Wayne County official warned of jail waste 3 years ago; commissioners approved deal anyway

DETROIT (WXYZ) - You've heard of the bridge to nowhere. In Wayne County, you'll find the jail for no one.

It's one of the biggest government debacles in Michigan history, and it's in our own backyard. 

Wayne County CEO Bob Ficano said this jail deal made all the sense in the world. but if he'd listened to one of the county's top money men, he would have heard a very different story. 

As Ficano's office asked commissioners to approve a $300 million bond for the jail, a top county official took a look at Ficano's math.  Remember, the CEO said the deal was a no-brainer. Consolidating the three jails into one, he said, would save the county money.

But a 2010 memo from Wayne County Commission Chief Fiscal Advisor Dwayne Seals said otherwise.

"…we see NO identifiable plan or schedule for cost savings to support this bond," Seals wrote. The memo was presented to commissioners in November 2010.

It came long before the jail was awash in $91 million of projected overruns. Still, 10 of 15 commissioners voted to green light the deal. 

"So from day one this thing didn't make sense, but they still went forward with it," said Brendan Dunleavy, Wayne County's former auditor general.

The nearly memo from Seals, he says, is a sign that commissioners chose to look the other way. 

"If the Wayne County Commission would have listened to their own advisors, they would have voted this down, he said.

"But if it wasn't for the cozy relationship that they had with the county executive at this time, the county would not be in this position."

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

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