robert ficano

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.

If I were a politician and had something embarrassing I knew I would have to reveal, I know exactly when I would do it.

I’d wait to see if the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees tonight, and if they do, I’d immediately make my confession.

Why is that? Because almost no one would notice. Everything in life is a matter of timing, and we can handle only so much news at once. Here’s something baffling about that.

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.

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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