Turkia Awada Mullin (Source: Freep.com)
Turkia Awada Mullin (Source: Freep.com)

BY ROGER CASTILLO, Staff Writer

In the past few months, the news of former CEO of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport Turkia Mullin receiving $200,000 severance pay from the County after she left to become CEO has surfaced.

Turkia was let go from her post last week.  The evidence is mounting of how Wayne County continues to misspend taxpayer’s money and despite declining population numbers across the board in cities that are not named Detroit, the county continues to operate in the red.

CEO without any experience

The seven-member panel that run the Wayne County Airport Authority chose Turkia Mullin despite the fact she has no experience running an airport and the other four finalists who applied for the position did.
The three-person search committee of authority members made $ 2 million off county contracts in the past two years. A firm paid $50,000 to lead the search, Trustinus LLC of Southfield, is owned by Jack Krasula, a partner in a failed racetrack in Huron Township that Mullin helped develop with taxpayer money.

She as the county’s economic development direct was being paid $200,000 a year prior to leaving for the airport job. In September, the county confirmed a year’s pay of $200,000 from the taxpayers as a severance package. From what was first reported, it was told that she was guaranteed the money by an old contract and she deserved it for bring and attracting $5.5 billion in investment commitments in two years.

The contract however was bogus. Ficano acknowledge there was no contract, an undated letter on an old county letterhead was written the same day she took the airport post. The person who wrote the letter Deputy county executive Azzam Elder and corporate counsel Marianne Talon both resigned last Thursday.

Kickbacks a plenty

Ficano introduced a special severance late last year to allow some 300 political appointees to receive up to 24 weeks’ pay if they were not around election time. Some received over $50,000 in pay but when the Detroit News reported it, the benefit was suspended.

Beyond the issues in Detroit

The population in Detroit has decreased down to twenty-five percent as 2010 numbers show the city is at 700,000 people. Wayne County as a whole was down 11%. (Source) yet Oakland County was up 0.7%.

Why does this number matter so much? Well Ficano has 190 appointees yet Oakland County Executive L Brooks Patterson has only 14. There are plans to limit the amount of severance payments, requiring appointees to be approved by the commission and stopping Wayne Count retirees from working as contractors. Why so many appointees?

Trust has to be restored

Robert Ficano has vowed new changes and reform.

“We are going to earn back everybody’s trust one day at a time”, Ficano said.

“I’m sorry for the events that have brought us to this point. The recent events I can tell you have been the most challenging I’ve had to face in my public life”.

He has a long way to go to regain trust but can it turn around? There is hope but as a dark cloud looms over the city of Detroit with budget cuts and internal fighting between the City Council and the Mayor, this is the latest black eye to the county.