How Bad is Nepotism in Detroit Government? A City Councilman Hired His Mother As His Chief of Staff

April 03, 2023, 2:15 PM by  Allan Lengel

Council members Coleman A. Young II, Angela Whitfield-Colloway and Clerk Janice Winfrey

Many government agencies and private businesses have nepotism rules to avoid appearances of favoritism, conflicts of interest and other work related problems.

Then there's the city of Detroit.

Detroit Free Press investigative columnist M.L. Elrick reports in his Sunday column that nepotism is alive and well in Detroit government:

"Here in Detroit, where former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave friends and family cushy city jobs while laying off city workers, there are no rules prohibiting Councilman Coleman Young Jr. from hiring his mother as chief of staff, Clerk Janice Winfrey from hiring her daughter and later one of her sons, and Councilwoman Angela Whitfield-Calloway from hiring her daughter as communications manager."

"We got a city charter that doesn't forbid city officials from hiring kids, cousins or concubines. It only requires 'a public servant who exercises significant authority" to disclose when they are hiring an "immediate family member.' The ethics ordinance defines that term so narrowly that it only covers spouses, lovers, anyone claimed as a dependent on the official's taxes and 'an individual who lives in the household of a public servant.'

Young, who took office in 2022, is unapologetic about hiring his mother Annivory Calvert at $86,700 a year.

"She brings the whole package," he tells Elrick, adding that he calls his mom "Ms. Calvert" in the office. Young is the son of the late Mayor Coleman A. Young.

City Council member Whitfield-Calloway, Elrick reports, has hired her daughter, Jaylinn Calloway, as her communications director for $71,300. 

Colloway says she sees no conflict of interest, saying:

"I knew that hiring my daughter was the best decision for me. I know about the work ethic she has."

To read the full column click here.

Editor's Note: We are working on preserving our stories at the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library. In the meantime, we are occasionally posting new stories.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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