Wayne County Executive

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.

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.

It's no surprise that shipping conditions on the Great Lakes are miserable, even though spring has officially sprung and the shipping season officially opened March 25.

No commercial traffic has yet made it to the Soo Locks and ice is still four feet thick in some places, particularly in Lake Superior. On today’s show, we speak with a member of the U.S. Coast Guard about what's being done about this.

Then, what happened as World War II brought women and minorities into Detroit's assembly plants?

And, the Detroit bankruptcy is starting to affect the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water prices could go up, impacting consumers far outside the city. Daniel Howes joined us for our weekly check-in to tell us more.

Also, Phil Cavanagh became the third candidate to enter the race to replace Robert Ficano as Wayne County Executive.

First on the show, Michigan's economy may be pulling itself up and out of the Great Recession.

But our schools are still mired in an "education recession" and all of our children are paying the price.

That's the finding of the newest State of Michigan Education Report from The Education Trust-Midwest.

It's an eye-opening exercise to see how our state's schools and student performance compares to two states that are powering ahead in the national assessment: Massachusetts and Tennessee.

What lessons can Michigan learn from those two states?

The co-author of the new education report, Amber Arellano of The Education Trust-Midwest, joined us today.

Phil Cavanagh
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He's been a county commissioner. He's currently in his second term as the state representative for Redford Township – the 10th House district.

Now Phil Cavanagh wants to become the next Wayne County Executive.

Cavanagh became the third candidate to enter the race to replace Robert Ficano as county executive. He joined us today to discuss what compelled him to make this move.

Listen to the full interview above.

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.