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Friday, October 18, 2013

NERD Fund Consultant Baird Becomes a State Employee, as Criticism Swells on Gov. Snyder's EM Strategy

Photo Credit -
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr (L) and Michigan Governor
Rick Snyder (R) at the conclusion of a March 2013 Press Conference
announcing Orr's appointment
After months of criticism on how state consultant and self entitled transformation manager Richard Baird was paid by secret donors of the non-profit NERD Fund, Baird has been hired as State of Michigan employee.

MLIVE reported the change in former Baird's employment status Friday, October 18th.

"Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has added "transformation manager" Rich Baird to the state payroll, ending an unusual arrangement that had raised eyebrows. 
Baird, who has worked as a top aide to Snyder since he took office in 2011, was previously paid through private contributions to the nonprofit New Energy To Reinvent and Diversify Fund (NERD Fund). 
Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel confirmed Friday that Baird is now officially a state employee. He'll be paid a $140,000 salary, up from the $100,000 a year he had earned as a consultant but in line with other senior administration staffers."
As a consultant, Baird was the point man in a controversial series of emails reported by The Michigan Citizen. 

Photo Credit - The Detroit Free Press
Former NERD Fund Transformation Manager, now
State of Michigan Employee, Richard Baird
The emails described how Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr would be hired and the terms declaring Michigan largest city bankrupt, well before the public was aware of Orr then pending appointment. Detroit Mayoral Candidate Mike Duggan was advised by Richard Baird and Governor Rick Snyder on Orr's pre-selection status.

Photo Credit - MLIVE
Candidate for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
Baird employment status change comes after strong criticism in the past two weeks of if Governor Rick Snyder Emergency Management strategy overall effectiveness. Governor Rick Snyder, signed into law two measures granting the State the ability control a municipally, county or school district fiscal and operational resources with repealed legislation Public Act 4 of 2011 and current law Public Act 436 of 2012.

Former State Treasurer Andy Dillon, who led the States' Emergency Manager Financial Review Board declaring municipalities and state public school districts fiscally insolvent, resigned last Friday. 
Photo Credit -
Former State of Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon
The Motorcity Mudracker reported in June 2013 Dillon checked into a undisclosed alcohol rehabilitation facility in early January after several years of heavy drinking. Dillon problems continued as The Detroit News reported in late August a recorded 911 call where his ex-wife Carol Owens-Dillon accused the former State Treasurer had assaulted her.
"The call was then disconnected. Owens-Dillon called back a short time later and said: “My ex-husband Andy Dillon just came to my house and tried to grab my arms. I need to make a police report on him. He’s not supposed to be coming anywhere near me.” 
Owens-Dillon told the Free Press that Dillon grabbed her wrists, leaving marks, and twisted her arms during a struggle for his government-issued mobile phone outside the family home."
Dillon's resignation from his former State Treasurer position Friday, October 11th, was announced one day after giving testimony in a deposition at bequest of one of the City Union ASFCME Council 25 challenge to Detroit's Federal Bankruptcy filing.  

On Tuesday, October 15th, Governor Rick Snyder appointed former head Michigan's Insurance and Financial Services division created last year, Kevin Clinton as State Treasurer after Dillon's Friday, October 10th resignation. Clinton, who has a background as an actuary, told Reuters his plans for the State Treasurer position include drafting new mathematical models predicting in advance fiscal emergencies for municipalities and school districts in Michigan.
"We want to stop the need for emergency managers," Clinton stated.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who initially supported Governor Rick Snyder and former State Treasurer Andy Dillon plans to impose State-Managed and Controlled Emergency Management in Michigan's largest city, publicly switched his position.

Photo Credit -
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
During his deposition related to Detroit's Bankruptcy filing, Bing criticized Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's incompetence to turnaround the City's issues.
“My big concern there is at some point in time we will come out of bankruptcy, and if you don’t have the people internally that know the system and you have all these consultants doing the job that city employees ought to be doing, when Kevyn leaves ... you haven’t developed anybody to run the city on a day-to-day basis,” Bing said in a deposition related to the bankruptcy filing obtained by the Detroit News. 
“That’s my biggest concern. We don’t even have a line item in our budget for training. Somebody’s got to get trained to do these jobs on a long-going basis.”
Anthony Ullman, an attorney representing a committee of Detroit retirees asked Bing about the contents of a July 10th email from former state-appointed program manager Kriss Andrews, during the Mayor's deposition. In the email, Andrews gave Orr high marks for addressing Detroit’s long-term liabilities but blasted the emergency manager for failing to change how the city operates, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“Mr. Andrews’ conclusion is that the emergency manager, and I quote, threw away the head start we gave him, he frankly is not competent at all,” Ullman said while reading the email to Bing during this deposition. “In fact, he’s embarrassingly incompetent and only listened to his equally incompetent staff and (does) not well exercise the added powers he had. So Mr. Andrews gives him an A in long-term liabilities and an F in operations,” Ullman added. 
Bing responded: “I’m not going to give (Orr) a grade from A to F in either one of those areas, but I would agree that his strength was in dealing with the long-term liabilities and not operations.” 
Ullman added while depositing Mayor Bing: “(In) Mr. Andrews’ view is that he’s (Kevyn Orr) not doing a competent job in the restructuring aspect and the operational aspect. Did you agree with that?” 
“Yes, I would,” Detroit Mayor Bing said.
Detroit's former Chief Financial Officer Jim Bonsall, appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, resigned on Tuesday, October 15th after a uproar over racially intensive comments invoking the Trayvon Martin murder case out of Stanford, Florida.

Photo Credit -
Former Detroit Emergency Management Appointed,
Chief Financial Officer Jim Bonsall
Bonsall was initially suspended with pay pending an investigation, after he inquired his ability to "shoot someone in a hoodie on Angel's Night" in Detroit.

Detroit Treasurer Cheryl Johnson, who is African-American, first reported the allegations in letter to Mayor Dave Bing and other city officials claiming that former City CFO Bonsall, a Caucasian, treated minority women unfairly. The allegations were first reported by The Michigan Citizen newspaper.

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