The mystery is solved.
E-mail records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the person who posted a flyer inside a Wayne State University building that claimed Motor City Muckraker‘s Steve Neavling is “dangerous” was President M. Roy Wilson’s wife.
University First Lady Jacqueline Wilson posted a picture of Neavling last month inside the lobby of the university’s Alumni Affairs office at the Tierney Mansion, where she works on a program for homeless students. The flyer encouraged people to call university Police Chief Anthony Holt on his personal cell phone if they spotted Neavling near the mansion.
The first lady posted Chief Holt’s cell phone number without his permission, prompting an immediate investigation that revealed she was behind the flyer.
Just 40 minutes after Muckraker published a story about the flyer, Julie Miller, the senior executive assistant to the president, sent an email to the Board of Governors, revealing that Jacqueline Wilson was responsible for the flyer.
“The poster was placed in Tierney by Mrs. Wilson, whose office is in that building,” Miller wrote. “She felt personally threatened after Mr. Neavling showed up unannounced at the Jacob House last week in an attempt to speak directly to the president. While the President felt this was an overreaction, it was in response to what could be perceived as an invasion into a private space.”
To be clear, the Jacob House is in the middle of a public campus and is not the Wilsons’ private residence. It’s a house where they host parties and events.
The university and Jacqueline Wilson declined to comment for this story, but in a statement last month, WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said, “We are having the sign taken down. Its posting was not sanctioned by Wayne State and we do not view you as dangerous.”
Lockwood appeared to lie to Deadline Detroit when the online publication followed up on the story, saying “I don’t know who posted it.” Truth is, the university did know who posted the flyer by the time Deadline Detroit asked about the flyer.
The flyer was posted in the middle of a Motor City Muckraker investigation into Wayne State, which so far has revealed:
- The university’s Board of Governors secretly voted on a $25,000 raise for President M. Roy Wilson, just a month after raising tuition 4.2%.
- Black enrollment has plummeted nearly 50% between 2009 and 2015.
- Wayne State entered into a risky, confidential deal with Mike Ilitch to build a new business school near his tax-funded Red Wings arena.
- The university’s financial problems prompted two top rating agencies to reduce
Wayne State’s outlook to “negative.”
- Wayne State removed the math requirement without the mandated approval of the Board of Governors.
- The university tried to keep records from becoming public by charging outrageous fees.
Motor City Muckraker is consulting with an attorney to determine whether to file a libel and defamation suit against the university and First Lady Wilson. Muckraker also may sue the university over excessive FOIA fees involving records about the president and his wife’s expenses.
Even after discovering the president’s wife posted the flyer, Board of Governors Vice Chairman Paul Massaron suggested last month that Neavling owed Jacqueline Wilson “an apology” for pointing out that she often requires Chief Holt to chauffeur the first lady around Detroit for events. Moments later, Massaron was among seven board members who approved a $25,000 bonus to President Wilson at a time when tuition is rising, black enrollment is plummeting and university spending has prompted “negative” outlooks from two top rating agencies.
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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.