Ficano: "I want to move on"

Nov 3, 2011

Wayne County executive Robert Ficano said he’s accepted resignations from two of his top appointees.

The move is fallout from a scandal over a lucrative severance payment made to a former county appointee.

Ficano had suspended both his deputy executive, Azzam Elder, and county’s top lawyer, Marianne Talon, two weeks ago.

The two have been blamed for creating after-the-fact paperwork that justified a $200,000 payout for former economic development director (and now-fired Metro Airport CEO) Turkia Mullin.

Ficano said the two would be distractions as he tries to move beyond the continuing scandal.

“They have been invaluable employees, but at the same time we have to start anew," Ficano said. "And they’ve tendered their resignation at this point, and I’ve accepted them, and I want to move on.”

Ficano now calls that payout a mistake, and promises a new era of transparency in county government.

Nonetheless, he defended a county-affiliated, non-profit business development group--the Wayne County Business Development Association--that’s been another source of controversy for him. The group’s members include some county contractors.

But Ficano said that’s ok. “They are the ones who want to make sure that jobs come in here," he said. 

"And it’s completely transparent on their bids, and where they’ve bid and what they’ve  won, and what they’ve lost. And they’ve followed procurement process.”

Ficano also announced replacements for three top positions. They include a former Detroit U.S. Attorney, Jeffrey Collins, as Ficano’s new top deputy.

Wayne County is being investigated by the FBI.