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Robert Ficano recall, Wayne County, Michigan (2012)

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An effort to recall Brian Robert Ficano from his position as the Wayne County Executive was launched in October 2011.[1] Signature gathering efforts began in February 2012,[2] and the recall effort was abandoned in May 2012 after failing to gather enough signatures.[3] In late May 2012, recall supporters launched a second recall campaign against Ficano,[4] but no recall election took place.

Path to the ballot

In October 2011, Richard Convertino filed a petition at the Wayne County Clerk's office to have Ficano recalled from office. Convertino is the attorney for Ralph Kinney, who filed a whistle blower lawsuit against Ficano in 2010. Kinney says he was fired from his government position for talking to the FBI.[1]

The Wayne County Elections Commission examined the clarity of the recall petition language in a hearing on November 9.[5] The language was found to be sufficiently clear.[6] 140,000 signatures would have been needed to force a recall election. The signature submission deadline of May 8th passed without any signatures being submitted, signalling the end of the recall effort.[3]

Convertino said that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee promised to help gather signatures for the recall effort, but that union officials wouldn't return phone calls since Ficano gave them a contract that includes incentives not offered to other unions.[2]

On May 30, 2012, Convertino submitted recall petition language to the Wayne County Elections Commission, which approved petitions for circulation. Recall organizers had 90 days to gather 131,000 signatures. Convertino said his goal was to get the recall onto the November 2012 ballot, but "that's a tall order."[4] Sufficient signatures were not gathered, and no recall election took place.

Reasons for recall

The language of the recall petition said, "Ficano approved and permitted a severance payment of $200,000 to be paid to an appointed county official, Turkia Mullin, while demanding budget cuts for county departments and pay cuts for Wayne County union employees.”[7]

A former top Ficano aid, Tahir Kazmi, was charged with extortion, theft and obstruction of justice. Another aide, Michael Grundy, has been charged with taking kickbacks from contractors.[8] Ficano has repeatedly denied any knowledge of wrongdoing by his staffers. The FBI is currently investigating the Ficano administration for payments to former aides, ties between contractors and a former economic development director, a $300 million jail, the purchase of the Guardian Building, and contracts for information technology and suicide prevention.[2]

In March 2012, county commissioners Laura Cox and Bernard Parker announced that they would introduce a resolution in April asking Ficano to step aside. Another commissioner, Gary Woronchak, said "commissioners would be hard-pressed to vote 'no' because commissioners and the public is very angry."[8] The effort to pass an anti-Ficano resolution was later dropped.[9]

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References