City councilman triples salary of worker who had been DPS double-dipper

- Three months ago, FOX 2's M.L. Elrick revealed that taxpayers were paying Carol Banks to do two jobs.

He also found that Banks sometimes billed the Detroit Public Schools and the city of Detroit for working the same hours as ombudsman for the school district and chief of staff for a Detroit city councilman.

The investigation cost her one of those jobs, but the city council tripled her salary.

Carol Banks had it pretty good for a little while there, making $60,000 a year as Detroit Public Schools ombudswoman and another $20,000 as chief of staff for Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson.

"She's a very valuable person," Benson said.

And, you would think, a very hard worker. After all, you'd really have to hustle to work more than one job. But there's just one problem. When Elrick started watching Banks, he found that she wasn't working very hard at either job.

Elrick: "Just wondering why you don't give the city and the school district what it pays for."

Carol Banks: "What do you mean; I'm on my way to work now."

Elrick: "We've been watching you and you charge the city for time and you charge the school district for time - but you don't give anybody a full day's pay."

Banks: "That's not true."

Elrick's investigation prompted the school district and Detroit's inspector general to do their own investigations.  With two clouds hanging over her head, you might think Banks was too hot to handle.
Benson saw it differently and tripled Banks' contract. In November, he increased her city deal from $20,000 to $60,000 a year.

That seemed mighty odd, so Elrick called the councilman to discuss it.

When he didn't respond, Elrick sent him a text. After waiting nearly two weeks for Benson to return my messages, it was time to go get some answers.

Elrick: "Excuse me, councilman Benson."

Scott Benson: "You can't come on my property. Get off my property."

Elrick: "We've been trying to catch up with you."

Benson: "Get off my property."

Elrick: "I'm on your neighbor's property. We've been trying to catch up with you in city hall. Why are you giving Carol Banks a big raise. She's driving without a license, she's under investigation."

Benson left Elrick standing by the curb.

Elrick learned how Benson's neighbors feel about Banks' deal, but still had questions that needed answers. He called the Detroit Public Schools and they told me their investigation was done and so was Banks.

"When you brought those allegations to our attention, we took them very seriously," said Michelle Zdrodowski of DPS. "And we began an investigation on Sept. 11 and Ms. Banks was placed on administrative leave. And as a result on Dec. 4 she was released from her employment with DPS."

Elrick: "So she was fired?"

"She is terminated from her employment with DPS, correct," Zdrodowski said.

This was news to Elrick and he couldn't help wondering what the councilman knew.

Elrick: "Hey councilman, can we get a minute of your time this morning, we need to talk about Carol Banks. She's been fired by the Detroit Public Schools and you're tripled her contract. Can you explain why that's in the best interest of Detroit taxpayers?"

Benson: "Get off the property, please."

Elrick: "Would you come and talk to us? If I step on the sidewalk, will you come and talk to me. This is public property. This is a public official and some people would say, in America, public officials answer questions."

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