Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanks for the Memories

Politics is like good comedy: timing is everything.

Only, what's been going on in Wayne County politics is less comedy and more tragedy.

But timing still is everything.

Oh, how much more interesting would the election for County Executive have been had the Turkia Mullin severance scandal occurred last year instead of this year?

The Little Italian General, Bob Ficano, still likely would have won over his opponent, Republican Mario Fundarski, but the interesting part would have been to see how much less of a margin Ficano would have triumphed.

Or, what if the Mullin scandal hit the news in the spring of 2010? Then maybe a more formidable candidate would have had time to emerge to take on the LIG.

But alas, the cesspool that is the Wayne County political machine is being exposed in full view now, in 2011, some three years before the next County Executive election.

The question now is, how long will voters' memories be in 2014?

A recent poll indicates that 47 percent of likely county Democratic voters contacted by phone want the LIG to resign.

Forty-seven percent! Nearly half.

But that's today, some three years before voters go to the polls to choose who will be the County Exec from 1/1/2015 to 12/31/2018.

How many of those 47 percent will be as enraged in three years?

The severance scandal, which is actually a misnomer because it's more of a "Ficano" scandal, is getting a lot of play. It has the looks of something that could stick to the LIG like flypaper.

Maybe even for three years.

The latest casualty is someone who the FBI ought to devote at least a weekend to: Assistant County Executive Michael Grundy, who was given the ziggy by Ficano last night.

Grundy is the dude who was suspended last month after a contractor told FBI agents that Grundy regularly called if she was late with payments to a company affiliated with one of his associates.

When Grundy wasn't shaking down honest employees for kickbacks, he was trying to strong arm a state legislator into not pursuing the Mullin investigation in Lansing.

Oops, I should have added "allegedly" to the above paragraph.

Grundy is a piece of work. When I was working for the County Commission in 2010, I heard some things about Grundy that usually involved him being a heavy in the Ficano administration, in some way, shape or form.

The FBI could have a field day investigating Michael Grundy.


Michael Grundy


Also on Monday, the chairwoman of the Airport Authority---the same bunch who fired Mullin as airport CEO last week---resigned from her post.

That would be Renee Axt, who "axed" herself. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why.

Axt's consulting firm, RCP Associates, is among those named in FBI subpoenas served on the county last month. The feds are investigating not only the $200,000 severance Mullin received in September for serving as the county's economic development chief, but also Mullin's ties to a nonprofit economic development group.

Axt served on the board of that nonprofit, which paid Mullin a $75,000 bonus.

Yeah, that's right.

This has caused the FBI to start rubbing their chins and pursing their lips. And when they start doing that, the cockroaches tend to skitter away from the light.

It's all well and good that Ficano fired Grundy. It gives one hope that the LIG realizes the depth of his fall from grace. It's not good political strategy to piss off nearly half of your voting base to the point that they want you to quit, right then and there.

This severance thing has been in the papers for over a month now. That's an eternity in County politics. That kind of time on the front page had been reserved for the Kwame Kilpatricks of the world, when it comes to local news.

Even the editorial folks at the Free Press and The News have been hostile to the LIG lately. And that never happens.

Still, the question begs: Will any of this be relevant in 2014, when it really matters?

Or is this scandal just the tip of the iceberg to Ficano's Titanic?

Regardless, you can bet that whoever chooses to run against the LIG in 2014 will do all he or she can to refresh people's memories.

They might not even need it.

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