Fired Land Bank director had PPO filed against him

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The former executive director of Detroit Land Bank, who was fired without public explanation last month, had a personal protection order filed against him by a subordinate the same day, records show.

Kevin Simowski was terminated Oct. 8, less than a year after taking the position. The same day, Mary C. Lewand-Monroe, then deputy director of the land bank, filed a personal protection order against Simowski in Wayne County Circuit Court. Judge Kevin J. Cox approved the order.

Lewand-Monroe, who goes by Carrie, is now the land bank’s acting executive director.

Lewand-Monroe, 38, alleged that on Oct. 7, Simowski, 58, parked outside of her Ann Arbor home, waiting for her to return from work. Her husband confronted Simowski, asking why he was there, according to the protection order.

“He mumbled something and then drove off,” the order read.

Police were called but said that since Lewand-Monroe wasn’t home at the time of the incident — only her husband and daughter were — nothing could be done.

The incident came a month after Simowski was placed on medical leave Sept. 1 and was instructed to not have any contact with land bank employees, according to a statement from Detroit Land Bank Authority chairwoman Erica Ward Gerson.

“Simowski was terminated for cause, and no severance was paid,” Gerson said in the statement. “Federal law requires the continuation of benefits for 90 days after the commencement of medical leave, and the Land Bank followed the Federal law. Simowski received the minimum benefits required by law, and nothing more. We otherwise cannot comment on personnel matters.”

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office declined comment on the personal protection order, which was first reported by the Motor City Muckraker.

Despite being told not to have contact with land bank employees, on the week of Sept. 21, Simowski called Lewand-Monroe on her office phone, according to the personal protection order. He told her about his medical leave, and Lewand-Monroe told him to not contact her.

“Over a period of six months prior to this call, there were numerous unwanted verbal contacts,” the order further reads.

Lewand-Monroe initially did not call the police, but said in court documents that Simowski’s behavior interfered with her employment “multiple times within the last six months.”

On Oct. 2, Simowski called Lewand-Monroe again on her office line. Lewand-Monroe notified the city but did not call the police.

“Kevin has continued this behavior after he was threatened by his employer to lose his job and severance pay. The unwanted contact and phone calls originated at my place of employment in the city of Detroit. It came to a head when he showed up at my home,” reads Lewand-Monroe’s statement in the order.

Lewand-Monroe’s personal protection order against Simowski remains in effect through Oct. 8, 2016.

Duggan has not discussed why Simowski was let go, saying only that the land bank board makes hiring and firing decisions.

The firing came at a time Duggan was defending the city’s demolition efforts in the wake of a scathing report centered on the bid process, costs and true progress of the program. There were also calls for an audit of the Detroit Building Authority and land bank’s demolition activities.