Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano (Max Ortiz/The Detroit News)
Detroit — Wayne County commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday on a $55,000 contract that would pay a retired sheriff's deputy to drive and provide security for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
The retroactive contract would run January through September for Star Fighters LLC, a company created by Fred Berry in 2010. Berry started working for the Wayne County Sheriff's department in 1978. He moved to the executive staff in 2003 after Ficano became county executive. He retired in 2011 and receives $105,000 a year through his pension.
Berry defended the proposal on Monday, stressing his experience with law enforcement as well as training in homeland security and executive office protection details.
"I'm not just a driver, I'm part of the security team," Berry said.
Berry would be one of three people tasked with chauffeuring Ficano. He said he would most likely be involved in those duties two or three times a month. The contract also calls for him to work for the Department of Children and Family Services Alternative Work Force program. The program is for people convicted of crimes to provide community service and avoid jail time.
At least one commissioner is questioning the proposal. Ilona Varga, D-Lincoln Park, said the creation of the limited liability company is a way to skirt rules that limit a retiree from working for more than 1,000 hours for the county.
"I'm concerned about people coming back after they retire and forming an LLC to go around the law," said Varga, who chairs the county's public safety, judiciary and homeland security committee. "I'm concerned about a lot of the contracts that are coming through here that are no-bid contracts. I will be voting no on this. We have to stop the madness."
The Department of Children and Family Services would pay $47,346, with Ficano's office paying for the remainder of the $55,000.
Ficano's office said Star Fighters LLC is "uniquely qualified" for the job "and brings a wealth of unique knowledge" via its experience with the county, homeland security, working with road patrol deputies and investigations.