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Duggan spending on aides is fiscal ‘free-for-all’

Bryan Barnhill, Tom Lewand, Marcus Ways, Ninfa Cancel, Pamela Scales

Bryan Barnhill, Tom Lewand, Marcus Ways, Ninfa Cancel, Pamela Scales

By Zenobia Jeffries

The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration has an unsustainable, top-heavy operation, according to sources. As Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr takes the city through bankruptcy, Duggan has doubled the administrative staff by adding 60 new appointees to Bing’s staff and by paying salaries in excess of the city’s official compensation schedule.

Some Duggan aides are making upwards of $200,000 a year.

Mike Duggan

Mike Duggan

A “shocking free-for-all” is how one city employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the mayor’s hiring process. Duggan is paying high-cost salaries and creating new positions/departments such as “Chief Talent Officer” and “District Managers,” the source said and which documents obtained under freedom of information act verify.

The salaries of the mayor’s new appointees total approximately $5.5 million. It is unclear from where in the current fiscal budget the funds for these salaries are covered.

In a March interview with the Michigan Citizen, EM Orr said he adopted former mayor Dave Bing’s budget through the ordinary budget process. At that time, Bing had significantly reduced his staff.

Duggan’s appointees add to the employees carried over from the Bing administration and EM Orr’s staff.

The mayor postponed his April 14 budget presentation to the Council this week, citing the bankruptcy proceedings as reason for the delay. When Orr took over, Gov. Rick Snyder waived the state-mandated Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and none has been posted to date.

The city’s CFO John Hill told Council because the EM’s plan has yet to be presented, he did not believe it was appropriate to present a budget to Council at this time. Hill indicated the mayor’s budget will correspond with the EM’s plan.

The mayor is expected to present his budget May 9.

In the meantime, questions have been raised about the number of Duggan appointees, some of his selections, and the salaries of staff that exceed the city’s official compensation schedule for salaries.

For example, the new director of the Building Authority, David Manardo, who worked with Duggan during his time at the DMC as the corporate vice president of facility engineering and construction, is making $250,000. The deputy director, Jim Wright, makes $205,000.

In comparison, the former director, Beth Duncombe who was unappointed by Duggan, made $95,000.

The small department was “well-run,” with a “competent staff” under Duncombe, according to a former city employee. Duncombe was responsible for the new public safety headquarters project. Duncombe did not have a deputy director.

“I’m really worried about how we can afford this,” an employee said.

Duggan’s choice of Pamela Scales as budget director concerns many. Scales worked in the same capacity for the city for 13 years, 1999-2012, and could be considered part of the financial problem. During her tenure, according to some, she produced inflated and unrealistic budget projections.

In fact, Scales has been referred to by sources as “one of the architects of (the city’s) budget disaster.” As budget director her salary is $140,000.

In addition, the mayor’s new neighborhoods department has 14 executives: Each district manager makes $75,000 and each assistant district manager makes $48,000, except for Ninfa Cancel who makes $54,000.

Press secretary Alexis Wiley earns $100,000 which is an increase from the $75,000 budgeted for Bing’s press secretary.

Director of Faith-Based Affairs Marcus Ways makes $105,000. The assistant director, Terra DeFoe makes $75,000.

Former Mayor Bing got rid of his faith-based appointment, although Rev. Jim Holley maintains an office on the 11th floor, sources say.

Mayor Dave Bing also ended the 311 customer service center, yet, Duggan has appointed Adrian Tonon at $102,000 to the position.

The newly created position of Chief Talent Officer pays $104,000. This person, Bryan Barnhill, who was the mayor’s campaign manager, is a talent scout.

He recently talked about his responsibilities in an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business.

“I’m responsible for putting the right people in the right places to achieve our objectives. I focus on recruiting very talented people to occupy high-level roles in the administration,” he told Crain’s.

“How do we know we have enough revenue to cover this?” the employee asked. “Will we have to cut more to keep the mayor’s office appointments?”

The mayor’s office had not responded to questions for comment by time of publication.

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