wayne county

Stateside
5:38 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano leaves behind tough financial challenge for successor

Outgoing Wayne County executive Robert Ficano
Credit 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.

Opinion
3:50 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

The pros and cons of Bill Wild, one of the candidates for Wayne Co. executive

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.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Is building deconstruction viable on a large scale? Project suggests it just might be

Workers deconstructing a home.
Credit via SER Metro

Wayne County officials say a large project proves that building deconstruction is becoming a viable alternative to demolition.

Deconstruction is the process of carefully taking apart abandoned properties, and salvaging as many materials from them as possible.

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Health
1:23 pm
Sat June 28, 2014

Group wants "Health" to be a key consideration in all government decisions

The idea is that the “health” is determined by many factors that fall outside the control of health care professionals. Factors include: income, employment, education and where people live, work, and play.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A handful of Michigan county health department leaders say “health” should play a bigger role in local decision making. 

Health department officials from Wayne, Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties met in Lansing this past week to strategize how to change the way local governments do pretty much everything. 

Linda Vail is Ingham County’s Chief Health Officer.   She says city and county leaders often fail to consider the potential effects their decisions will have on their community’s health.

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Opinion
12:34 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Wayne county is so Democratic the only election that really counts is the August primary

Wayne County always has been the biggest county in Michigan, at least in terms of people, and it's the most important. Though it includes Detroit, more than a million of its residents live elsewhere, from the affluent leafy suburbs of Plymouth to gritty downriver towns like River Rouge.

They are all very different, but have two things in common. First, they elect an executive, sort of a super mayor to run things. And second, they live in a county in trouble and in deficit.

In recent years, Wayne County has been rocked by personnel scandals and an astonishing farce concerning a half-built jail abandoned after $125 million taxpayer dollars had been wasted.

Now, there are increasing worries that Wayne County, like its largest city, could be facing emergency management. That should be alarming to all of us for the same reason Detroit’s troubles are.

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Politics & Government
10:51 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Wayne County sues to collect back taxes on properties it once sold at tax-foreclosure auctions

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz’s office has filed a lawsuit to collect about $80 million in delinquent property taxes.

The irony is that these are taxes owed on properties the county once owned, but sold at auction after they were foreclosed on...for delinquent property taxes.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Wayne County getting much-needed cash from its treasurer; report finds he owes more

Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz
Credit via Wayne County

Struggling Wayne County will get a much-needed cash infusion, thanks to its own treasurer’s office—and the county’s auditor general thinks it should get even more.

Michigan’s largest county is in major financial trouble, running a deficit of at least $175 million and growing.

The state recently approved a deficit-elimination plan that includes steep cuts and possible asset sales. And there’s been lots of speculation about a possible emergency manager coming down the road.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Plagued by scandal, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano will still seek re-election

Robert Ficano

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.

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Health
6:15 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Ranking the health of Michigan's counties

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A new report ranks the healthiest and least healthy of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Ottawa County topped the rankings as healthiest, while Wayne County placed at the bottom.

But there’s no geographic pattern to the rankings put together by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers.

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Politics & Government
6:33 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Wayne Co. plan calls for pay and benefit cuts, spinning off sewage plants

Wayne County Commission Chair Gary Woronchak
waynecounty.com

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano is asking commissioners to approve a plan that calls for cutting pay and benefits for county employees, and spinning off its sewage treatment plants, among other things.

The county has a running deficit of at least $175 million. And it continues to spend more than it takes in.

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Politics & Government
12:45 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Wayne County ponders offer for botched jail site

Credit Wayne County

Downtown Detroit real estate mogul Dan Gilbert wants to buy the site of Wayne County’s botched jail project.

Rock Ventures has offered a total of $50 million to build an entertainment district where the half-built jail and other county facilities now sit. Wayne County abandoned the jail project in August because it was hugely over-budget.

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Education
7:19 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Detroit taxpayers foot big bill for closed schools

Abandoned school in Detroit
Credit Flickr user/Dave-a-roni (Dark Spot Photography)

Detroit property owners face a quarter century of payments for construction and renovation of school buildings that no longer operate.

The Detroit Free Press says that 110 buildings covered by $2.1 billion in bond issues in 1994 and 2009 are either empty or demolished.

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Law
3:06 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Ficano

A wrongful termination lawsuit against Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano was dismissed.
Credit 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.

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Law
12:02 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

U.S. Marshals moving prisoners from Wayne County jails

U.S. Marshals are moving 200 prisoners from jails in Detroit due to faulty conditions.
Credit Flick user Still Burning

The U.S. Marshals Service is stepping in to move inmates from two jails in downtown Detroit. That's because of faulty conditions -- leaky roofs, plugged pipes and overheating -- that officials say have plagued the jails for years.

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Politics & Government
8:59 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

1-person grand jury to look at Wayne County jail project

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A one-person grand jury has been convened to investigate whether any criminal activity is involved in the over-budget Wayne County Jail project.

County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny on Wednesday also banned the release of an auditor general's investigation of the construction project.

Kenny's order came after a petition filed by Prosecutor Kym Worthy. Among other things, the petition says Worthy's investigation will focus on neglect of duty, conspiracy, fraud and misconduct.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat August 24, 2013

The week in review: Detroit primaries, ACLU racial mapping case, 'fee-for-service'

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Week-in-review for 8/23/2013

This week, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the certification of Detroit’s mayoral primary results, the Detroit ACLU’s case against the FBI, and a union’s “fee-for-service” for employee grievances.

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Business
2:18 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Wayne County plans to sell Packard Plant

Detroit's historic Packard Plant hasn't been in use regularly since the 1950s.
Credit Julia Field / Michigan Radio

Wayne County officials hope to close a deal to sell Detroit's historic Packard Plant next week. County officials say they've been in talks for over a year with Chicago-area developer Bill Hults to buy the property.

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Opinion
8:58 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Systems failure leads to election confusion and stalled road funding

Lessenberry commentary for 8/21/2013

Lily Tomlin and Oliver Cromwell have nothing in common, as far as I know.  But I thought of both this morning when I was considering the news from Detroit and Lansing.

Tomlin years ago came up with a perfect line to describe the latest twist in the Detroit elections mess.  “No matter how cynical you get, you can’t keep up.”

That was exactly the case when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers met to certify the totals in the Detroit mayoral primary election two weeks ago. There should have been no mystery about the results. Mike Duggan had been ruled off the ballot on a technicality, but won in a write-in landslide.  He got nearly twice as many votes as his closest competitor, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. But Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett yesterday announced she was throwing out nearly half of Duggan’s votes, because poll workers merely recorded them, rather than make a hashtag mark next to them.

Not only did this cavalierly disenfranchise twenty thousand voters, it looks and smells highly suspect. Cathy Garrett is the sister of Al Garrett, a prominent union official who is one of Benny Napoleon’s biggest backers.

Now her decision would not have changed the lineup for the November runoff. It will still be between Duggan and Napoleon. But Garrett’s maneuver would have allowed Napoleon’s backers to claim he “won” a primary he actually lost.

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Opinion
8:38 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Why merging Detroit and Wayne County makes sense for both

Jack Lessenberry commentary for 08/19/2013.

Last week, I said merging the governments of Detroit and Wayne County was a sensible solution to both their crises.

This idea was not wildly popular. One woman said I was out of my mind, and added Wayne County “just need(ed) to have their crooks behind bars.”

A more thoughtful man said I was “operating from the usual liberal impulse of having successful entities transfer resources to unsuccessful entities,” something he indicated didn’t work.

Well, that gentleman is right. It usually doesn’t work. That’s what has been happening with revenue sharing.

What I am proposing is creating an entirely new entity, writing a new charter and creating a combined county government. I am not suggesting Wayne County simply absorb Detroit.

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Opinion
10:48 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Merging Wayne County and Detroit could fix both

Lessenberry commentary for 8/16/2013

  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.

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