Why did airport board reimburse member who flew to go hunting? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Why did airport board reimburse member who flew to go hunting?

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By Andrea Isom
Fox 2 News

ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) -- Someone is calling shenanigans when it comes to the Wayne County Airport Authority.  It would not be the first time, but this version is about a vacation.

Who is Samuel Nouhan?  Well, he is board member for the Wayne County Airport Authority appointed by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

Nouhan was only one of two board members who voted against giving Turkia Mullin the boot from that cushy CEO seat with the WCAA.

There is more. Nouhan is also caught up in a FBI probe.  That federal investigation is connected to questionable contracts his former law firm might have received under the Ficano administration.

That's a little Nouhan history.  Here's what happening now.  Nouhan is a hunter and he is giddy for game.  According to some documents we got our hands on, he and one of his hunting buddies made plans to go on a major duck hunting trip from Michigan to South Dakota, but then something suddenly came up two days after he was all set to get out of Dodge.

"The board chair called a special, very important as you know, a special emergency board meeting on short notice," said Mike Conway (pictured above), a spokesman for the Airport Authority, and yes, we know "the" Mullin meeting.

"He and his friend were going to drive.  He couldn't do that and still make this very important board meeting, so the Airport Authority reimbursed him for a legitimate expense so that he could continue to function as a board member and conduct Airport Authority business," Conway said.

So since he decided to stick around, in order to proceed with his vacation plans, Nouhan and his friend were forced to fly to South Dakota instead.

"There's a minimum number of hunters required for the lodge, so that was a reasonable expense.  He used his frequent flyer miles, we reimbursed him for the market value of those miles, and a night in a hotel," said Conway.

Extra bags, a rental car and a duck cooler, too.

"The cooler would've fit in a car, probably not as carry on," Conway said.

But why shouldn't his friend have to fend for himself?

"We did not pay for our board member and his friend to go on a duck hunting trip.  What we did is reimburse him for expenses he incurred in order to attend that special meeting, which was on a very important topic," said Conway.

The total reimbursement came to a sum of just a touch under $3,000.

"Not appropriate, not appropriate," said Brad Manley, president of AFSCME Local 953, which represents airport employees.

"You can read Public Act 90 and you'll see that reimbursing board members is allowed," Conway said.

However, Manley disagrees with that big time.

"If you want to pay for trips, pay for all of us to go on a trip," he said.  "The airport policy does not allow reimbursement of airport board members for personal trips just to attend special board meetings."

"If that's the case, board members would be reimbursed, mileage or gas, to attend board meetings."

"He simply shouldn't have attended the meeting if the trip was that important to him."

Manley is not buying this explanation of a pay back.  He think it's a handout for Nouhan and his hunting partner, and Manley said that's a tacky move in a time when many metro Detroiters are pinching every penny.

"It's just a slap in the face that you could spend that kind of money for trips like that while you're claiming that you need to cut operating expense," he said.  "Pay the money back.  That's the right thing to do."

We tried to reach out to Nouhan, but he has yet to respond.

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