Rod Meloni: Wayne Co. Jail and your right to know

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®
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DETROIT - "We're pushing for accountability" Wayne County Commissioner Ray Basham told me in our late afternoon interview Monday. He is unimpressed by the fact that no one appears willing to answer the $100 million questions: who is at fault and who might face charges with the new jail debacle?

Basham says a few people know -- Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano, Wayne County Auditor General Willie Mayo and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. They are the only people who have seen Mayo's audit report [Ficano's office says he's only seen excerpts] that looked into the cost overruns at the doomed new Wayne County Jail project. We know the 150 page report shows a number of counts of criminal activity.

Mayo apparently brought his findings first to Ficano when he is supposed to drop everything the minute he finds criminal wrongdoing and bring it to the County Prosecutor. He did that only after finishing his report. But Kym Worthy last week told Mayo his report gave her reason to want to do her own fraud investigation into the project and threatened Mayo with obstruction of justice charges if he released his report to anyone. So he won't, and until Local 4 News asked her this afternoon about it, she intended to stick to her position on non-disclosure.

Basham is the chairman of the Wayne County Audit Committee. It's his job to look at Mayo's work, and hold public hearings on the results. He's been waiting for months to see this audit and he has yet to get his hands on it. He is now in a full court press to get that report with the purpose of passing it along to Wayne County's beleaguered taxpayers. He told us "I think I have a right to see it, I think the audit committee has the right to see it, I think the Wayne County Commission has a right to see it, I think the media and the public have a right to see it. The public is not dumb; they can make up their own minds."

Basham says he understands Worthy's concerns about jeopardizing her investigation, but he says this probe is no secret. Whomever might want to try and wriggle out of trouble already knows pretty much everyone from the feds on down are looking at this failure. He doesn't think Mayo's findings will tip off anyone who might or could destroy evidence. Moreover, he is unimpressed by both Worthy and Mayo in this case believing the county commission is being treated like mushrooms: "and when people say ‘I'm not giving you this or I'm not gonna do this, I have a job to do,' well we have a job to do. Let's not put it off forever. Let's not continue this boondoggle of spending millions of taxpayer dollars and no jail to put the criminals in. I mean let's move forward with something!"

Well, prosecutor Worthy appears willing to move forward a little. She put out a statement tonight saying she might want to give Basham a "redacted" report, that's one with the criminal wrongdoing blotted out. That's not good enough for Basham. He wants the whole report and nothing but. If he can't get it, he says look out for legal action. Stay tuned.

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