2016 State of the County Address

Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome tonight to this fabulous
venue—one of our County’s great public spaces— to tell you about the State of
our County. I extend my appreciation to Salvador Salort-Pons, Director of the
Detroit Institute of Arts for serving as our host this evening. Permit me to
specially recognize my fellow County executives who have honored me
tonight with their presence. From Oakland County, L. Brooks Patterson. And
from Macomb County, Mark Hackel. I’d also like to thank those of you listening
at home for taking the time to hear some encouraging news about Wayne
Shortly after my election I gathered my campaign staff to talk about the
transition. I knew finding expertise in finance would be critical to solving
Wayne County’s problems. Also I knew we needed a subcommittee on
finance, and I knew that Committee would likely be the most important. We
talked about who should be on that subcommittee and I kept pushing one
particular name. My campaign staff was wary of this person because he was a
Republican and he worked for Brooks Patterson.
What would people say, if a Democrat County Executive asked for such help? I
ended the argument. Here’s what people would say, “We are interested in
good government and don’t care where we get the information or expertise to
accomplish it.” So I directed my campaign manager to call this person to ask
him to serve on this subcommittee. He was flattered and surprised. He was
willing to do it, if it was okay with Brooks. By then I had decided that I wanted
him to Chair this committee. I called Brooks and Brooks agreed.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
This person spent countless hours providing his expertise to this critical
transition issue and Wayne County will always be grateful to him. Although he
could not be here tonight, ladies and gentlemen, please recognize, Deputy
Oakland County Executive, Bob Daddow. Thank you Brooks.
Last year I chose not to deliver a traditional State of the County Address.
Wayne County faced critical issues: Could Wayne County avoid an emergency
manager and bankruptcy? Could Wayne County recover from the public’s loss
of faith and trust in its ability to deliver an honest and competent
government? I frankly wasn’t ready to answer these questions.
Instead, throughout the year I visited with residents, community groups, faith
leaders, business owners, and others, from Grosse Pointe to Detroit and from
Taylor to Belleville. I shared with them the critical problems the County faced.
It was important for me to let them know I planned to meet the County’s
challenges head-on. I told them solutions would require sacrifice, but I would
do my best to make certain it was a shared sacrifice.
A year later, as I begin my 15th month as County Executive, I am pleased to
report, that while many obstacles remain, the worst of our problems are in the
past. I can’t quite tell you that the State of the County is great. I can, however,
say that the state of the County has stabilized, it continues to improve, and
that our best days lie ahead.
The first thing I had to do as County Executive was identify all of the major
problems facing Wayne County. While major financial problems existed, other
critical problems, also, needed to be addressed.
Many County facilities were in horrible shape. We had a partially-completed
jail that would cost hundreds of millions to finish. We had existing jails that
were falling apart. The Lincoln Hall of Justice, where our juvenile offenders
are adjudicated and treated, needed replacement years ago.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, housing the Criminal Division of the Wayne
County Circuit Court and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, required
either replacement or tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure
improvements and renovations. And the settlement of a lawsuit required the
County to build the Wayne Circuit Court a new courthouse. Finally, the
purchase of the Guardian Building was a huge financial mistake.
Compounding this mistake was vacant office space at the Guardian Building
while the County owned or leased expensive space in other buildings.
Even if, somehow, we could, magically, solve all of Wayne County’s financial
problems, these facilities problems remained.
Unfortunately, finances and facilities weren’t the only problems. A lack of
cooperation between the County Executive and other County elected officials
existed. For too long the County Executive didn’t understand, that the
County’s problems could not be solved through confrontation.
But the Sheriff, Prosecutor, and Wayne Circuit Court had sued the County
Executive and the County claiming that their budgets were inadequate. The
County spent hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for attorneys on both
sides of these cases. And these lawsuits provided only the illusion, that a judge
could actually issue an opinion that could solve the County’s budget problems
and adequately fund these Offices. I was intent on changing that culture. To
solve the County’s problems, we needed to work together.
Yet, another major problem was the poor delivery of services in many areas.
Far too common was low employee morale. Employees had given concessions
to solve problems that never got solved, while executives received
extravagant pensions. And if the goal was to provide efficient, quality County
services, then the existing organizational chart didn’t make that possible.
Adding to inefficiencies, were the County’s antiquated purchasing systems,
inadequate employee training and an economic development model of
grandiose announcements that never lived up to the hype.

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
So confronted with the County’s financial mess, it’s unfinished and
dilapidated facilities, the institutional animosity between the County
Executive and other elected County Officers and its poor delivery of services, I
thought seriously about taking Brooks Patterson’s advice. When asked, “Did
he have any advice for me as the new County Executive of Wayne County?” He
responded, “Yes, ask for a recount.”
But I didn’t and I went to work developing solutions. Wayne County’s
problems could not be solved in one year. But as we worked on one issue, we
needed to make sure we didn’t make the others worse. Short-term fixes hadn’t
work. I wouldn’t repeat those mistakes.
The biggest problem was clearly the County’s fiscal health. Wayne County had
been insolvent for years and things were getting worse. Wayne County, had
survived this long by continually robbing Peter to pay Paul. We had little time
before corrective financial actions would be too late, and bankruptcy
inevitable. No one knew with certainty how long we had before corrective
action would be too late. The time, however, was short enough, for the fiscally
responsible to agree, that now was definitely not too soon.
The road that led to this financial mess resulted from a number of factors:
Mismanagement, Poor-decision making, Bad economic development deals,
Rising legacy costs for healthcare and pensions, and property tax revenue that
plummeted as a result of the economic downturn of 2008. No matter who
headed Wayne County government during this time, managing with dwindling
resources was going to be tough. The real problem was the failure to see the
coming financial crisis and the failure to make any tough decisions to avert it.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
The result was an accumulated deficit approaching $100 million, a yearly
structural deficit of approximately $52 million, $1.3 billion, that’s with a
capital B, in unfunded health care liabilities, and a pension fund, once fullyfunded, decimated to just 44% funded and needing about $900 million to
reach full funding.
Wanting to be sure of the numbers, we brought in an independent team of
CPAs and accountants from Ernst and Young. Unfortunately, the numbers
were as bad as they appeared.
While I was prepared to make the tough decisions, I knew I couldn’t do it
alone. I needed the right team to make it happen. Late in the transition I
found the person who would become the Architect of the County’s plan to
recover from this financial mess. It was a 29 year-old, turn-around expert,
who saved Benton Harbor from financial ruin and was a gubernatorial
appointment to Detroit’s Financial Review Board. A whiz kid, who grew up in
Detroit, went to our own Cass Tech, and somewhere along the way, learned
the value of using his intellect for the public good. Ladies and gentleman, I give
you Wayne County’s Chief Restructuring Officer and Chief Financial Officer,
Tony Saunders.
Although Tony was the architect, he had a lot of help. I lured my Deputy
County Executive away from a lucrative law practice by playing on his weak
spot of caring about good government. He gave up more in pay than I’ve ever
made in a year. His previous experience as Chief Judge of the Wayne County
Circuit Court and General Manager of SMART proved invaluable. Ladies and
gentlemen, please recognize my Deputy County Executive, Rick Kaufman.
Rounding out my fiscal recovery team was the former Deputy Treasurer of the
State of Michigan under Gov. Blanchard and the Treasurer of the State of
Michigan under Governor Granholm. He is now my Chief Operating Officer.
He could not make it here this evening but allow me to acknowledge Jay

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
These three dedicated public servants spent weeks and hundreds of hours
poring through the financial data. They asked me innumerable questions
about my priorities and, frankly, how courageous I planned to be.
They drafted and redrafted and redrafted what became known as the
“Recovery Plan” for Wayne County. I released it on April 29, 2015 and we
immediately went to work implementing it.
Tonight, I am pleased to report that as a result of unprecedented cooperation
and shared sacrifice, Wayne County finished its last fiscal year with a positive
General Fund balance. Let me say that again, for the first time in 8 years, the
County finished a fiscal year in the black. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a
remarkable accomplishment by anyone’s measure.
We will not need an Emergency Manager and we will not be going bankrupt!
We have eliminated the accumulated deficit!
We have eliminated the yearly structural deficit!
And we have dramatically reduced our health-care liabilities. A recent
actuarial report from NYHART established that our healthcare liabilities have
been reduced from $1.3 billion to $471 million. As important, the study
warned, that if we had not taken action, our health care liabilities would have
risen to $1.8 billion by the end of 2015.
We didn’t achieve this financial recovery on our own. We had cooperation
from many places. We had an unprecedented level of cooperation between
the executive branch and the Wayne County Commission. The Commission
was an important partner in approving many of the essential parts of the
“Recovery Plan”.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
The new spirit of cooperation between the County Executive’s Office and the
other elected County officials was extremely important. Proof of this new
spirit was the Wayne County Sheriff, and the Wayne County Prosecutor,
agreeing that the CEO recommended budget for their Office for this fiscal year
was fair. I’m sure nobody in this room can remember the last time that
happened. I certainly can’t.
How’d we do it? We listened?
My staff spent countless hours with the Sheriff’s staff going over every detail
of his operation. Analyzing the job of every deputy, and through consensus,
not confrontation, agreed to changes. Cooperatively we reduced the Sheriff’s
operational budget by $2 million in this fiscal year without sacrificing
service. And I’m pleased to report, that having finished the first quarter of this
fiscal year, the Sheriff, for the first time in many, many years is living within
his budget. No other sheriff, including myself, was able to do that because of
the lack of cooperation from the County Executive’s Office, Thank you Benny
So is the Wayne County Prosecutor. We listened to her needs and gave her
increases where they were most critically needed and she listened to our
problems and worked with us to help balance her Office’s budget. Thank you
Kym Worthy.
We are near completion of a reorganization of the Register of Deeds’ Office,
headed by Bernie Youngblood. He is dedicated to having the best Register of
Deeds Office in this country. This reorganization provides the resources and
flexibility to deliver operational excellence in the Register of Deeds Office.
And this reorganization results in a budget reduction of hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Thank you Bernie Youngblood.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
Recently, we invited the County Clerk and her staff to meet with me and my
staff to start a similar process. She agreed and the meetings have begun. I
thank you Cathy Garrett. I’ve also begun working cooperatively with our new
County Treasurer, Richard Hathaway. We will work together, to utilize the
authority of the Wayne County Land Bank and other measures to keep people
in their homes.
We had even more help. The Wayne County Circuit Court, led by its Chief
Judge Robert Colombo, and the Wayne County Probate Court, led by its Chief
Judge Freddie Burton, cooperated and helped us reduce costs and increase
Our Wayne County Prosecutor, Sheriff, Treasurer, Clerk, Commission and
Register of Deeds, together with our two Chief Judges, are helping us improve
County services and meet our enormous financial challenges. It is amazing
what can be achieved when dedicated people work in cooperation.
We, also, had help from most of our Retirees. Approximately 4000 of the
County’s 5000 retirees agreed to resolve a lawsuit over health care benefits
that recognized the County’s financial circumstances. When I became County
Executive, this case had been pending for years and millions of dollars of
attorney’s fees had been spent litigating. The Union representatives of these
Retirees showed leadership and courage to recognize reality and work with
the County to reach a solution.
Additionally, 12 of our 13 labor unions agreed to new Collective Bargaining
Agreements that helped reduce our legacy costs. Thank you for the
We also needed the cooperation of the State. The “Consent Agreement”
approved by the County Commission and executed with the State Treasurer
was essential to implementation of important pieces of the “Recovery Plan”.
Many warned that the “Consent Agreement” would fail. They were wrong! It

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
worked and I am proud to report that this year we will petition the State
Treasurer to release Wayne County from the Consent Agreement. And I
believe this can occur early in this year.
But the news is not all good. Yes, we’ve made significant progress, but we’ve
got a long way to go. As I said, ending the County’s fiscal crisis won’t solve our
facilities problems. But we have begun to make a great deal of progress in this
We need to finish the partially built jail on Gratiot. There is no cost effective
alternative. We recently completed a preliminary agreement with AECOM and
Ghafari that will, hopefully, settle a lawsuit and lead to the completion of the
Gratiot jail. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to finish that jail. The
costs of restarting construction and the natural increase in prices will add
millions to the cost to complete it. But the solid financial recovery the County
has experienced will, likely, allow us to borrow the money necessary to
complete this essential project. There is a long way to go before this is a
reality, but our plan is solid and provides the best opportunity for success.
We recently completed an exhaustive study of the renovations needed for our
existing jails and the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. We will need to find the
money to make the necessary repairs to the existing jails, at least, until we can
open a new jail on Gratiot. And in conjunction with a new Gratiot jail, we must
spend tens of millions of dollars to renovate the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.
One of the reasons for a new jail on Gratiot was its proximity to the Criminal
Division of the Wayne County Circuit Court. Therefore, renovating the Frank
Murphy Hall of Justice is the most fiscally prudent course and funds must be
found for this purpose.
We are presently preparing, with the assistance of the State of Michigan, to
move the Juvenile Division of the Wayne County Circuit Court, into the State
owned Cadillac Place.
This move will greatly improve our Juvenile Court
facilities and save the County money.

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
We are also in the preliminary stages of reviewing plans to solve the facilities
needs of the Civil Division of the Wayne County Circuit Court. And we
continue to assess whether there is a more cost effective location than the
Guardian Building for County offices.
To succeed with these facilities challenges, we must stay vigilant in our
dedication to fiscal responsibility. Unless, we can create additional revenue
sources, the money to solve these facilities problems must come from future
surpluses. These surpluses can only be achieved by continuing to manage
County government efficiently.
And that brings me to improving County services while saving money. We
have no other choice in Wayne County. We must do both. Although we have a
long way to go, we have already traveled a great distance.
As I look around the room tonight at a number of people in my
Administration, I am struck by the many, who come in early, stay late, answer
calls and emails at all hours of the night and on weekends. That doesn’t
happen by accident. That happens when the people at the top lead by
There is one person at the top, who’s been most responsible for the progress
we’ve made in improving County services. She’s an affable, smart, quietlydetermined individual, who was the first African-American woman to lead
Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run Airports as CEO. Rising from in-house
Counsel, she became a skilled administrator. She is a consensus builder who
strives for excellence. Ladies and Gentleman, please recognize another key
member of my executive team, Assistant County Executive, Genelle Allen.
Under Genelle’s leadership, we consolidated and reorganized several
departments. To streamline health and wellness operations, we consolidated
three Departments into a new Department of Health, Veterans and
Community Wellness.
This consolidation, responsibly cuts costs and
improves service.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
Residents used to have to navigate a bureaucratic maze to obtain services.
Case managers are now trained to conduct complete resident assessments.
We call this service delivery model “No Wrong Door.” And it is now our
responsibility to see that the resident finds the County service they need, not
Nearly 11% of Wayne County’s residents still don’t have health insurance.
That number represents 25% of the entire uninsured population in Michigan.
Later this year we plan to launch a new initiative to assist immigrants and
other vulnerable populations in securing health care coverage.
Half of the one hundred and twelve thousand residents in Westland, Wayne,
Romulus and Inkster are low income.
Within these four cities, there is only one primary care doctor for every 4100
residents. The barriers for this population to secure quality healthcare
services are high. We will lower these barriers by making it easier for Wayne
County residents to receive adequate healthcare.
To assist with increased access to health care for residents, we recently
opened the new full service Wayne Health Center. Through a partnership with
Beaumont Health, this new health center offers primary care services to
families in Western Wayne County.
Physicians and health care professionals from the Family Medicine program of
Beaumont Health are working side by side with Wayne County’s public health
nurses. With us tonight, our partner in this endeavor, Dan Spatafora and
Judith McNeely of Beaumont Health.
Later this year, dental services will also be offered at the Wayne Health Center
through a partnership we established with the University of Detroit Mercy’s
School of Dentistry. With us tonight is the school of dentistry’s Dean, Dr. Mert
I thank you Beaumont Health and University of Detroit Mercy for supporting
our effort to increase healthcare for Wayne County residents.
This reorganized Department will also benefit at-risk young people.

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
This year we will launch a new job training program for young people who are
released from the Juvenile Detention Facility or otherwise considered at-risk.
I’ve spent the better part of my career watching youth detention facilities
serve as the single largest gateway for youthful offenders into our costly
County adult correctional system and then to the even more costly State
prison system. Our failure to identify and effectively treat these youth has
harmed generations, while nearly bankrupting state and local governments.
We know it is more expensive to incarcerate a prisoner than provide a college
education. Yet, we do little when it comes to providing the sort of youth
services we know can be effective in leading youth to college or skilled trade
schools instead of prison.
We should not lock away their potential to
positively contribute to our communities.
I know we have criminals we can’t help. But, many, perhaps most, can be
helped and deserve a second chance. An ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure. Money spent to reduce recidivism is the ounce of prevention.
Money for bricks and mortar is the more expensive pound of cure.
Helping at risk youth is a priority, and I found a wonderful partner with an
excellent track record of transforming the lives of Wayne County’s youth. She
has championed the cause of young people. She is the President and CEO of
“Black Family Development.” Ladies and Gentleman, please recognize Alice
For 38 years, “Black Family Development” has committed itself to the idea
that every young person should have the opportunity to flourish. Her
organization has helped thousands of area youth discover their gifts, hone
their skills and become successful in worthwhile endeavors. Together, with
“Black Family development” Wayne County plans to launch a job training
program. This program will provide career readiness and placement services.
I’m optimistic the Wayne County Commission will agree with me and approve
this engagement.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
In order to continue and expand our efforts in these vital areas of at-risk
youth and wellness, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to streamline
County government. Only by making County government more efficient, can
we find the money for these essential services. To accomplish this, we will be
launching a number of significant projects.
This year we will completely transform Wayne County’s antiquated
Purchasing system. It may not sound like it, but this is a big deal. We are
installing a state of the art e-Procurement system. This system will create
greater transparency in contracting, generate long-term savings and make it
easier to do business with Wayne County.
To accomplish this important improvement, I’ve lured an extremely talented
individual to lead this transformation. His name is James Colangelo and he
comes by way of JetBlue Airways.
The Wayne County Commission has approved the contract, and we are on our
way to having Wayne County’s new e-Procurement System up and running
before the end of the year.
We are partnering with the Michigan Association of Counties, or MAC, to help
us in this Procurement transformation. MAC has developed a substantial
expertise in this area and their assistance will be invaluable. With us tonight
from MAC are the two key people who will assist us with this project, Steve
Currie and Sean Carlson. Thank you for your partnership and expertise.
And there will be an added benefit to this new Procurement system. It will
allow us to fairly ask Wayne County vendors to help alleviate our financial
problems. They will be given an opportunity to share in the sacrifice.
In the coming weeks, County vendors will receive a letter from Mr. CoAngelo.
It will propose a reduction in the cost of goods or services they provide the
County. We will ask that they join Wayne County retirees, my appointees and
union employees who have sacrificed on this difficult road to recovery. By
working with our vendors, we can reach a fair agreement that will further
stabilize Wayne County’s finances.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
It’s now time to talk about roads and bridges. Wayne County has 739 miles of
primary roads that run across our 43 communities. When I took office, I
learned that a lot of road and bridge maintenance issues remained
Recognizing the limited resources, I directed my Assistant County Executive,
June Lee, and the Roads and Engineering Divisions to work collaboratively
with our local communities to find solutions for the hardest hit communities
that needed road repairs.
In a thriving business district of Hamtramck, there’s a one-mile stretch on
Conant between Carpenter and Holbrook that hadn’t been adequately
repaired in 39 years. Working with the local community we got it repaired.
Working with Brownstown Township Supervisor, Andy Linko, we provided
temporary relief to motorists in his Township by overlaying asphalt on two
bad stretches of Sibley Road. And we will be back out there this year to finish
the job.
We worked with former Commissioner Richard LeBlanc, who now serves as
Westland’s City Clerk, to prioritize the resurfacing of Cherry Hill Road. This
resurfacing will begin in July.
The County maintains a drawbridge on Jefferson Avenue. It is an important
thoroughfare for the residents and businesses of two downriver communities:
River Rouge and Ecorse. This bridge was inoperable for two years before I
took office. Last fall we started to fix it.
The Jefferson Avenue Drawbridge is on target to be open and fully functioning
in August of this year. Mayor Bowdler, my friend, as the sign says, we are
fixing the damn bridge!
This year we will complete 16 capital improvement projects in 15 different
communities. We will continue to work in partnership with our cities and
townships to fix our roads and bridges.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
Please allow me to change gears at this point. We have taken concrete steps in
Wayne County to eliminate wasteful spending while remaining focused on
delivering quality services. But we have had to go beyond merely instituting
reasonable cost cutting measures. We needed to make some painful cuts.
Our employees and retirees were required to make huge sacrifices.
Many local governments have been required to make similar painful cuts.
These cuts are to the muscle not just the fat of local governments.
This is evidence of a larger fundamental problem. Like Wayne County, our 43
cities and townships, must manage their financial affairs under a broken
system of local government financing.
During the Great Recession that began in 2008, property values tumbled,
reducing property taxes that are used, primarily, to finance local governments.
Because of this drop in property values Wayne County received $418 million
less dollars in property tax receipts from 2008 to 2014. Likely, all local
governments in Michigan, collectively, received billions less in property tax
receipts during this period. Local governments can’t sustain that kind of loss
without significantly affecting the quality of the essential services they are
required to deliver. So the heavy reliance on property taxes to fund local
governments, by itself, is of major concern.
In Michigan, however, our laws exacerbate the problem. When property
values recovered, local governments, due to the restrictions contained in
Proposition A and the Headlee Amendment, were unable to recover the total
lost taxes. Of the $418 million in lost tax receipts during this period, $240
million were the result of these tax limitations.
Wayne County must operate within its means. And we will continue to
demonstrate the necessary discipline to do that. But I have a corresponding
obligation to identify structural threats to the fiscal integrity of not just county
government, but all the local governments with whom we regularly work.
Fixing this is necessary to ensure that Wayne County remains a place people
will want to call home.

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
Our system of funding local governments threatens the financial stability of
counties and local municipalities. Just look 70 miles to the north to see what
kind of results this broken system of local funding produced. While we
support alleviating the suffering of the people of Flint, we, also, must be
mindful that the chronic disinvestment in local units of government
throughout the state has made it difficult for many communities to fund a
range of basic services.
We can and must do better. We cannot continue to underfund local
governments. For too long, resources needed for schools and communities
have not found their way into these budgets that provide vital services. That
is until disaster strikes.. We can’t afford to just be reactive. We need to invest
in townships, villages, cities, schools, and counties. Our residents expect a
responsive public safety department. Our parents expect quality schools
regardless of zip code. Our communities need a safe infrastructure.
The first step in solving any problem is to acknowledge it. The number and
variability of communities experiencing financial distress provides perhaps
the best evidence of the seriousness of this problem. We need to start down
the road to a solution. In the coming weeks, I will organize a summit of
elected officials, community leaders, leading economists, business leaders and
others, who can aid in devising a solution to this broken system of local
government financing.
Tonight I’ve identified a few of the key members of my executive team. There
are a couple others I’d be remiss not to mention. Because he lost a close
Congressional election in 2014, I got to benefit from his tireless effort and
sharp acumen over the last fourteen months. Ladies and gentleman please
recognize my Chief of Staff, Rudy Hobbs.
I’ve also had the benefit of one of the best legal minds around, a tireless
worker and amazing manager. Keeping her on as my Corporation Counsel
was one of my best decisions. Ladies and gentleman, please recognize Zenna
Elhasan. Other members of my staff have been critical to our success and I
thank them all.

2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
But to all my staff, don’t forget; be back in the office at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Allow me to close with these observations.
Government can work as it should or government can be riddled with
incompetence and even corruption. We’ve seen both kinds. As a Democrat, I
like to say that Republicans often run for office claiming government doesn’t
work and then when elected, go on to prove it.
I believe government can work. I believe government has an important role to
play in leveling the field. I believe government has a role to play in caring for
those who can’t care for themselves. I believe government has a role to play in
giving an opportunity to succeed to those who would not, without the
outstretched hand of government. I’ve dedicated my professional life to these
What people often don’t understand is that these beliefs can go hand and hand
with fiscal responsibility. If you’re fiscally responsible, you free up more
resources to meet more real needs. Some say use it for tax breaks for the rich.
I say use it to help a deserving fellow citizen. Government should create
programs for those deserving of assistance. Such programs benefit not only
the individual but, also, our community. And just because Government get it
wrong sometimes, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to try.
To me, government is a calling not a business. And I get a kick out of running
an efficient government that is able to provide more for the citizens we serve.
In fact, if you really think about it, the greatest, long-lasting happiness any of
us experience comes from doing for others. Whether it’s a family member,
friend, stranger or worthy recipient of government services, we feel good if
our actions benefit others.


2016 State of the County Address
Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Detroit Film Theatre
It takes competence and honesty to make government work. And whether it’s
a Republican or a Democrat, if the leader of the government is competent and
honest and cares about good government, chances are the citizens will be well
served. Voters it seems, however, tend to focus on a candidate’s political
views significantly more than their competence to manage. And that is, often,
Don’t get me wrong. Ones political view can be important. It was important
when I found a million dollars for rape kits in a tight budget. It was important
when I had a chance to use my bully pulpit to try to help keep the air and
water in Wayne County cleaner. But, frankly, more important is the question
of whether an elected official, who will be charged with running a
government, is competent, honest and cares about good government.
Some disagreed with steps we’ve taken to solve our County’s problems. But
no one, I believe, can question our motives or integrity. And no one can
question that we’ve done it with a diverse team of men and women,
Caucasians, African-Americans, Middle Eastern, and Asians. And this team was
more effective than the sum of its parts because of that diversity. And I don’t
think anyone should fairly question the competence of this amazingly diverse
team In the County executive offices found on the 31st floor of the Guardian
Building, the pursuit of honest, fiscally responsible, good government, really is
our mantra. And that has not always been the case in Wayne County.
So it’s been an eventful year for me, my staff and Wayne County government.
I hope you agree we’ve made things better. But we’ve got a lot left to do and
we intend to do it.
Thank you all for coming and God bless.