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Wayne Co. board approves Evans deputy appointment

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Wayne County Commission Thursday approved County Executive Warren Evans' appointment of a former circuit judge as deputy executive.

The 15-member commission unanimously approved Evans' request to approve Richard Kaufman as his deputy, effective April 1.

Kaufman will be paid a base salary of $143,329.

"As second-in-command, Mr. Kaufman is a key addition to my administration and I am confident that his wealth of knowledge and experience is vital as we face the county's financial crisis," Evans said in a statement.

Kaufman said even though he's been successful in the private, sector, his passion is the public sector and the pursuit of good government.

"I intend to provide constructive advice to the county's CEO in formulating policies to solve the county's financial crisis and to aid him in efficiently and competently administering the government of Wayne County," he said.

Commissioner Abdul "Al" Haidous, D-Wayne, said he's worked with Kaufman in the past and sees a person who has a lot experience working with the county officials.

"I see (in you) someone who is qualified to help us get the county moving in the right direction," Haidous told Kaufman.

Last month, Evans named former Wayne County Airport Authority official and attorney Genelle Allen as an assistant county executive.

Evans, who took office Jan. 5, previously had announced the appointments of chief of staff Rudy Hobbs, a former state representative; June Lee, who was chief of staff for former Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, as assistant county executive; and chief restructuring officer Tony Saunders.

Hobbs' salary is $140,600 while Allen, Lee and Saunders each earn $138,387.

The county executive has vowed to save taxpayers $1.2 million with fewer staff and lower salaries with an eye toward lowering the county's annual $30 million deficit.

He has said when all positions are filled, he expects to have 146 appointees — nine fewer than his predecessor, Robert Ficano. He also said all appointees' salaries will be reduced 5 percent.

Kaufman is the former Wayne County chief circuit judge and was elected to the court's bench in 1980. He served as a judge for 15 years. He worked as an attorney in private practice for 16, he said.

After Evans was elected county executive in November, he named Kaufman as part of his transition team.

Kaufman was also Evans' campaign manager for the election.