DETROIT - The Wayne County Commission has censured Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
In a 14-1 vote Thursday, the commissioners noted the county had "endured a marked setback in public trust."
"The more we learned of the goings on in Wayne County the less we liked," said Commissioner Joseph Palamara. "I believe he's on notice, he's been on notice that the public is unhappy with what's transpired on his watch and that hopefully we can get some positive change here right now."
In their resolution, the commissioners noted the controversial "lucrative" severance and compensation packages for several employees, most notably that of Turkia Mullins.
Mullins was fired three months after her appointment last year to the Wayne County Airport Authority Board after it was revealed she got a $200,000 severance deal when she left her job as Wayne County's economic development director for the CEO position. Mullin later agreed to repay it and gave the county a check for the after-tax amount of $135,900. The FBI is investigating.
"These events have overshadowed country progress, which in a number of respects has been significant, but certainly less well documented," the commissioners wrote. "All of these events took place under the watch and control of CEO Robert Ficano. Whether actual or perceived, the lack of institutional oversight and control, and lack of effective leadership by the CEO is pervasively felt by the citizens of Wayne County."
Commissioner Laura Cox says censure isn't strong enough
The commission met in May to accept language that would put the measure on the agenda for Thursday's meeting.
Vice Chair Pro-Tem Laura Cox, the dissenter, and only Republican on the commission, had originally drafted a resolution asking for Ficano to step down for "the good of the country."
Cox was upset when the censure resolution was put forward.
She angrily opted out.
"I'm not going to back down. I am not going to participate in the good old boy network," Cox said. "I think that Mr. Ficano is not recognizing the mess he's made. I'm not saying he isn't trying to fix things, but he made a big mess and I think he should take responsibility for it, and that's why I want him to resign."
Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak had a sharp rebuttal to Cox's remarks.
"I absolutely support this censure resolution. I reject any notion that it is pathetic, watered down or good old boy network. This is an absolute repudiation of this body to send a message to the CEO that we hold him responsible for what's happened in Wayne County," Woronchak said.
Wayne county residents told Local 4 News they, too, are getting frustrated with the controversy.
"I think he should step down," said one resident who did not give his name.
Wayne County resident William Ferry said the controversy raises a lot of questions. "It does make you wonder if there are other things that have gone on in county government. So maybe it is time for him to go."
Ficano has said he won't resign and has done nothing wrong.
After the censure vote, he repeated his apologies for the actions some appointees had taken.
"I did apologize at the end of last year. I apologized at my State of the County and I'll continue to apologize for people that I did trust who betrayed that trust," Ficano said.
The commission is also putting together a committee that would look into how to get a measure on the ballot in November that would allow the commission to remove an elected county official is they saw fit.
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