons of Detroit’s only water park say they’re livid about plans to shut it down.

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano says closing the Family Aquatic Center at Chandler Park would save a million dollars the county needs to balance the budget.

Nanga Chungag is 12 years old. She takes swimming lessons at the park and says closing it would be terrible for her, and her city:

Update: March 16th, 11:18 a.m.

Michigan State police officials have not provided details on why they searched  buildings associated with the Romulus Police Department. State Police Inspector Garth Burnside told the Detroit News that the search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation with the Wayne County prosecutor and the FBI.

The Detroit News reports that the following locations were searched:

  • the Romulus police headquarters
  • the home of Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre
  • St. Andre's wife's tanning salon
  • a building housing Police Department records
  • and a residence Burnside declined to identify.

The Detroit News spoke with a lawyer who sued the Police Chief and the City  of Romulus "over the disappearance of $300,000 worth of auto parts seized by Romulus police." The lawyer's client said the auto parts were in a trailer seized by police. According to the News, the Romulus police contended there were no auto parts in the trailer and the case was dismissed in January 2010.
 

March 15th, 11:36 a.m.

The Michigan State Police are saying little about a search warrant served today at the Romulus Police Department.  State Police Inspector Garth Burnside would only confirm that state troopers, along with FBI agents and the Wayne County Prosecutors Office served the warrant at 7 a.m. this morning.

Burnside says the search of the Romulus Police Department is part of an ongoing investigation.

He declined to say what is the focus of the investigation.

Salt trucks
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Counties all over Michigan are gearing up for another winter plowing season with higher costs and fewer resources.

Wayne County has outfitted about 20 trucks with new side plows that allow crews to make fewer passes to clear snow-covered roads.

Michael Rogers is the Roads Division director for Wayne County. During a demonstration of the equipment, he pointed out an innovation that will save on salt costs. The county has rigged up its trucks to wet the salt as it’s being spread on the roadway.  

You see the salt doesn’t necessarily make it all the way over here, to us. And that’s what you want. You want the salt to get on its intended target, and that’s what it’s doing. Because before the salt would’ve been ten feet back there, and that’s a waste of our resource.

Ten years ago, Wayne County had 726 people working for the Roads Division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 330.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is imposing a 20 percent pay cut on union employees.

The move comes after two years of negotiating failed to yield an agreement. Earlier this year, Ficano instituted unpaid furlough days after the union rejected a proposed 10 percent pay cut.

Joyce Ivory represents about a thousand workers with AFSCME Local 165. She says a state labor board ruled against that move, but Ficano pressed forward anyway.

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