Thursday, October 13, 2011
Yes, man was hired by Metro Airport, he testifies
BY JOHN WISELY
THE DETROIT (MI) FREE PRESS
Metro Airport CEO Turkia Awada Mullin said a payment for unused sick and leave days was standard procedure.
Timothy Taylor, the man who signed off on a second Wayne County severance payout to Turkia Awada Mullin, was indeed hired on a contract by Metro Airport, where she's now CEO.
At least that's what he said under oath in a Sept. 29 deposition obtained by the Free Press. His testimony appears to be at odds with airport assertions Tuesday that he never worked there.
At issue is whether Taylor's hiring at the airport was somehow tied to his approval of Mullin's county severance.
Taylor, the former human resources director for Wayne County, was testifying in a lawsuit filed by workers when asked about his work.
"I do have a contract not to exceed $10,000 with the Wayne County Airport Authority," Taylor testified. "It commenced about a month ago. I have spent about 21 hours there approximately. I haven't billed yet."
Taylor's statements are the latest explanation of his connection to Mullin.
• Early Tuesday afternoon, airport spokesman Timothy Johnson said Taylor was working on a contract basis on labor relations issues for the airport.
• Later in the afternoon, the airport released a statement from Mullin saying: "In mid-August, Tim was engaged as an independent contractor." It noted the purchase order was up to $10,000 and ended by saying, "Tim's work for" the airport "has since concluded."
• That evening, spokesman Scott Wintner said Taylor never did any work for the airport authority, never billed the airport and never got paid.
Asked about the discrepancy Wednesday, Wintner said that despite Taylor's testimony, there was no contract.
"No cash changed hands," Wintner said. "If he provided consultation, that's like a conversation that anyone could have with an expert."
Wintner acknowledged that Mullin played a role in selecting Taylor, but insisted plans to hire him were abandoned before Taylor did any work.
"Hiring Tim was her suggestion. It wasn't made in a vacuum, but the idea was driven by her," Wintner said.
Mullin said in a statement late Wednesday that taking a payment for unused sick and leave days was in keeping with "standard county administrative procedures as they were outlined to me when I left my former job."
Mullin did not respond to a question about Taylor.
Taylor didn't return a call to his home Wednesday.
Taylor's approval of sick and leave time payments to Mullin followed a controversy over a $200,000 severance Mullin received when she left the county in August for the airport job. She later agreed to return the $200,000 after public outcry.
The sick and leave payment was agreed to nine days after her $200,000 severance deal, which called for Mullin to get "no other wages, benefits or perquisites."
County commissioners learned of the second payout Tuesday from assistant county executive Alan Helmkamp, who is reviewing the matter.
Helmkamp said he didn't know the precise amount of the payment because it wasn't clear how many leave days Mullin cashed in. The 20 sick days were worth about $11,500 based on her $200,000 salary.
Taylor retired from Wayne County in April, but has worked part time since. He is paid an hourly rate "around 50 some odd dollars," according to his deposition.
Commissioners asked why Mullin's payout was approved by Taylor and not by his successor as human resources director, Georgetta Kelly.
Helmkamp said he didn't know, but the probe continues.