DETROIT — Embattled Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano apologized to residents during his 10th State of The County address Wednesday at the Guardian Building here before a crowd of about 300.
"After 30 years of public service to the citizens of Wayne County — first as Sheriff and now as the Wayne County Executive — I should have had better oversight and for letting you down I apologize," Ficano said.
|“... I should have had better oversight and for letting you down I apologize.”|
He added that the last few months have been very painful for him because he's always had the people he serves best interest at heart. Ficano began the speech by putting much of the blame for findings of un-ethical practices in the county on former aides. He said the people he once placed great trust in, did not serve him or the people of Wayne County well this past year.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, and members of the Wayne County Commission among several other elected officials were present when Ficano spoke.
Ficano's speech primarily focused on investments and jobs the county has managed to attract. He said that in confronting the recession the county focused its entire attention on economic development, which has led to more than $7 billion in new investments since 2009.
He talked about his team working hard to approve a Brownfield plan for Ford to build its new Michigan assembly plant site in 2009, which resulted in an initial $500 million investment from Ford and retained 2,000 jobs. Then in 2010 Ford moved its battery pack assembly from Mexico to Wayne County creating another 1,000 jobs and $450 million in investments.
Ficano first started making trips to China in 2004 when there was only three Chinese companies in the county. He says now there's 17 Chinese companies invested in Wayne county and more then 50 have invested in Detroit.
"A lot of people challenged my vision of going to China to bring back jobs. But they didn't understand the economic potential to be found in building personal relationships with the Chinese to attract local investments," he said.
Ficano's administration has been in the media spotlight since the county's chief economic development officer Turkia Mullian received a 200,000 severance payment when she voluntarily leaving the county for a higher paying position. The action triggered the FBI to launch an investigation into the county which has led to more findings of wrongful conduct.
Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox recently asked Ficano to resign because of the scandals surfacing over his administration.
After hearing Ficano's speech she still believes it's time for him to step down. Ficano also claimed the county's budget finances were in good shape, but that's not true.
County commissioners Bernard Parker and Cox say the county recently borrowed $100 million.