Michigan county exec cuts meals on wheels budget, pays massive severances

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Senior citizens in Wayne County, Mich., would rather eat cat food than the slop that currently passes for meals-on-wheels dinners provided by the county government. And WJBK-Fox 2 news reporter Charlie LeDuff found that the substandard food options were a consequence of Democratic county executive Bob Ficano’s overspending on perks for his own office.

Since September, Wayne County has been embroiled in scandal stemming from an enormous severance payment to the departing chief development officer. And between Ficano’s chauffered Cadillac and his private elevator — in the $47 million taxpayer-funded office building where he works — the red ink has swallowed up even the meager budget allotted to feeding the elderly and homebound.

“Bob’s spent a lot of your money,” LeDuff says in the segment that aired Nov. 8. “And if the feds are right, then the quarter-million dollar parting gift for Turkia Mullin is just the tip of the iceberg. But where did that money come from? Here’s one place: meals on wheels.”

In the past, meals sent to the county’s senior citizens were made each morning in Detroit. Now they’re “shipped in from a company in Jackson, Mississippi that also specializes in prison food,” explained LeDuff.

The price cut will reportedly save the county $138,000 a year, he explained, “almost exactly the same amount Bob’s pal Turkia got after taxes.”

LeDuff spent some time with county volunteers who deliver the meals. They were disgusted by the food, too.

“Say, Bob, why don’t we just feed them cat food? It’s only 50 cents at the store, retail. It’s full of animal byproducts, and,” says LeDuff, cracking open a can of cat food and trying a forkful, “it’s really not bad.”

“It probably is better than that,” says Larry, a multiple sclerosis patient, pointing to the slop.

Fat cat Ficano, of course, eats far better.

Ficano issued a statement saying his office was working to take care of the problem. But busy as he is cleaning house in his administration — three top staffers have been fired thus far, one in connection with an FBI probe — it remains to be seen when he’ll get around to it.


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Alexis Levinson