State Rep. Olumba has missed over a third of House sessions - KMSP-TV

State Rep. Olumba has missed over a third of House sessions

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State Rep. John Olumba State Rep. John Olumba
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

In the movies, Ferris Buehler was famous for playing hooky. Here in Michigan, we have our own real life Ferris Buehler, and his name is John Olumba.

If you are asking who is John Olumba, here is a better question. Where is John Olumba?

Olumba holds a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, but he does not always use it. Even his fellow Democrats are buzzing.

On March 6, Representative Sam Singh tweeted, "Looking for my new seat mate."

A day later, Singh zinged, "The watch continues: A Samuel Beckett sequel "Waiting for Olumba."

"I'm not the one who likes to hide in Lansing behind taking votes," Olumba said.

Olumba would rather hang out in Detroit. In fact, he is running for mayor. Talk about a full-time job!

"The people of the city of Detroit trust me because of the work that I've put in," Olumba said.

Olumba sure talks a good game. Last year, he told The Michigan Citizen the top two issues for Detroiters are "work ethic" and the "integrity of public officials."

His campaign literature says he is "industrious," "diligent" and "hard- working." However, when we checked, we found that he was hardly working.

On May 21, instead of going to work, Olumba watered the grass. A few hours later, he was sporting his snazzy Olumba for Mayor T-shirt and posing for photos.

The next day he was just late for work, but first came a very important meeting on his porch with his wife. Then it was back to work on the lawn. After all, that grass is not going to water itself!

We caught up with Olumba outside his Detroit office to get some answers, and surprise, he was running late.

M.L. Elrick to Olumba: Shouldn't you be in Lansing right about now?

Olumba: I'm headed to Lansing right now.

Elrick: You've got the worst attendance in the entire state House.

Olumba: But my voting record speaks for itself.

Fair enough, so I checked the official record, the House journal.

A Fox 2 analysis found that as of May 29, the attendance rate for Michigan House members averaged nearly 99 percent.
Olumba scored around 65 percent.

He has missed more than a third of the House sessions this year, failing to show up at least 17 times, and when he did bother to make the scene, he was often late. He has more than a dozen tardies.

According to MichiganVotes.org, Olumba also failed to vote more than 50 times. Again, that is more misses than any other lawmaker.

The guy in second place is Senator Bruce Caswell, who missed 41 votes. If that sounds bad, consider that the Republican from Holland had a really good excuse. He was in the hospital having hernia surgery, and even then, he limped back to Lansing so he would only miss two days of work.

Olumba admitted that he misses votes, but said he is there for the important ones.

"I've never missed a vote that pertains to Detroit or is important to Detroit," Olumba told us.

Zach Gorchow said that is just not true.

"He's missed votes on the budget, Detroit Public Schools, City of Detroit, revenue sharing for the City of Detroit," he told us.

Gorchow is the editor of the Gongwer news service, which scrutinizes the actions of lobbyists and lawmakers in Lansing. Gongwer reported last month that the powerful Appropriations Committee almost booted Olumba for missing a meeting, but a colleague asked to excuse him "So Mr. Olumba would not get kicked off."

Gorchow said Olumba missed another Appropriations Committee meeting earlier this year, and it was a doozy.

"It was the one where they were working on the finalization of the budget. So to not be there for that, you're basically missing maybe the most important meeting they'll have all year," he told us.

Still, Olumba said he is not a slacker.

Olumba to Elrick: I work overtime," he told us. "When I come back home from Lansing, I'm right back at the community meetings.

Elrick: There are people who say you don't put in a full day, let alone working overtime.

Olumba: That's their opinion, but my constituency will speak otherwise.

Now there is an interesting theory. To test Mr. Olumba, we went to a spot just down the street from his district office.

Elrick to Yvonne Woody: Do you know anything about the lawmaker John Olumba, who is your state representative?

Woody: Never heard of him.

Elrick to Clyde Bevelle: He says he's the hardest working man in Lansing and that people in his district know who he is.

Bevelle: I don't know him. I never heard of him. He's a foreigner here. He's an alien. ... If I knew him, I'd let you know about it.

Elrick to David Hayes: If a man misses a lot of work and misses a lot of votes, do you still think that makes him hard-working?

Hayes: Hey, from what I know this guy works hard and take care of business.

Elrick: His business or your business?

Hayes: His business, our business, everybody's business. Just know John Olumba is all right.

Olumba to Elrick: I really like to spend time with my constituency.

Elrick: So who did you meet with today?

Olumba: I met with my father.

Olumba's attendance is an issue for Detroiters, who deserve a strong voice in Lansing, and every Michigan taxpayer. After all, it is our tax dollars paying Olumba's salary of more than $71,000.  However, that is not all Olumba gets. He can also collect more than $10,000 in expenses. The problem here is that those payments are paid on the assumption that Olumba actually goes to work.

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