Detroit land bank demolition program director resigns

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The program director for the land bank’s federally funded demolition effort has resigned, the authority confirmed Thursday.

Rebecca Camargo is stepping down from the post “for other opportunities,” said Craig Fahle, a spokesman for the Detroit Land Bank Authority. She tendered her resignation last week and it will be effective Sept. 1, he said.

The high-ranking departure is the latest in recent months for the land bank, which is currently at the center of a federal criminal investigation into the city’s demolition activities. The probe is among several federal, state and local reviews.

Camargo, a former Wayne County prosecutor, has worked with the land bank since 2014 and formerly assisted with its nuisance abatement and drug house programs. She could not be immediately reached Thursday for comment.

“We thank her for her time,” said Fahle of Camargo, who took the director job earlier this year. “She’s been a great asset to the land bank for over three years. We wish her well.”

The demolition program came under scrutiny in fall 2015 amid concerns over bidding practices and soaring costs. The land bank oversees Detroit’s blight elimination along with the Detroit Building Authority. More than 12,000 blighted homes have been demolished under the program since May 2014.

Camargo was named program director in mid-January, replacing Pura Bascos, who resigned. Officials at the time said Bascos was stepping down to return to her family in New Orleans. Days later, land bank compliance manager Martha Delgado left the blight reduction program for undisclosed reasons.

The departures came after former building authority deputy director Jim Wright, who oversaw the blight removal program, abruptly resigned in August 2016.

Bascos and Delgado were among 14 current and former employees listed on subpoenas from the Office of the Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program received by the land bank last year requesting documents pertaining to federally funded contracts and several demolition contractors.

The land bank’s deputy general counsel, Tammy Daniels, will step in as the interim director, Fahle said.

A permanent replacement will be determined by the land bank’s new executive director, Saskia Thompson, who is slated to join the authority Sept. 5. Thompson, a Detroit native who formerly served as deputy finance director for the city of Philadelphia, was selected for the $150,000-a-year position following a national search.

Prior executive director Carrie Lewand-Monroe announced her departure in March to take on a consulting role with the agency as well as private development work. Lewand-Monroe had joined the land bank in 2014 and became its executive director in December 2015.