DEARBORN (WXYZ) - Is she greedy, or is she worth it? Tonight, Robert Ficano is standing behind Turkia Mullin's sweet $200,000 severance, just for leaving her job.
Action News Investigator Heather Catallo broke the story that's quickly turned into quite the controversy.
Mullin is still defending her acceptance of $200,000 in severance pay for stepping down as Wayne County’s Economic Development chief so she could take over as CEO of Metro Airport.
“The county commissioners say they had no idea about your severance deal, how did you get this past them,” Action News Investigator Heather Catallo asked Mullen.
“Anything that was done was done in accordance with the law and is consistent with the charter, so I think you’ll have to ask the lawyers about that. It’s something that I negotiated,” said Mullin.
Today, Wayne County commissioners scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to discuss Mullin's severance. Commissioners said they were blindsided by the payment, and want to know why any county employee is entitled to severance simply for leaving his or her job.
Today was also Mullin's first meeting in front of the Wayne County Airport Authroity as its new CEO. Even though she is about to ask 100 of her new employees at the airport to take a buy out or possibly face layoffs, she is also defending the new $250,000 yearly salary she’ll receive for running the airport.
“I make in the lower 50% of airports across the country, and that was based on a bench mark study, so I’d be happy to share that with you. But I’ll give you a great example, in Indianapolis, they have five million passengers, and that airport director makes $286,000. So this is what I negotiated, this is what I require coming in to this job,” said Mullin.
Also today, for the first time, County Executive Robert Ficano defended Mullin’s severance, saying the county was required to honor it. He spoke this morning from China on WJR radio.
“It’s a standard contract, it’s a one year severance, they get a one year severance when they leave the job, like I said, this was put together by a bunch of business people in Detroit, initially when we came into office and they looked at the model. This is a standard type contract,” Fiacno said.
Turkia Mullin says her excellent performance merits the severance pay, and she has no plans to give it back. No doubt, it’s a sweet deal for her, and one that Bloomfield Hills employment attorney Deborah Gordon says she’s never seen before.
“To me, it’s unheard to have a person who works for the government who’s leaving to go work for a better job, leaving voluntarily, making more money, and then, get the windfall of $200,000,” said Gordon.
Mullin maintains that she has worked hard for all of this, and she’s vowing to bring more money into the airport. In fact, she’s already announcing a new cargo facility for the airport and other revenue generating ideas to close the budget gap at the airport.
If you have a tip for the Action News Investigative Team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (248) 827-9466.
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