Detroit Land Bank Authority executive director Saskia Thompson has resigned following pressure from the board of the agency responsible for helping eliminate the city's blight.
Thompson's resignation was announced at a Friday special meeting, called after Deadline Detroit on Wednesday reported the effort to oust her. She'd helmed the agency since September 2017.
No official reason was given for Thompson's departure. Board chair Erica Ward Gerson, a mayoral appointee, only praised her at the Friday meeting and Thompson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
A source familiar with the inner workings of the Land Bank said the pair had a strained relationship, due in part to what they characterized as Gerson's "micromanagement" of the agency.
During her four year tenure, Thompson helped dramatically reduce the number of abandoned houses in the agency's inventory and expanded eligibility requirements for residents to purchase vacant land for cheap. But despite the gains, the Land Bank remained the source of ample controversy, including investigations over its now-concluded demolition program and frequent complaints from residents who feel they've been unfairly prevented from purchasing property.
Those issues did not seem to motivate Thompson's removal, however. One board member who did not want to be named declined to specify why she was targeted or any performance issues she may have had.
Thompson, whose salary was $174,000, will be replaced on an interim basis by deputy director Tammy Daniels, who has a legal background that Ward Gerson said would be helpful for the role.
"I think we're going to be very successful in taking the Land Bank to the next level," Daniels said after her promotion was unanimously approved.
Thompson’s removal follows that of Detroit fire chief Eric Jones. That was also unexplained, with Mayor Mike Duggan saying only that he wanted a “new direction in leadership.”