Mayor-elect Mike Duggan announced Monday the appointment of three top officials to the Fire Department and three top officials in key legal positions for the administration taking office January 1st.
Jonathan Jackson nominated to serve as Interim Fire Commissioner
Jonathan Jackson, a native Detroiter and 25-year veteran who currently serves as Second Deputy Fire Commissioner, has been nominated as Interim Fire Commissioner. “I’ve had several meetings with Jonathon Jackson and been very impressed with his leadership skills,” Duggan said. :Conversations with several leaders in the Fire Department and several union leaders showed the broad support Mr. Jackson has across the department."
Duggan indicated he intends to take six months to do a national search for the permanent Fire Commissioner. "I hope Commissioner Jackson will be a candidate for the permanent job."
Holding the role of Fire Commissioner was the last thing Jackson expected 25 years ago when he was a design student at the College for Creative Studies. He had never thought about being a fire fighter until he accompanied his brother one day as he applied to the Fire Department.
"The recruiter did a good job of getting me interested and convinced me to apply as well. In the end, I got hired and my brother didn’t,” he said. Today, Jackson is preparing to lead his department.
Commissioner Jackson said he intended to move quickly to cut EMS response time, improve the training of firefighters and EMS staff, and upgrade the department’s equipment and facilities. "Residents can’t wait any longer for us to fix our broken Fire and EMS services, which are right now putting our citizens and first responders at risk. We have a department of very dedicated men and women and I’m going to do everything I can to give them the tools to succeed."
Jackson, who has been hospitalized eight times in his fire-fighting career, says as Commissioner he will still be present at major scenes to make sure his fire fighters have the resources they need to do their job safely. Jackson’s commitment to his front line fire fighters can be attributed to his having been assigned to the busiest engine company in the nation – Engine 50 – straight out of the academy.
"That experience showed me the importance of preparedness," he said. "I also believe it has conditioned me to be ready for this new challenge," Jackson said.
Jackson indicated he was reappointing Edsel Jenkins – a 26-year veteran – as Deputy Fire Commissioner. As a licensed Certified Public Accountant, Mr. Jenkins will be responsible for overseeing budget operations. He will also be responsible for information technologies, community relations, and facilities. Mr. Jenkins holds a Master in Business Administration from Walsh College, and completed the School of Fire Staff and Command at Eastern Michigan University.
Jackson also is reappointing Sydney Zack as Second Deputy Commissioner for HR/Labor & EMS. A graduate of Renaissance High School, Zack came to the Fire Department from the City of Detroit Law Department in 2012, where she was primarily responsible for handling Fire and Police labor cases since 2008. As 2nd Deputy Fire Commissioner she has handled employment operations for over 1,200 employees, including human resources, medical and labor transactions. Zack graduated from the University of Michigan and holds a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws from Wayne State University in labor and employment law.
Jackson also announced the promotion of two fire department veterans to his leadership team: Craig Dougherty as Second Deputy Commissioner for Fire Fighting Operations and Apparatus Repair and Orlando Gregory as Second Deputy Commissioner for the Training & Fire Marshall divisions.
Dougherty has been with the Detroit Fire Department for 36 years and progressed through the ranks to become Chief of Fire Fighting Operations in 2012. As the former Vice-President of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association he has been invaluable to understanding operations of the Department from the perspective of both management and the rank and file.
Gregory has 21 years of fire fighting experience with the Detroit Fire Department. He has been a Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator in the Department’s Arson Section, and is the current Chief of the Training Section. As 2nd Deputy Fire Commissioner he will oversee the Fire Marshal’s Division, including Prevention and Arson, and the Training Section.
Pursuant to the City Charter, Jackson’s nomination is being submitted to the City Council for confirmation.
Butch Hollowell nominated as Corporation Counsel
Duggan also announced today that he is nominating Butch Hollowell as Corporation Counsel. Hollowell has been a lawyer specializing in municipal law for more than 20 years and most recently served as General Counsel for the Detroit Branch of the NAACP.
"Detroit is paying out nearly $19 million per year in liability payments, money that isn’t available for critical services for our citizens,” Duggan said. “I was looking for a leader of the Law Department who would be much more aggressive in defending the city against the hundreds of lawsuits we face each year."
Born in Hawaii the son of a MASH Unit doctor serving in Korea, Hollowell has lived in Detroit since the age of five. He brings to his position extensive courtroom and public policy experience in the areas of civil rights, voters’ rights and consumer protection. In late 2000, Hollowell represented Al Gore on a six-member recount team in Miami-Dade County as part of the disputed presidential election, which he says was the most intense professional experience of his life. Since 1986, Hollowell has been a leading voice on the issue of auto insurance redlining in Detroit.
As the city’s top lawyer, Hollowell said consumer protectionism will play an important role in his work as he leads his staff to reduce the city’s liability payments.
"We have many fine attorneys working in the City Law Department,” Hollowell said. “We’ve got the talent to do a lot better job providing prompt legal advice to our departments and to be much more successful defending cases in the courtroom."
To assist him in this effort, Hollowell announced that he was naming Chuck Raimi as Deputy Corporation Counsel. Raimi, who grew up in northwest Detroit and has spent his entire career in Detroit, has a reputation as one of the region’s most effective litigation attorneys. From 2004-2012, Raimi served as Deputy General Counsel to the Detroit Medical Center, heading DMC’s litigation team. In that role, Raimi sharply reduced the DMC's medical malpractice expenditures, and the remainder of the legal budget was slashed from $8 million to $2 million as almost all work was brought in-house.
Raimi also spent 22 years at the Bodman firm handling complex litigation and corporate matters for clients such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Detroit Lions and Wayne County. Raimi graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School.
Hollowell is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. As required by city charter his name is being submitted to City Council for confirmation.
Portia Roberson named Head of new Civil Rights and Ethics Division
Duggan also named Portia Roberson as the head of the newly-created Civil Rights and Ethics Division. A lifelong Detroiter and Cass Tech graduate, Roberson served in the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, as Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, and most recently as Detroit’s Corporation Counsel. The creation of this new unit fulfills a pledge Duggan made during the campaign to elevate the administration’s commitment to honesty and integrity.
"We are going to establish a new training program for all City of Detroit employees, educating them on the laws and expectations for standards of ethics and to make sure everyone knows how to report improper activities for investigation. Portia Roberson’s background in the Justice Department and the City Law Department makes her the ideal candidate to establish an integrity program and enforce non-discrimination laws in the work-place," Duggan said.
Roberson said she is looking forward to applying her experience to her new challenge of restoring public confidence in Detroit’s city leadership.
"I love our city and there can’t be any more important job right now than ensuring that city government, and those who do business with it, are held to the highest ethical standards,” Roberson said. “I want to be a part of changing the way Detroiters look at their public officials."
Roberson is a member of various professional organizations, including the Wolverine Bar Association and the National Black Prosecutors Association. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and The Links, Inc.