The chief executive for Detroit Metropolitan Airport has been fired only two months into the job, following a messy severance deal over her former job as economic development director for Wayne County.
The Wayne County Airport Authority voted 5-2 Monday to relieve Turkia Mullin of her duties and terminate her three-year contract. The board said there is a clause in her contract that states she can be fired for theft, dishonesty and unethical business practices. They did not elaborate on which triggered their decision.
"Really the thing that weighed on me was her ability to continue to run the airport with all the distractions that are taking place," said board member Bernard Parker.
Mullin and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano have been under fire since news broke in September that Mullin was given a $200,000 severance when she left her position with the county to take charge of the airport. Mullin later agreed to repay it and last week gave the county a check for the after-tax amount of $135,900.
"I feel compelled to express my disappointment in the way matters have evolved. Clearly, questions surrounding my severance package should not have resulted in my wrongful termination," Mullin said in a statement. "When I was hired for the position approximately sixty days ago, I was called an ?excellent choice? and approved unanimously by the seven-member Wayne County Airport Authority. While the quality of my work has not been in question, nor I have not been accused of any wrong doing, I now find my career coming to an unexpected, disappointing and abrupt halt."
Mullin and her attorney, Raymond Sterling, said they would seek the remainder of her contract with the airport authority, which is $708,000.
"I welcome any evidence of anything that she has done illegal and unethical. If there were such a thing, I think they would have said it here today," Sterling said.
Ficano has said protocols weren't followed in the severance deal. He suspended two officials involved in the deal and fired a contract worker. He released a statement Monday evening on Mullin's firing.
"Today's actions by the Airport Board were painful, but done to end the distraction surrounding the Airport Director, Ms. Turkia Awada Mullin," Ficano said in the statement. "Nobody saw the issues ending anytime soon. It's unfortunate that the promise I have seen in Ms. Mullin and her visions for Aerotropolis will not come to fruition under her watch. Ms. Mullin is a strong woman with many accomplishments and her drive and determination is unparalleled. The board must move on. They are a competent body, and will do their due diligence in finding a successor."
The FBI is investigating Mullin's initial Wayne County severance deal.
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