This an excerpt from a column I wrote for Deadline Detroit.

 

When Candice Miller first arrived on the job in 2017 as the new Macomb County public works commissioner, she found more problems – corruption, cronyism, incompetence – than she ever encountered in Washington as a congresswoman.

Some 2½ years later, she is still trying to clean up the mess created by her predecessor.

As the overseer of Macomb’s sewers and drains – a position previously viewed as a low-key job — Miller was immediately tossed into the muck, dealing with a massive sinkhole in Fraser, failing sewer pipes and neglected drains that flow into Lake St. Clair. Longtime public works commissioner Tony Marrocco, shortly after losing re-election to Miller in November 2016, fled to his second home in Florida and left the stench of his administration behind.

It’s still unclear whether Marrocco will face charges in the FBI criminal investigation which led to a widespread probe in 2017-1, racking up nearly two dozen corruption convictions of elected officials and contractors in Macomb County. What is abundantly clear is that Marrocco’s tough-talking “bag man,” Dino Bucci, still faces 18 felony counts of bribery, extortion and embezzlement while speculation abounds that his recent agreement to cooperate with federal investigators could be very bad news for his former boss, Marrocco.

In his 24 years as public works chief, Marrocco gained a reputation as the “godfather” of Macomb County politics. Friends and family were hired despite a lack of experience. Bucci, for example, was a former tuxedo salesman who was named the operations manager of the engineering unit. At one point during the probe, nearly a dozen public works employees were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury about the ethical lapses of the previous administration.

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