Skubick: Bonus paid to State Civil Rights Department head draws criticism; chief declines extra pay

UPDATE: (AP) – The director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is turning down a $24,740 bonus that was approved by a state commission in a closed-door vote.

Agustin Arbulu said in a statement Tuesday he appreciates the “vote of confidence” from the Michigan Civil Rights Commission at its September meeting, but says those “taxpayer dollars can be put to better use in programs that directly benefit the people of this state.”

The statement came after the City Pulse newspaper in Lansing recently reported that the bonus was approved in secret Sept. 18 in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act. The department’s spokeswoman described it as an inadvertent oversight.

The Detroit News reports Arbulu’s annual salary is $152,250. The department investigates civil rights complaints and engages in educational and outreach efforts.

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The State Civil Rights Department director was given a $24,700 bonus and a key state lawmaker is saying he wants the Civil Rights Commission to rescind it or else.

In a closed door meeting the State Civil Rights director Agustin Arbulu was granted a 16 percent bonus of $24,700.

“It’s a bit absurd. Nobody should get that high of a bonus,” claims State Rep. Steve Johnson. The lawmaker goes on to say he does not believe Arbulu deserves the bonus.

The co-chair of the commission is “absolutely comfortable” with the bonus saying, “it is based on performance. He has put in extraordinary efforts.”

State Senator Jim Ananich comments “maybe they had a good reason for it but I think the public has a right to know what it is. Some people don’t make $24,700 a year and to give that as a bonus is a little excessive.”

The Civil Rights Commission points to the Flint water crisis report that the executive director worked on as part of his accomplishments.

But Senator Curtis Hertel Jr, with plenty of state employees in his backyard, says those workers are doing a good job as well and they are getting nothing and still struggling to make ends meet.

“We haven’t grown in wages for a very long time and when you start giving bonuses to top level management of 16 percent I dont think it looks good for anybody,” said the senator. “It causes a morale problem.”

State Senator Jim Stamos, the chair of the civil rights budget, wants the Commission to rescind the bonus and if it does not, he’ll move to take that money out of the department budget.

“I hope they have a public hearing that reconsiders that and if they don’t I certainly look to a negative supplemental,” said Sen. Stamos. “That means we would be reducing their budget by a substantial amount.”

Sen. Stamos said that would send a message.

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