June 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm

More emails hint Mullin had edge for airport job

Headhunter was sent resume before hiring to find CEO hopefuls

Mullin )

Nearly two weeks before Jack Krasula was hired to conduct a search for a new Detroit Metropolitan Airport CEO, Turkia Mullin sent her resume and biography to him, emails obtained by The Detroit News show.

For critics, the revelation adds to the accusations that Mullin had an inside edge for the post and that Krasula's Southfield firm, Trustinus, was hired to engineer her selection.

Mullin, then Wayne County's chief economic officer, reached out to Krasula on her county email on June 28, 2011 — the day after an ad hoc airport committee first met to talk about hiring a search firm. The committee would review three bids and wouldn't select Trustinus for a $50,000 contract until July 11.

"I'm not surprised at all," said attorney Drew Paterson, who has sued the Wayne County Airport Authority three times over its handling of Mullin's hiring.

Mullin had known Krasula long before he ran the job search: Her county department developed 320 acres in Huron Township for the Pinnacle Race Course that Krasula operated, selling the land for $1 after investing $26 million in taxpayer-funded infrastructure improvements. The track closed in 2010 after two years of races.

"What kind of deal is that?" Paterson said. "He owed her big time."

Before the three-member search committee interviewed finalists, Trustinus crafted a matrix that ranked job candidates based on a number of factors — including local connections, "operations" experience and government interaction. Mullin scored the highest, getting a 58 out of a possible 60 points, well above candidates with airport experience.

Critics have complained about an apparent effort to grease a path for Mullin to move from the county economic development department to the airport. Other emails show that airport job seekers reached out to Mullin before she interviewed for the CEO post. Others reveal how county employees helped her prepare for interviews and craft an essay that was supposed to be a surprise test for candidates.

The FBI is investigating the search as part of a larger probe into county corruption.

"It's awfully fishy all this stuff was being done in the same time period," said Denis Martin, president of AFSCME Local 1862, which represents airport workers. "It was an inside deal."

Ray Sterling, Mullin's attorney, said she did not mention the airport job in her resume or biography and suggested she possibly was responding to a request from Krasula for her resume.

He has filed suit for Mullin against the airport authority, challenging its Oct. 31 decision to fire her. She is seeking up to $700,000.

"Headhunters like Krasula are always on the hunt for candidates and have their ear close to the ground for any potential leads or jobs where they can make a lot of money by having the right person in their stable," he said.

"They keep a lot of resumes on file in case opportunities like this arise."

After the airport board voted unanimously in August to hire Mullin for the $250,000 post, news that Mullin had gotten a $200,000 severance package from the county touched off outrage and revealed a federal corruption probe into Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's administration. Four former aides have been charged with shaking down contractors or obstructing justice.

Ficano spokeswoman Brooke Blackwell declined comment, as did Chris Andreoff, Krasula's attorney.

After participating in the search, one of the airport CEO hopefuls wrote a letter to Trustinus, questioning the fairness of the process that led to Mullin's hiring.

"After the CEO sham and fiasco, I would suggest changing the name of your firm," one finalist wrote the company.

mwilkinson@detnews.com

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