Wayne County exec's appointment raises eyebrows

Hatim "Tim" Attalla, of Northville, is a Miller Canfield attorney with a real estate license, but he has no other economic development experience on this scale.
Hatim "Tim" Attalla, of Northville, is a Miller Canfield attorney with a real estate license, but he has no other economic development experience on this scale.

DETROIT – The snow-covered, $300 million, unfinished Wayne County jail project and the equally desolate looking $26 million Pinnacle Raceway both failed miserably un the banner of "EDGE": Wayne County's Economic Development Growth Engine.

New Executive Warren Evans ditched the name after posing a question to staffers.

"What projects have we begun, continued and finished? The answer was goose egg," said Evans.

The new Economic Development Department gets a new leader -- politically-connected 55-year-old Hatim "Tim" Attalla, of Northville. He's a Miller Canfield attorney with a real estate license, but he has no other economic development experience on this scale.

Attalla also made headlines in 2009 when a federal RICO indictment against Detroit's Highwaymen motorcycle club named a drug-dealing "general counsel to the enterprise." He ended up acquitted -- not guilty -- in the case.

"I've always known him to be a credible person. No, I don't throw the baby out with the bath water. I understand the issue and I think we made a wise decision to get him, and I think he'll be an asset to the administration," said Evans.

Meanwhile, Evans must decide how to defeat Wayne County's deficit, and he's looking hard at a tax hike.

"There's certainly a potential millage in the future, it is a possibility. But if it is, it's got to be defined for a specific purpose and make sure it is being utilized for that purpose, if voters are gracious enough to grant that," said Evans.

That tax hike is no slam dunk. It first must get past the County Commission with 10 votes. If it gets by there, then voters must pass a millage at the polls by a 60 percent or better margin -- a tall order, indeed.


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