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Judge Rules Airport Violated Law In Search For CEO

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Turkia Mullin, center (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell).

Turkia Mullin, center (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell).

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A judge has found there was a “clear violation” of Michigan law in the search for a Wayne County Airport Authority CEO that ended in Turkia Mullin’s appointment as airport director.

Wayne Circuit Judge Robert Colombo found multiple violations of the Open Meetings Act and issued an injunction against future violations. Columbo said,  that Mullin was hired legally. However, he said having an ad hoc committee conduct closed interviews, which led to the hiring, violated the act.

Union activist Robert Davis filed the lawsuit, alleging the violation. He said this is part of a “cover up” and a bigger picture he’s trying to expose showing that the Airport Authority had intended on hiring Mullin all along.

“In the coming days you will see that there were additional emails that clearly shows there was communication between members of the Airport Authority board that clearly indicated they wanted Turkia Mullin selected as the CEO for the airport,” Davis said. “There are other issues associated with this lawsuit today. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with legal analyst and WXYT-AM host Charlie Langton.

“The concept here is that you can’t have government done in secrecy,” explained Langton. “It’s gotta be transparent. It’s gotta be done in the open.” “People were talking behind closed doors, and/or they had this job for her already, Ok.  That violates the act.”

The board has issued a statement saying they believe they acted in compliance with the Open Meetings Act and that it was never their intention to violate the law.

Mullin’s attorney, Raymond Sterling, is also crying foul.

“All this speculation about a fix being in is totally unsubstantiated and kind of just made up out of thin air … just, probably, for media hype,” he told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Stephanie Davis.

Mullin took the airport job after resigning in September as Wayne County’s economic development director. Mullin was fired in October after board members returned from a closed-door meeting. A resolution calling for the firing pointed to a section in Mullin’s contract that dealt with dishonesty, theft, willful misconduct and breach of fiduciary duty.

There is open meetings case pending over Mullin’s firing. She is suing the Airport Authority, claiming it violated the act.

Mullin made headlines when received $200,000 in severance after leaving the county job, but later returned the money after coming under criticism.

So, what will happen next?

“Violation of open meeting act is a civil case. There’s no criminal sanctions. However, the attorney fees could be awarded, but that’d be about the only thing… costs and attorney fees,” sand Langton. “It’s not criminal, but it sure sounds really, really weird.”

“The judge basically has only two options,” said Langton. “One, force the board to come together to have a discussion of her merits in open, that’s one option. Or, invalidate what the board did (which) was hiring her.”

As of Friday, Judge Colombo had not yet rulled on that.

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