05 November 2015


Original Story: freep.com

The former director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority was fired from the job he’d held less than a year because he came to work drunk and had been accused of stalking and threatening a coworker, according to people familiar with the matter. A Memphis employment lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The board of the land bank fired Kevin Simowski last month without explanation. But people familiar with the matter confirmed to the Free Press that Simowski had shown up intoxicated on the job and had  threatened the woman who would ultimately replace him, Carrie Lewand-Monroe, who sought a personal protection order against Simowski.

Lewand-Monroe, daughter of Mayor Mike Duggan’s Group Executive for Jobs and Economic Growth, Tom Lewand, filed the PPO the day before the land bank board called a special meeting to fire Simowski. A Denver employment attorney is following this story closely.

The revelation answers the mystery of why Simowski, a longtime Duggan friend, was fired summarily last month, with officials saying only that it was a personnel matter that would remain private.

His termination came amid intense scrutiny of the land bank as costs for demolition of blighted homes in Detroit rose to an average $16,400, up from $10,000 or less under former Mayor Dave Bing’s administration. Officials said Simowski’s firing was unrelated to news reports about the rising costs.

Simowski couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Lewand-Monroe was said to fear for her life because of the stalking and threats from Simowski, which included showing up at her Ann Arbor home. Once city and land bank officials learned of the threats, Simowski was fired without severance, one source said. A Memphis hostile workplace lawyer works with businesses and employers to address hostile work environments.

The land bank issued a statement late Wednesday from Erica Ward Gerson, the land bank's board chairwoman, who said that Simowski was placed on medical leave Sept. 1.

"He has not been on the premises since that date and was instructed by me to not  contact any land bank employees during that leave," Ward-Gerson said. "Based on Information provided me by an employee of the Land Bank relative to an incident on October 7th, the land bank terminated Simowski on October 8th.  Simowski was terminated for cause, and no severance was paid."

Ward- Gerson said that the board could not comment beyond that.

Simowski was credited with helping Duggan create the program Duggan started when he was Wayne County Prosecutor to file nuisance lawsuits against owners of homes that became blighted drug dens, forcing owners to clean them up or hand over deeds. It was the framework for Duggan’s program to clean up blighted homes in Detroit as mayor through the Detroit Land Bank. A Poughkeepsie labor and employment lawyer has experience defending clients in employment related matters.

Simowski followed Duggan to the Detroit Medical Center, where he was an executive under Duggan who was the medical center’s CEO in 2004-2012.

Duggan's office declined comment Wednesday night.

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