Nov 14, 2011
There has been a huge ruckus in the Detroit area recently about the $200,000 severance Wayne County development official Turkia Mullin got when she voluntarily left to take over as Metro Airport CEO. But Mullin was hardly the only county official to get such a sweet deal as a result of a plan set up by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
Forty county appointees took up similar offers of severance pay if they retired in the 6 months after an election. Then twenty of the officials who took the severance pay went back to work for the county as part-timers or “consultants.” One official who helped devise the policy providing the payouts, Tim Taylor, returned to work part-time for over $50,000 a year.
The severance pay was also included in calculating the officials’ average annual salary that determined the level of their pension payments. Some of the pensions for the retired officials paid them between $70,000 and $159,000 a year. That’s a lot more than most county workers get; the average pension for a county retiree last year was $22,373.
Union workers for the county were understandably outraged about the huge payouts, considering Ficano pushed through cuts in their wages of 10 to 20% during the past two years.
The story caused enough public outrage to force Ficano to fire Mullin and some others involved, but information about practices of the county government continues to get out. The latest news is that Mullin and her department set up three corporations that did business with the county.
Deals like this show just how much worth there is to all the politicians’ talk of “shared sacrifice”!