Wayne County Executive Ficano's office, County Commission battle could end up in court

Wayne County Commission wants more control of executive office after pay scandal

Published On: Aug 31 2012 05:20:57 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 31 2012 06:22:46 PM EDT
DETROIT -

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's ongoing pay scandal is so embarrassing to the County Commission that commissioners such as Bernard Parker feel compelled to act.

Parker authored two of three ballot questions for the November ballot to try to clean up the mess.

"There is so much controversy, people want to voice their opinion some way to resolve this so it won't happen in the future," Parker said.

This past month, the Wayne County Commission voted to authorize Michigan's governor to remove the county executive for cause. Another ballot question would give the Commission the power to oversee county executive appointee pay.

More: Wayne County headlines

In a letter dated last week, Deputy County Executive Jeffrey Collins told the Commission, "This proposed charter amendment is patently in violation of the law, and therefore would not be enforceable should it be added to the Wayne County Charter ... There is no state law authorizing such a removal."

Read: Wayne County Commission's power to approve compensation
Read: Removal of the Wayne County Executive from Office by the Governor

On executive pay, Collins wrote, "We believe the proposed amendment violates the principle of separation of powers, and therefore would not be enforceable ... therefore ... the Commission cannot intrude on matters related to the compensation of executive branch personnel."

The implication is clear: A November win could end up in court.

"If the people of Wayne County vote overwhelmingly to support this, which I think they will, they want to see balanced government. If he went to court to challenge it he would be making a big mistake," said Parker.

The Commission's attorneys advise this is constitutional. Ficano's office put out a statement Friday:

"We want to make sure the Commission is aware of a number of issues that any taxpayer in the county could raise."

Read more: Rod Meloni: Cost of ballot proposals: Big lawyer fees!