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"Editorial: Dismiss Mullin to protect airport's reputation"
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Editorial: Dismiss Mullin to protect airport's reputation
The appearance of cronyism in director's appointment casts cloud over
The Detroit (MI) News
Turkia Mullin is too tainted by ethical questions to continue serving as
head of Wayne County-Detroit Metropolitan Airport. In the interest of
protecting the reputation of this vital statewide resource, and of restoring
its own credibility, the airport authority should remove Mullin and start a
new search for a new director using a more transparent process.
Since Mullin took over as airport director last month, she's been enmeshed
in controversy that began with her extraordinary $200,000 severance package
and now has grown to include concerns about her dealings with a member of
the search committee that recommended her hiring.
The whiff of cronyism surrounding Mullin's appointment is impossible to
In a series of articles this week, The Detroit News reported that Mullin was
selected as airport director by a board beholden to Wayne County Executive
Robert Ficano over five other candidates who had airport management
experience. Mullin, the former director of development for Wayne County, had
What she did have was close ties to Ficano, and to his top deputy, Azzam
Elder. And as The News reports today, she also was connected to Charlie
Williams, a Ficano appointee to the airport board and former deputy county
Mullin, The News reports, handled the land deal for the new Wayne County
Jail that gained Williams' real estate company $420,000 in brokerage fees.
Williams was on the search committee that later recommended Mullin for the
An airport board less politically motivated would recognize that Mullin can
no longer effectively serve as the face of the facility.
As we noted in an editorial earlier this week, the seven-member authority
was created a decade ago by former Gov. John Engler and the late Wayne
County Executive Edward McNamara to purge Metro Airport of political
interference from Wayne County.
Ten years of good management has restored the airport's image. The Mullin
scandal threatens to undo that good work and return the airport to the bad
old days when it was mired in corruption and cronyism.
Mullin is well spoken of by those who deal with her at the airport. But her
judgment in the severance situation and her political connections raise
serious concern that she'll reopen the doors of the airport to political
meddling by Wayne County officials. By stacking the authority with
loyalists, Ficano signals his desire to gain greater control of the airport
than the legislation creating the authority envisioned.
This would be a good time to revisit that legislation.
The authority can't afford to allow the airport to be seen as a political
arm of the Wayne County executive's office, as it was under McNamara.
To protect the airport's reputation, Mullin should go.
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