LeDuff: 'Fi-nocchio' and the new Wayne County jail - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

LeDuff: 'Fi-nocchio' and the new Wayne County jail

Posted: Updated:
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Wayne County Pictures presents the sad story of a politician who couldn't add and who couldn't quite tell the truth.  Robert A. Ficano stars as "Fi-nocchio."

Now back in 2011, our wooded-headed county executive announced the groundbreaking on a $300 million super jail.  But what the county executive didn't seem to understand was the total bill was going to be more than half a billion dollars after interest.

"At this point, it's projected to be a little bit out or around 300," Ficano said then.

"300, but with interest over 30 years, it's more than a half a billion," I said.

"No," Ficano replied.

How in the world can Wayne County afford that when it's broke?  Way back when Fi-nocchio told us we were going to break even by closing all the other jails and putting everybody into the super jail.  He even gave us a one page financial analysis to prove it.

"We can trust that there's going to be savings off of this?" I asked.

"Sure," Ficano said.

Now the crickets have come home to roost because they ran out of money to build the new super jail and the County Commission won't give Fi-nocchio any more.  So what have they done?  They stopped work.  They are redesigning it to cut off 200 beds for prisoners.  So all that savings that was going to pay for it is out the window because we've got to keep the other jail open.  That means we're all going to pay through the nose.

We caught up with Fi-nocchio to get an explanation.

"It was never big enough in the first place," I said.

"How about Hamtramck?" Ficano replied.

"You're going to leave it open, but the whole deal was to close them," I said.

"Where'd it say that?" Ficano asked.

"You said that," I answered.

"When?" Ficano responded.

"The savings were going to be realized in closing the jail," I said.

"We said we're going to be able to rent out Division 3," Ficano said.

Funny, that's news to Sheriff Benny Napoleon, who said the plan was to consolidate all the jails, including Hamtramck, which is also known as Dickerson or Division 3.

John Rakolta, the contractor, also said the three jails would be folded into one.

Even Bob said it back in 2011 when they broke ground.  "The facility will consolidate prisoners from the two downtown jails, as well as the Hamtramck jail."

Ask the Wayne County commissioners who voted to build the new jail and close all the other jails.

"We have to close Dickerson or we lose money," said Commissioner Kevin McNamara. "We'll be more than $30 million in debt if we don't close Dickerson."

"The jails were all going to be closed, and they're all going to be consolidated.  I guess they've scaled the size of the new jail down from close to 2,200 beds to 2,000 beds," said Gary Woronchak, commission chairman.

"So we're going to keep Hamtramck open now?" I asked Ficano.

"We always said we were going to keep Hamtramck open," he responded.

"There's no comment on the jail right now because there's a lot of options on the jail we just can't talk about," he added.

"Well, we've run out of money, right, so we've got to make it smaller?" I asked.

"Not at all," Ficano answered.

"They came to us about a year ago and asked for an additional $60 million saying they left out things like furniture and technology, and they wanted to increase the bed size.  We said absolutely not.  You increase the bed size and you increase the bond, you wipe out all of the savings to the taxpayer," McNamara said.

"It has 200 less probably because Detroit isn't going to be part of the project," said Ficano.

"So we're sawing that off?" I asked.

"At this point because Detroit wouldn't sign the contract, it's not going to be part of the jail," he replied.

"Wayne County Commission was not, as I recall, aware that Detroit was going to be a big part of this plan anyway," Woronchak said.

"The commission didn't act with Detroit's money in mind," McNamara said.

In fact, Detroit made a cheap deal with the state to house it's arrestees at the old Mound Correctional Facility.  You remember the Mound facility, the place we told you about last year that the county could've bought for a buck.

In the end, we don't know how much this boondoggle will cost, and remember just across the street from the new jail sits the half empty old jail.  In the meantime, the feds have a magnifying glass on this deal studying the relationship between the contractors and the county officials who were supposed to be looking out for your family's best interest.  Bob just doesn't seem to get it.

"We've got to know.  This could affect people's grandchildren, Bob," I said.

"Come on, don't be overly dramatic," he said.

"Yes, people's grandchildren, but people right now, $30 million a year," McNamara said.

"The jail is being scheduled and whatever we're going to do is going to be announced in June," Ficano said.

And that Wayne County taxpayer is how our little fairy tale has bloomed into a great big nightmare.

Ficano says the county is planning to rent some of the Hamtramck jail beds to the federal government for its prisoners.  I called the feds who would be involved with this.  Nobody had any idea what Ficano is talking about.

  • Charlie LeDuffCharlie LeDuffMore>>

  • LeDuff: Where is the respect for the real hosts of the Super Bowl?

    LeDuff: Where is the respect for the real hosts of the Super Bowl?

    Super Bowl XLVIII is in New York.  Well, not exactly.  The Super Bowl's host city is actually East Rutherford, N.J.  Sometimes it's hard to get respect in America if you're not from places like NYC or LA.
    Super Bowl XLVIII is in New York.  Well, not exactly.  The Super Bowl's host city is actually East Rutherford, N.J.  Sometimes it's hard to get respect in America if you're not from places like Los Angeles., Washington, D.C. or New York.  If you live in New Jersey, you're in the shadow of the Big Apple.
  • Ground Zero of the North Dakota Oil Boom

    Ground Zero of the North Dakota Oil Boom

    Friday, March 7 2014 12:11 PM EST2014-03-07 17:11:13 GMT
    In another installment of The Americans with Charlie LeDuff, Charlie and his crew head to Williston, North Dakota, where the oil boom is making the small town the epicenter of opportunity and big city problems.
    Tens of thousands of Americans are drifting into places like Williston, North Dakota where the oil boom is making the small town the epicenter of opportunity.

    If you're willing to work 100 hours a week you could make $100,000 in a year.  Along with opportunity there are problems and a changing landscape to small town life that's as harsh as winter on the northern planes.
  • LeDuff: Detroit's bankruptcy is helping police do their jobs

    LeDuff: Detroit's bankruptcy is helping police do their jobs

    Friday, March 7 2014 11:46 AM EST2014-03-07 16:46:27 GMT
    Detroit police are doing better because less money is being paid to creditors and more is being invested in police services. Go on an exclusive ride to see how the fight on crime is getting new support.
    Detroit is a godforsaken place.  Everyone knows that.  Detroit is a mess, no doubt. Here's the thing: some of the factors that put Detroit $18 billion in debt could be factors in your town. Cities all over the country are struggling to pay for health care and retiree pensions. They're seeing revenues from property taxes and sales taxes drop as they try to pay for expensive projects that were approved before the recession.
  • Charlie LeDuff: Off The ChainCharlie LeDuff: Off The ChainMore>>

  • Sayonara Bingaling

    Sayonara Bingaling

    Friday, December 13 2013 7:35 PM EST2013-12-14 00:35:18 GMT
    LeDuff: From my perch, I can say Bing was a mayor who preferred to get his nails polished but never dirty.
    LeDuff: From my perch, I can say Bing was a mayor who preferred to get his nails polished but never dirty.
  • LeDuff goes inside massive Detroit Police raid

    LeDuff goes inside massive Detroit Police raid

    Tuesday, December 3 2013 7:57 PM EST2013-12-04 00:57:27 GMT
    On Tuesday, police in Detroit teamed up with Michigan State Police and federal law enforcement officers to conduct a massive raid the size of a city block.
    On Tuesday, police in Detroit teamed up with Michigan State Police and federal law enforcement officers to conduct a massive raid the size of a city block.
  • Is this the crest of dawn in this thing we call a city?

    Is this the crest of dawn in this thing we call a city?

    Friday, November 8 2013 6:12 PM EST2013-11-08 23:12:53 GMT
    LeDuff: Darkness Rules. And then on a corner of a street called Crusade, a case of what should be considered normal becomes the extraordinary:a streetlight gets repaired. And the curtains get pulled back from the iron door.
    LeDuff: Darkness Rules. And then on a corner of a street called Crusade, a case of what should be considered normal becomes the extraordinary: a streetlight gets repaired. And the curtains get pulled back from the iron door.
Powered by WorldNow

25 FOX Drive
Dedham, MA 02026

Phone (781) 467-2525

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices