More Scandal and Money at City Hall

Posted In: Politics, Local, News, Investigative Reporting, Local,   From Issue 641   By: Robert E Martin

19th July, 2007     0

Willie Haynes, Saginaw City Council member, whom teamed up with Roma Thurin and Dan Sosa to get former City Manager Debbie Kimble fired, and bragged to have knowledge that he would not disclose to police about gun running in the city, has now been convicted in a federal criminal case.

Haynes admitted to lying in financial statements, which is a federal misdemeanor that could land him jail time for up to one year.

This latest incident involving a city council member stems from a three-year old embezzlement at his former United Auto workers job in Bay City. While prosecutors did not charge Haynes with embezzlement, a plea-bargain treats the matter as though he stole $5,000 to $10,000 dollars.

Haynes claims that he will not resign from the Saginaw City Council because of the incident.

According to his attorney, Peter C. Jensen, Haynes took about $10,000 over three years and was discovered by auditors, repaying the money by late 2004. Nonetheless, auditors alerted the government, prompting criminal charges filed.

Haynes worked as the financial secretary for Local 362, which represents workers at General Motors. Corp. Powertrain Division in Bay City. He falsified financial reports in 2001, 2002 and 2003, U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy said in a statement.

According to Jensen in a report by Joe Snapper in The Saginaw News, Haynes took advantage of a system that allowed him to take off from his job at General Motors to conduct union business on the condition the union would pay for Haynes time off if G.M. would not. However, Haynes never took time off at GM and collected the union money anyway, four hours a week's worth.

According to his plea-bargain, Haynes faces no more than six months behind bars and fine from $1,000 to $100,000. Haynes pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court. Haynes' punishment also considers his  'abuse of a position of trust' and prohibits him from serving as a union official again. Haynes will appear for sentencing before District Judge Thomas L. Ludington.

In July 2005, Haynes also refused to reveal what he knew of illegal guns plaguing Saginaw. During a City Council session he suggested that he knew of a key player in the city's firearms black market, but refused to discuss the information with officers.

At that time, Saginaw Police Detective Sgt. Mark Lively, the city's head of investigations, tried and failed to interview Haynes after the meeting in which he mentioned his knowledge of illegal gun sales.

Cleaning Up City Hall

This latest incident comes at a time when The Saginaw County Republican Committee has adopted City Hall as their pet project under Saginaw's Adopt-a-Park program.

"This is a great opportunity for the Saginaw County GOP to demonstrate our civic pride and to take our brand of stewardship to City Hall," explains Saginaw County GOP chair Tim Kelly.

"Through our volunteer efforts, we will literally, not figuratively, clean up the mess at City Hall."

Executive Committee member Jimmy Greene will head up the project for the Republicans.

Members have offered use of pruning equipment, a flatbed truck to haul away debris, and will also bring all their own gardening and lawn equipment.

The City notes that the grass and shrub beds just require a "once-over" while flowerbeds and other landscape features will require some ongoing maintenance.

Over 20 people have volunteered to assist with the project.

City Gets $3.3. Million in Housing Grants

Meanwhile, as the City of Saginaw struggles over abandoned housing and budgetary shortfalls, Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI) has announced that $3,324,821 in federal funds has been awarded to the City of Saginaw for housing, homeless assistance and community development initiatives.

Specifically, these grants have been awarded to the City:

* $2,556,090 from the Community Development Block Grants program, which seeks to provide decent housing and suitable living environments while expanding economic opportunities primarily for low and moderate-income people.  Controversy has surrounded the Block Grant funds for years, especially regarding disbursements and bidding practices.

* $658,408 from the HOME program, which works to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low and very low-income families.

* $110,323 from the emergency Shelter Grants program, which works to improve the quality and number of emergency homeless shelters.


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