DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Despite being a Council of six temporarily, it was business as usual during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
With Lisa Hicks-Clayton now treasurer, the six remaining members had a full agenda to discuss and all items voted on required a majority vote. In the event of a tie, the motions were not adopted.
Mayor’s veto of resolution
After the Council passed a resolution to allow then-Treasurer Zouher Abdel-Hak to establish different bank accounts for restricted and corporate funds, Mayor Daniel Paletko vetoed the resolution.
The resolution was put forward during the last Council meeting by Hicks-Clayton, who was just elected city treasurer during the Nov. 3 election and came after Paletko requested an audit into the treasurer’s office of the last four months due to bank accounts being created and money being moved around.
Paletko said he vetoed the motion because it seemed financially reasonable.
“We have finally come to a point where we have a cushioning of cash,” he said. “We did not have to borrow this year, but we did come close. This is not fiscally sound. If my veto is not upheld, the $2 million would have been automatically moved. I’m trying to give us flexibility. What we really have is an extra reserve and there is a lot of concern over what the next year’s funding will be for the city.”
Requiring five yes votes, the veto stands and the motion to reintroduce the resolution failed.
Council Chairwoman Denise Malinowski-Maxwell, Councilman Bob Constan and Councilman Dave Abdallah voted no, with Councilman Bill Bazzi, Council Ray Muscat and Councilman Tom Wencel voting yes.
Reintroduction of corporation counsel appointment confirmation
While the City Council and the Paletko have argued over whether or not they have a valid corporation counsel for months, Malinowski-Maxwell reintroduced the motion made by Constan back in May.
“On May 12, City Council motion 20-131 was introduced to approve the appointment of Gary Miotke as corporation counsel in accordance with section 5.15 of the city charter,” the motion said. “The motion was not seconded and therefore not considered. In the past, the mayor has said we need to take a vote on this motion. Therefore, I am asking the City Council to reconsider this motion.”
Muscat introduced the motion and Abdallah supported it.
“I believe that Corporation Counsel Miotke has been with us a long time,” Muscat said. “It would not hurt for us to bring forward new names to have new vision.”
Abdallah agreed saying that he too would like to see options.
“I believe Counsel Miotke has done a pretty good job,” he said. “But I would like to see what my options are.”
Abdallah told The Arab American News that he believes an unbiased counsel is needed.
“After so long, we should start seeking other options,” he said. “It’s hard finding anyone to come in and apply. With all of the recent resignations, it doesn’t give off a good vibe.”
The vote would have reconfirmed Miotke’s appointment for another two years.
The motion did not pass as Constan’s was the only yes vote.
The item was sent back to Paletko to find more options for the role of corporation counsel.
Resolution to have former Treasurer Abdel-Hak assist Treasurer Hicks-Clayton
In a resolution put forward by Muscat, he requested the Council to allow Abdel-Hak an appointment from Nov. 25 until Dec. 25 to assist Hicks-Clayton in the transition.
The resolution would have paid Abdel-Hak up to $8,500 for the month.
Malinowski-Maxwell said that the payment cannot come out of a revenue account, which is what the resolution was put forward to do.
“I don’t understand why we aren’t going to former Treasurer John Riley on this,” she said. “He has said he doesn’t mind helping, so I’m a little confused on this.”
Muscat said the point was to allow for Hicks-Clayton to have a transition period.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s 40 hours a week or 500 hours a week, it won’t be more than $8,500,” he said. “We paid the other person who did a transition $35 an hour.”
Hicks-Clayton said that even at full time, the $8,500 would put the income at roughly $60 per hour.
Abdallah said his preference would be to have Riley help Hicks-Clayton with the transition.
“I’m really concerned about the dollar figure,” he said. “I do believe that the new treasurer would need somebody to possibly help her in transitioning, I understand that particular process. My preference would be to have John Riley, with due respect to Zouher Abdel-Hak, with the amount of experience he has and the years he put in.”
The Council ended up voting in a tie with Wencel, Bazzi and Muscat voting yes and Constan, Abdallah and Malinowski-Maxwell voting no, causing the motion to fail.
The Council then made changes to the resolution and put forward a motion to appoint Abdel-Hak for 28 hours a week at $30 an hour and that also failed due to a tie with Wencel, Constan and Malinowski-Maxwell voting no and Bazzi, Muscat and Abdallah voting yes.
Allegations against the mayor
During the comments from the Council, Muscat made accusations against Paletko regarding an alleged unauthorized vehicle purchase.
“This will be directed at the mayor,” he said. “A few weeks ago he charged our former treasurer with not coming to City Council to purchase items. On July 28, City Council subpoenaed records from Plante Moran and from the mayor and it was a list of city owned vehicles with the VIN numbers and to whom the vehicles were assigned. I then looked at Mr. Mayor’s car, which is a 2018 Ford Taurus Interceptor. City Council never approved a new car for the mayor. The sticker price on that was over $30,000. I want to know how he got a newer car in 2018. How is it that you can go out and spend $30,000 on a police interceptor without City Council approval? That is totally wrong for you to do that. I don’t understand why you can accuse someone when you’ve had your car for two years. What else has gone on behind the City Council’s back?”
Muscat also said that Paletko is forcing his hand.
“I did say that I’d like to see records of gas and mileage driven privately and I didn’t want to do a resolution, but you’re really forcing my hand in doing that,” he said. “And forcing everybody to do a lot of homework on their vehicles and as a matter of fact there will be GPS by the time I’m done.”
Paletko said that any vehicle he has was approved.
“I indicated to you that any vehicle that is purchased is with Council approval,” he said.
Muscat interrupted, saying that there is no proof.
“I demand you show us the approval,” he said. “You need to give up that car or put your resignation in.”
When Muscat said that Paletko stole from the city, Paletko responded.
“You never apologize, you just make accusations,” he said. “You’re the liar and the thief.”
Paletko told The Arab American News that he is not yet ready to comment as he is investigating the allegations.