DETROIT, MI – Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s proposal to cut wages and benefit plans for county employees is yet another act of smoke and mirrors. Ficano wants to avert a state intervention by cutting wages and benefits and selling the county’s wastewater treatment operations. Ficano’s mismanagement of Wayne County funds and assets becomes more staggering each day.
Scandal is nothing new to Robert Ficano and his administration. Those scandals continue to cost the taxpayers big money. Taxpayers have paid out more than $800,000 to law firms hired to defend Robert Ficano and his administration. The county approved spending up to almost $1.2 million to defend itself as of the end of 2013. The county also continues to pay lawyers and a data service company to comply with the FBI’s ongoing probe into the county. 5 individuals have been convicted from that probe. It has been widely reported that Ficano has wasted millions of county money with sweetheart retirement deals to his appointees too.
Turkia Mullin who is a big part of the Ficano administration scandals cost the taxpayers more than $700,000 after she was fired from her job by the Airport Authority Board when it was learned that Ficano had given Mullin a $200,000 golden parachute when she voluntarily resigned her job as Wayne County’s economic development chief so she could take the new position at the airport.
Another appointee Azzam Elder was promised a severance deal by Ficano worth up to $350,000. He sued Wayne County for wrongful termination. Elder’s lawsuit is seeking $25 million. Ficano promised at least 16 other county appointees secret severance deals—one as high as $350,000.
At the age of 41, Matt Schenk started collecting an estimated $96,000 annual pension, courtesy of an early retirement incentive offered to Wayne County appointees. This early retirement incentive offered to Wayne County appointees had no age restrictions attached to it. Schenk was Robert Ficano’s former chief of staff.
Add to the severance scandals the failed Wayne County Jail Project. Robert Ficano stopped construction on the $300 million jail after learning it was a projected $91 million over budget. No real answers have come to light as to where all of that money went.
Robert Ficano wants to once again cut public safety to shore up the county deficit by placing it on the backs of the Wayne County Prosecutors Office and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. Ficano wants to eliminate another seven prosecutors from the Wayne County Prosecutors Office. He also wants to slash overtime costs and inmate populations at county jails which fall under the jurisdiction of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Benny Napoleon and Prosecutor Kym Worthy have taken the county to court alleging their budgets are already woefully inadequate. Prosecutor Kym Worthy stated Ficano doesn’t give a damn about public safety.
During a press conference in November of 2013, Prosecutor Kym Worthy told the public that at that time there were nearly 40 known murderers, 180 child abusers and up to 150 sexual predators freely roaming the streets of Detroit and Wayne County because she doesn’t have staff members to investigate the cases and secure warrants. That was only 3 months ago.
It is widely believed that Robert Ficano is the target of a large FBI investigation. Given the financial status of Wayne County based on the problems that have come to light under the County Executive, it begs the questions: Why has Gov. Snyder not made moves to start correcting these issues? Where is the Michigan’s Attorney General’s office in this mess? Where are the Feds?
The deficit for Wayne County is estimated between $175 million and $220 million and climbing daily. Ficano has not cut any of his pay or benefits to start offsetting the deficit. He has also not made any meaningful changes to his appointee’s salaries and benefits in his latest PR act to stop a state take over of Wayne County. He needs to be removed from office by someone who has the authority to do so.