DETROIT -

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano spent $20,000 to rent out the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn last week and hosted 80 people with cheese and crackers after his State of the County speech.

For the actual speech, Wayne County spent $7,500 on a professional speech writer and hired a full TV crew with a teleprompter. There were three cameras, lights and a satellite truck totaling $20,000.

The man who set up the whole deal is county legislative liaison Ray Byers, who said the county actually got a bargain.

"And if the only way to get it out was to outsource it to let the people know what was going on with the deficit elimination and what the planning was going to be, yeah, I don't know how else you would have gotten it out where everybody could see it and gotten the coverage for the media to actually ask the hard questions, which they've done," said Byers.

It was county money spent that has others on the County Commission shaking their heads, and Commissioner Ray Basham is first among them.

"Could be a DPW worker, could be a sheriff in the jail. I mean, that's the way I'm looking at it," said Basham.

Kevin McNamara, who is running for Ficano's job, was at the event. He used a similar set to announce his candidacy without the satellite truck.

"I don't know how they spent $20,000," he said. "We videotaped, full-time professionals, we had teleprompters along with computer equipment brought in, stages brought in. We brought in professionals to run all the equipment. We didn't have cheese, but it still only cost $4,000."

Byers said the county would have spent more than $20,000 had they stayed at the Guardian Building as they did last year. This year's crowd was much smaller, too.

He claims the whole enterprise was downsized and the county deserves credit for that.