Wayne County Commissioner calls severance letter a "cover-up," wants firings instead of suspensions

DETROIT (WXYZ) -  One Wayne County Commissioner says suspensions just aren't enough in the county's widening severance scandal. She says the county made decisions to deceive taxpayers and she wants heads to roll.

"It's a cover up," commissioner Ilona Varga told Action News Friday night.

Varga is typically a reliable friend of Robert Ficano's but you wouldn't know it by her latest comments. Speaking from her home in Lincoln Park, Varga said she was outraged to learn the Wayne County Executive would only be suspending his top deputy and corporation counsel for their roles in the severance scandal.

"I do not accept and I don't think many of the commissioners will either, the slap on the hand for this," said Varga.

Today, it was revealed that Deputy County CEO Azzam Elder drafted the undated letter promising Turkia Mullin her severance. Last month, county officials first said the letter was written in late 2008 or early 2009. Today, they admitted it was actually written on September 2 of this year, the day before Mullin was supposed to leave Wayne County.

It was printed on old stationary that the county hasn't used since 2009, when their headquarters was on Randolph Street. Varga says that's proof officials were trying to deceive commissioners and the public.

"I think cleaning house would be a good thing for Mr. Ficano," she said. "I had a lot of faith in the people that let us down. I even defended them at times when I felt they were right. But now seeing that they were trying to protect Mr. Ficano from something, if that's protection, then I think it's the wrong kind of people he has around him," Varga said.

Ficano used the word "mistake" 11 times during his five-minute statement to reporters today.

"This right here is not a mistake. It was done on purpose," Varga said."I expect honesty, truthfulness, integrity, and we don't have that anymore. The trust has been broken. And I don't think he can fix this. Not with them still in office," she said.

Ficano said today he's hoping to put this scandal behind him but Varga said she and other commissioners have plenty more questions. If they're not satisfied with the county's answers, she says they'll call for some appointees to resign.


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