9 employees make 6-figure salaries at fast-growing Detroit Land Bank

Abandoned house

First in a series about the salaries of public officials. Today’s focus is on the Detroit Land Bank Authority. 

The Detroit Land Bank Authority is playing a larger role than ever in fighting blight, and that means more employees and bigger salaries.

Craig Fahle
Craig Fahle

The public entity recently added its ninth employee receiving a six-figure salary – Craig Fahle, the former host of WDET’s Craig Fahle Show, who now makes $120,000 a year.

According to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the Motor City Muckraker has learned:

  • One of the highest-paid employees, Carrie Lewand-Monroe, is the daughter of Tom Lewand, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party and Mayor Mike Duggan’s current group executive for jobs and economic growth. Lewand-Monroe is a senior advisor for the Land Bank, earning $135,000. She’s an attorney and previously served as executive director of the state’s Land Bank Fast Track Authority.
  • Some are former Detroit City Council staffers, including senior Land Bank attorney Marcel Hurt, who is paid $100,000 a year. Hurt served as chief of staff for former council President Saunteel Jenkins.
  • Another former council staffer is Rodney Liggons, who now manages policy and community engagement for the Land Bank for $53,000 a year. He worked for Detroit Councilman James Tate.
  • The highest-paid employees earn $140,000 a year. One of them is Land Bank Executive Director Richard Wiener, who served as chief of staff for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The other is the Land Bank’s general counsel, Kevin Simowski, who is eligible for lifetime benefits after working at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
    Rick Wiener
    Rick Wiener
  • The Land Bank has 56 full-time employees, 34-part-timers and eight interns.

The political appointments aren’t unusual, especially since public sector experience is often a big advantage.

Fahle said the employees are vastly qualified and passionate about Detroit’s future.

“This is a great, high-caliber team,” Fahle told me. “Everyone is incredibly motivated.”

The Land Bank was created in 2008 but operated with minimal authority until recently.

The scope of work has increased dramatically as Mayor Mike Duggan embarks on an unprecedented assault on blight and abandonment, which are eroding the city’s neighborhoods. The public entity is tasked with overseeing the demolition of blighted houses and buildings and running a widely successful auction to put abandoned homes into the hands of new owners. The Land Bank also plans to seize drug houses and chronically blighted property.

“It’s a monumental task,” Fahle said. “We have a remarkably lean organization for what we are doing.”

The Land Bank sold more than 125 houses in auctions since May 5, collecting in excess of $2 million in sales. The homes ranged in price from $1,000 to $97,900.

To see a full list of the Land Bank’s responsibility, click here.

Last Name First Name Title Salary
Simowski Kevin General Counsel 140,000.00
Wiener Richard Executive Director 140,000.00
Lewand-Monroe Mary Senior Advisor 135,000.00
Mends-Cole Dekonti Deputy Director 135,000.00
Story-Stewart Michelle Chief Financial Officer 130,000.00
Fahle Craig Communications Director 120,000.00
Brady Michael Director, Policy & Communications Engagement 118,000.00
Linthorst-Homan Kim Deputy General Counsel 105,000.00
Hurt Marcel Senoir Staff Attorney 100,000.00
Cannon, Jr. Richard Property Disposition Manager 90,000.00
Delgado Martha Senior Project Manager 85,000.00
Vosburg Brian Property Disposition Manager 80,000.00
Moore Alicia Controller 80,000.00
Karamoko Jelani Staff Attorney 75,000.00
Camargo Rebecca Staff Attorney 70,000.00
Saxon, Jr. Robert Chief Architect & Sr. Construction Manager 70,000.00
Shollack Stephen Staff Attorney 70,000.00
Simon Michelle GIS/Data Analyst 70,000.00
Holman Gregory Data & Asset Management Specialist 68,000.00
Richardson Ericka Nuisance Abatement Program Coordinator 66,000.00
Zygmontowicz Heather Operations Manager 65,000.00
Earl Darryl Property Disposition Specialist 63,000.00
Linn Robert Senior Property Analyst 62,000.00
Truong John Project Manager 62,000.00
Baumeister Mary Property Disposition Specialist 60,000.00
Clement Mojisola Staff Attorney 60,000.00
Mieksztyn David GIS/Data Analyst 60,000.00
Adams Darnell Property Manager 55,000.00
Jamison Ebony Closing & Title Manager 55,000.00
Williams Frieda Office Manager 55,000.00
Shelton Kevin Junior Data Manager 54,000.00
Liggons Rodney Policy & Community Engagement 53,000.00
Brown David Property Disposition Specialist 52,500.00
Lindsey Juston I.T. Specialist 51,000.00
Dean Charity Policy & Community Engagement 50,000.00
Jackson Gina Property Disposition Specialist 50,000.00
Mattic Sharon Accountant II 50,000.00
Pace LaTonya Accountant I 45,000.00
Thomas Cynthia Human Resources Manager 45,000.00
Carlson Sarah Disposition Data Specialist 40,000.00
Cox Donald Investigations Manager 40,000.00

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Shannon McDonald

    Some of the old city counsel members concern me. Fahle, however, will achieve success. I believe he is driven and loves the city. Context would be nice, but lets just wait and see.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    “Fahle said the employees are vastly qualified and passionate about Detroit’s future.

    “This is a great, high-caliber team,” Fahle told me. “Everyone is incredibly motivated.”

    You are supposed to be paid for results, not a smile on your face or saying nice things at meetings, if what they plan does not work, and work out great, most of them should be fired, every couple years until we find some winners.

    It sounds like a dumping ground of only connected Detroit democrats. You mean the same people that tore detroit up, and rode it hard, put it away wet, andmilked it for all it was worth?

    Sure lets give them a job with more pay, and less accountability to “do their magic!”

  • Karley Green

    My friend happens to be on this list. I hear the stories of the great things this group is doing. They are doing their best, and making millions, as you cite, for the city. These people are being paid well, but they work hard. And if so and so’s daughter can do the job, what is the problem? If this group weren’t providing results, then I could understand being upset. But this group is turning Detroit around faster than anything we’ve ever seen. We should be thanking them, not listing their personal business out in the hopes of embarrassing them.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Show me a net savings of millions. You cannot find such data because it does not exist, because they do not do that.

      I bet what you “hear” is totally unbiased. You know how many people I have met that say the company they work for would fold if they left, and they leave and nothing happens. Answer, more than I can count.

      No one cares if they work hard, you do not get paid for working hard, you get paid for results in the face of competition.

      None of them competed for the job, they were handed jobs because of who they know, and who they worked for in the past, and no doubt a bunch of affirmative action as well.

      Not saying every single person is completely incompetent and could never hold down a job, just saying, not this job on merit. Just the fact they are all detroit and wayne county dems tells you all you need to know. Everyone is connected, its not a random hire from some guy from texas with a good resume, or good history. Its all back scratching.

  • Trexinmichigan

    So, most of these people have worked in government before and we know what the results have been. Why should we think they will be productive now. The old definition of insanity, blah, blah, blah.

  • Brent

    Some context might be nice here. How much have they accomplished? What are their milestone goals? How much do similar teams in other cities make? If they’re successful, what does it mean financially for the city?

  • BT Shelton

    WTF Steve. What happened to my posts questioning why other posters were so opposed to these numbers being published so the taxpayers could see how much THEY were paying these public servants?
    I’m curious as to why my posts were deleted.
    I did not use foul or even aggressive language,
    or insult anyone; I simply asked why some posters objected to these salaries being published for taxpayers to see.

  • BT Shelton

    It’s funny my comments praising the Motor City Muckraker for publishing this info when no one else did, and my comments asking why some of the other posters were so upset that these numbers were published, have been deleted.
    Exactly how does that happen Steve? Can other posters flag my comments to get them removed?

  • maggiemay

    Why is this a problem? If you want talented people you need to pay a competitive salary. Most of these people could earn a lot more in the private sector.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Who says they are talented? They have turned things around before, or fixed multi hundred million dollar or multi billion dollar problems? Please share who that is?

      If the could earn more, then they would do it! This is allot of money for no accountability and little work. They took it, or asked for it for that reason.

      They do not want to work 75 hour weeks, and be able to be fired at any moment, and even compete to get the job in the first place, and constantly fend off co workers trying to take their job.

      This sounds like a cake job.

    • Yup, that’s what they said about the Detroit employees *before* the bankruptcy too.

  • Bill Thomas

    Lawyers don’t come cheap. But do they need that many lawyers? Are they going hard after absentee landowners? Or do they mostly sit in their offices inflating their billables?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      they should come cheaper when they are full time, writing up motions all day that a clerk or paralegal can write up.

      They are not arguing the constitution before the supreme court, or challenging intellectual property laws.

      They are working for a kind city and county that will find mostly in their favor almost all the time, to achieve what the city and the county wants.

      Its also steady work they are not going to get fired from.

      Its allot like stocks and bonds. Bonds should never pay as much as a volitile stock that can rocket to the top. You get paid for the risk. If they did, no one would buy the stock, everyone would take the bonds guaranteed return with the radical guaranteed rise in price to match a stock, and then just get rich for showing up. Sounds like a sweet deal.

  • Irene Z Will

    Same old..same old…nepotism and cronyism insitutional in the D…

  • dirtydog1776

    If they love Detroit, they will make a sacrifice and work for just room and board…….it is for the future of all the little children, you know. How noble.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      They should step down in a year or two if we do not see huge gains in all sorts of areas that they say they are working on.

      Just showing up and putting out a press release now and then telling us, how awesome they are, is not really work. If we do not see huge results, then there is no need for any of them. Shutit down.

      • dirtydog1776

        That would be like paying teachers only if the kids actually learn something. With Democrats in control, that ain’t gonna happen.

  • Sizz

    Surprised you were able to obtain this info. As a quasi-governmental agency the law simply doesn’t apply to them. Nonetheless, its always amusing to see even more of the white men who really rule this city.

    • bebow

      There are quite a few females involved as well. Their race isn’t indicated, but they do seem clustered at the bottom of the payroll.

      • SnowStormsinDetroit

        Dekonti Mends-Cole is a Black female. So 3 of the top 5 highest paid are chicks. That’s pretty diverse within itself in my opinion.

        • Sizz

          Either way, nobody voted for them and there is really no way to hold them accountable for their actions. With the upcoming infusions of federal and state cash, a terrible situation will soon be made even worse. But then again, what do you care? After all its only your money.

          • SnowStormsinDetroit

            Explain to me how the citizens voting for someone gives us power to “hold them accountable”

            Kwame was voted in and went apeshit. Ficano was voted in and went apeshit. Bush was voted in and went apeshit.

            So again…. I’m asking you to qualify your opening statement.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            He wants to see a ton of middle eastern men judging by his avatar.

            He does not mean a couple percent like middle eastern people represent, he wants to see like 33-35% middle eastern people.

            Thats “fair”. Ten or twenty times over representation is just enough, so long as it is the same group he belongs to.

  • Alan Goldsmith

    Great reporting!

  • Bob Connely

    Sorry, but I focused only on the fact that these grossly-overpaid hacks claim a high-drive passion about Detroit’s current state, but ignore the fact that the City has been blighted for at least the amount of time they’ve been sucking the Public Teat – with (as admitted in the article) little progress.

    • bebow

      Oh, tell it!

    • Gary

      $140,000 grossly-overpaid? Since when is $140k for a leader of a 50 person organization a lot of money?

      • When they don’t have shit to show for results. That’s when.

        All I see is a bunch of people who have made a living off the public without providing any real value.

        • Gary

          I’m as anxious about moving shit forward too. However, this organization was recently formed/reorganized and will take a bit of time to make it happen. I don’t have any stake in this org, however, it’s the best cross section of talent this area has to offer. If they can’t make it happen, then no one can.

          • The best cross section of talent in this area? I find that hard to believe, but hope you’re right. It looks like a bunch of political appointee hacks to me, but whatever. If they get some good results, I don’t care.

            Detroit in particular, and Michigan in general, have a lot of people that do a lot gum wagging and call it getting things done.

          • Gary

            Yep

          • Daniel David

            Give em some time. If it was 1.4 million, I’d be shocked and appalled but 140k for dealing with the nightmare of Detroit’s blight is not very much.

            Regardless, what’s the solution? Pay people less and tell them to do more work? That’s a time-honored solution, eh? Really attracts capable people. Works great for our school system and police department.

          • Daniel David

            At any rate, this is drop in Detroit’s budget bucket. Detroit has a surprisingly large budget, but it’s not nearly enough to deal with the sheer size of Detroit and the scale of its problems. A couple million to deal with the blight, split up among a lot of employees, shouldn’t be an issue.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            Just the fact it is all democrat, and no one from the other side, or from business, shows you it is not some great brain trust of the best of the best.

            It is a place you send people you want to reward, from detroit political and wayne county political machine. Thats it!

      • javierjuanmanuel

        when they do not have to answer to anyone or compete.

        It would be different if there was competition to get the job, and competition to keep the job, and they were somehow competing with another agency and doing better?

        Also the 140k is their pay now, not including benefits, or bonus. And also many of these people are old enough, and worked other government jobs (again no competition) and have pensions close to as much as their current pay.

        Many are close to wallstreet analyst wages but they never have to fear losing their job, health care, and will get multiple pensions, and hook up family and friends with jobs they cannot be fired from either.

  • bebow

    On the issue of seizing drug houses, the city should rethink its position immediately. Neighborhoods are destroyed and decent residents and businesses flee before the required two drug raids take place. It’s nearly impossible to get the DPD to act on an initial narcotics-trafficking complaint, because the department is too busy or can’t see anything. If a raid does occur, the criminals simply relocate to a slumlord’s rental shack nearby. Individuals and entities acting as slumlords must be held 100% accountable for activities on their properties. The rest of us have rights, too, and the city cannot survive if it continues to operate in favor of the irresponsible and indulge the criminal. A one strike policy is necessary. Further, since the DPD appears to be paralyzed by the overwhelming amount of criminality it allowed to fester here unchecked over the last decade, it should consider employing alternative strategies to disrupt the neighborhood criminal menace. Crime can be fought in more ways than one. Every 224-DOPE complaint should prompt a postcard to be sent to the occupants: We Are Watching You. Fondly, The DPD Narcotics Section. Credible complaints should prompt calls to the slumlords to put them on notice and gather identifying information on the occupants. Any and all possible adverse action should be taken against the occupants, including action upon outstanding warrants, illegal utility hook-ups, welfare fraud, Section 8 non-compliance, unlicensed dogs, and school truancy. Any and all adverse action should also be taken against the slumlords, including blight violations and delinquent property tax collection. If the parties choose to be hardheaded, the bulldozers should roll with a swiftness, and the slumlords can then be invited to sue. See, the DPD Narcotics Section can do most of the job without ever getting off its behind. What the DPD can’t swarm must be subjected to constant disruption.

    • bebow

      …and mail delivery to locations reported to 224-DOPE should cease.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      “Individuals and entities acting as slumlords must be held 100% accountable for activities on their properties”

      How can you hold people responsible 100 % if they have virtually no power?

      Jeez hate on busines much, I want to be a landlord and own a shit town of places, not in detroit though, you can tell that is not on your goal list.

      You want some guy filling out papers and cashing checks to do what people with ar15s, 20 guys, 20 lawyers, tanks, dogs, flash bangs, CI’s, cameras and more cannot make a dent in.

      Sounds fair.

      Something makes me think you would not be cool if say we charged teachers or social workers with making things 100 % perfect on every try, or they are fined and sent to prison? Sounds fair, your kid you work with uses drugs, or sells drugs, teacher pays 150k fine and does 5 years in jail.

      You would like that, right ?

      • bebow

        Keep swinging, Javier. Eventually, you’ll make contact with something.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      I am all about the blight enforcement, but again, not just for landlords.

      You have to enforce code on single mothers with three kids and no job.

      You have to enforce it on old black tuskeegee airmen vet.

      You have to enforce it on poor artists, and people you think are cool and should get a break.

  • tb556

    This is a drop in the bucket, Duggan has $5.5 million in appointees, top paid ones being loyalists from the DMC. http://michigancitizen.com/detroit-executive-branch-orgizational-chart/