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Ficano announces ethics reforms in wake of FBI probe

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has announced changes in how the county deals with ethical issues. The county is under a federal corruption investigation into cronyism and influence peddling.

The Wayne County Executive’s troubles began when it was learned Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s new boss was given a $200,000 severance package when she left another county job.

The FBI is looking into that payout. It’s also investigating allegations of special deals with contractors and political pressure on employees to support Ficano.

Craig Ruff is with Public Sector Consultants. He says new ethics rules are fine, but they may not be enough.

"Unless you have the force of the law behind you, all the pronouncements of ethical reform are pretty week," Ruff says. "The Wayne County Board of Commissioners should pass reform legislation -- it can't be just by executive order of the county executive."

Ruff says he believes one of the biggest problems under Ficano's leadership has been "a very cozy" relationship between high-ranking  employees and contractors who do business with  the county.

The new rules announced by Ficano Thursday forbid appointees from supervising relatives, but don’t ban hiring them.

Ficano’s office did not respond to interview requests.