Airport authority fires CEO Turkia Awada Mullin, blaming her but not saying why; she vows to sue

By John Wisely and Jim Schaefer

Detroit Free Press


Oct. 31–Turkia Awada Mullin’s rocky two-month tenure ended abruptly this afternoon with a 5-2 vote to fire her, but board members wouldn’t say why.

Members of the Wayne County Airport Authority who voted to fire her said they did so with cause, citing a provision in her contract that defines cause as “dishonesty, theft, willful misconduct, breach of fiduciary duty or unethical business conduct which is injurious to the Authority in other than a de minimus manner.”

Pressed repeatedly to cite which one of those Mullin was guilty of, board members declined. Board member Suzanne Hall, who negotiated the contract with Mullin and made the motion to fire her, said, “My resolution is based on that sentence, that’s all I’m going to say.”

But board member Samuel Nouhan, who voted against firing Mullin, said he saw no reason for the firing.

“I have seen no evidence that Turkia Mullin violated any provisions of her employment contract,” Nouhan said.

Mullin, who sat silently throughout the proceeding, read a typed statement after her firing indicating she plans to seek the full payment of her contract, which her attorney Ray Sterling, estimated at $708,000.

“While the quality of my work has not been in question, nor I have not been accused of any wrongdoing, I now find my career coming to an unexpected, disappointing and abrupt halt,” Mullin said. “I am therefore seeking legal remedy.”

Mullin’s contract includes a provision that any disputes stemming from it are to be settled through arbitration, though her lawyer, Ray Sterling, said that he would explore all legal options.

“There are times when arbitration isn’t the best way to go,” he said.

Board member Bernard Parker, a Wayne County commissioner who also serves on the airport board, said afterward he believed the board had just cause to fire Mullin, but like Hall, he declined to say what it was.

A statement issued by the board later said, “This action was taken after consultation with Airport Authority counsel and after considering the information available to the board. The board will not discuss any further matters about her contract, which our legal counsel will address with her privately.”

Sterling said the board had already acted illegally by going into closed session without properly indicating what was to be discussed. Mullin was demanding a public airing of any complaints against her.

“They gave this woman no opportunity to explain any of her accomplishments,” Sterling said. Sterling clearly was irritated that the board wouldn’t give more specifics for the actions.

“Her career has been damaged,” he said.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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