Highland Park Financial Manager Sued

Manager Says $1 Salary Was An Option

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. - Highland Park's crisis financial manager is facing a lawsuit filed by taxpayers alleging he was not truthful about his salary.

Arthur Blackwell was appointed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to bring the city out of financial trouble.

The community was told during Blackwell's appointment, including in a press release, that Blackwell had accepted the position under the terms he would work for $1 a year for the cash-strapped city.

But according papers filed with the lawsuit, it is alleged that Blackwell cut a backroom deal with the state to secretly pay him $11,000 a month, or $132,000 a year.

"Him receiving the compensation of $11,000 a month was never raised, never publicized by either entity, be it the state or the local community, or by himself," said concerned resident Robert Davis, who is involved in the lawsuit.

Davis said the state had no right to rewrite Blackwell a six-figure deal without any public meetings. Davis also said Blackwell did not have the authority to appoint new employees but hired two executives, at executive pay, which cost the city even more.

"For the auditor and the new chief of staff slash city attorney, they were not approved by the emergency loan board," Davis said.

Blackwell said he could not comment until he had read over the lawsuit more comprehensively, but said his $1 salary was optional and that he's doing his job and deserves every penny.

Highland Park City Attorney Bill McConico agrees.

"Trash has been picked up. We're cleaning the streets and we're moving this city forward. The fact that someone is suing right now because he's making the same amount as every other emergency financial manager across the state has made is ridiculous," he said.

Although requested, a statement from Granholm or the state's treasury department has not been received.

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