Ficano ducks questions about ex-aide's $96k annual pension

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano faced questions for the first time Friday about his 41-year-old former aide set to collect an estimated $96,000 annual pension for the rest of his life.

7 Action News first exposed the sweet pension deal for Ficano's former chief of staff Matt Schenk on Wednesday.

He left the county last year for a $194,000 a year job at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. But starting this summer, Schenk is due to start collecting an estimated $96,000 annual county pension.

It's part of an early retirement deal that Ficano's team created.

"Should Matt Schenk be drawing a $96,000 a year pension?" asked Investigator Ross Jones at an event today along Detroit's riverfront.

"That's between him and the retirement board right now," Ficano responded.

The county's CEO couldn't get away from our questions fast enough.

"Does it make sense that a 41-year-old would draw a $96,000 a year pension sir?" Jones asked.

"Ross, I gotta go," Ficano said.

"The event starts in 20 minutes," Jones responded.

"Okay, I gotta go," he said.

Ficano said he had no time to talk to 7 Action News but, seconds later, took part in an interview with a radio station.

Earlier this week, Ficano's Deputy CEO Jeff Collins said the deal should have come with an age restriction.

"If we had to do it over again," Collins said, "then an age requirement would have been something that I would have recommended. 

"Why was there no age restriction?" Jones asked today.

"That's the way the deal was structured, they gave it to everybody, they had a certain amount of time and limit to it," Ficano responded.

"Jeff says he regrets that, do you?" Jones asked.

"At this point, things are different in 2009 and 2010," Ficano said.

He wouldn't say if he thought Schenk's actions were greedy.

Schenk paid $440,000 to purchase the six years of county service he lacked to qualify for the pension. 

Contact Investigator Ross Jones at rjones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.

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