METRO AIRPORT (WXYZ) - It’s the talk of the town: the sweet golden parachute given to a top Wayne County official, just for voluntarily leaving her job. Now, Turkia Mullin is responding to the Action News report that sent shockwaves throughout the county.
"It was negotiated, I negotiated this, it was consistent with what my predecessor (was) paid," she told Channel 7's Heather Catallo Wednesday night.
Mullin is the new Wayne County Airport CEO and she got a $200,000 severance just for leaving her old job at Wayne County’s headquarters. That has some Wayne County Commissioners furious and demanding to know how this happened, and if it can be stopped.
"My immediate reaction is much the same as any taxpayer’s, that it made my head spin," said Wayne County Commission chair Gary Woronchak.
He was reacting to Tuesday night’s report by the Action News Investigators about a golden parachute for one of the county’s highest paid employees.
In August, Mullin was selected as the next CEO for Detroit Metro Airport. She’d leave her county job, where she was paid $200,000 a year as head of economic development—for a big raise at the airport: another $50,000 more.
But on her way out the door, Mullin was given a $200,000 severance payment, which the county says was part of her contract.
The check cleared at the same time that county employees are struggling with deep, 20% pay cuts. County parks are being closed and funding has been trimmed to vital programs like Meals on Wheels.
“I think it’s reprehensible that someone would willingly leave a job for a better paying job, knowing the state of the county’s budget, to take that kind of a severance,” said Commission Vice-Chair Laura Cox.
Cox and other commissioners said they were blindsided by the news of Mullin’s payout, and are demanding answers from County Executive Robert Ficano. If this is part of her contract, they say, why didn’t they know about it.
“I’m requesting from the administration copies of all contracts, not just for this individual but for her predecessor, since they say this is some common practice. When the commission approved the appointment, there was no contract attached to it,” says Woronchak.
Mullin told Channel 7 today that she won't return any of the $200,000 severance, saying she's brought in more than five billion dollars in economic investment to Wayne County.
When pressed by Catallo if those dollars were directly invested as a result of Mullin's involvement, or included dollars that would have been invested regardless, she would not give a clear answer. She insisted, however, that she played an "integral role."
Earlier Wednesday, Mullin told The Detroit News that her severance was being criticized because she’s not a man.
“When you are a woman,” she said, “you are subjected to this ridiculous level of scrutiny. It's appalling to me that there is such a double standard."
She went on to say, "I need to be paid what my value is. I bring a lot of value to the table. I am getting paid what I am worth."
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