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A city council divided

Councilmember Ian Perrotta (right) was censured by a bare majority of councilmembers.


By Charles Sercombe
In a rare move, the city council censured a fellow member.
During an emotionally draining council meeting on Tuesday, there was more than just a public rebuke at issue: the disciplinary move against Councilmember Ian Perrotta revealed a deep rift among the councilmembers.
The resolution to officially “censure” Perrotta was submitted by Councilmember Saad Almasmari, who chastised Perrotta for comments he made two years ago and a confrontation during a recent closed-door council meeting.
Councilmembers Anam Miah, Abu Musa and Fadel Al-Marsoumi joined in on the resolution of censure.
Councilmember Andrea Karpinski was opposed as well as Perrotta, but both asked their vote to be recorded as a non-vote.
So, what is a censure?
It is a public reprimand – or public shaming – that does not remove a councilmember from office.
It simply criticizes a member for his or her behavior or conduct.
(Editor’s note: Perrotta is a copy editor for The Review. He played no role in the editing or proofreading of this story.)
As for specifics of the censure, it’s long and complicated.
For the record, Perrotta said the allegations are unfounded and are an attempt to smear him. Perrotta further said it is an orchestrated attempt at preventing him to become a licensed attorney.
Perrotta is in his last semester at Wayne State University’s law school.
“The council used the resolution of censure for no purpose other than to destroy my reputation,” he said on his Facebook page the day after the meeting.
He is threatening to file a lawsuit against the city for defamation, saying it could jeopardize him from becoming an attorney.
The censure took issue with comments Perrotta said in 2017, but did not specify what those comments were other than being about “recent immigrant arrivals to Hamtramck insinuating that, as a group, they lacked basic knowledge of and adherence to community norms related to sanitation and property maintenance.”
The crux of the complaint was that Perrotta’s comment was of the mindset of a “European and Western cultural superiority over many of the immigrant cultures represented by members of this Council and the broader community.”
Perrotta said then his comments were taken out of context and was only meant to spur a citywide education program to get all households to dispose their garbage correctly.
There have long been complaints of households throwing out garbage in bags or loosely without using city-issued garbage cans.
As for the incidents that happened in a December closed-door meeting, Almasmari accused Perrotta of “physically assaulting a member with whom he disagreed and by attempting to provoke physical altercations with other members.”
Both Perrotta and Almasmari filed counter-charges of assault with the police department. Councilmember Miah also accused Perrotta of assaulting him.
Perrotta vehemently denies he assaulted anyone. Instead, he said he was pushed by Councilmember Miah into Almasmari and that he gently pressed his finger against Miah’s chest to ward him off.
He also said that Almasmari brushed his city-issued notebook against the side of his face.
None of the allegations have led to criminal charges or convictions.
Councilmember Karpinski was absent from the meeting. Mayor Karen Majewski said she did not see what happened because she is shorter than the others and that she could not see around them, but did say there was inappropriate behavior “on both sides.”
This isn’t the first time Perrotta has faced criticism from fellow councilmembers.
Councilmember Anam Miah submitted a resolution of censure against Perrotta in 2017 about Perrotta’s comments about how to educate the city’s immigrant population on the proper ways to dispose household garbage but withdrew it.
Again, Perrotta said his comments were not meant to disparage immigrant communities in the city, but only to formulate an education for the city at large.
In the meantime, there were several residents who said this spat casts Hamtramck in a bad light.
“This in-fighting makes me want to not live here,” said Jean Johnson.
This is not the first time there has been friction among city councilmembers.
The last significant flare up was in the 1990s when city councilmembers were at odds with each other and counter-threats of censures were made.
Until recently there has been relative peace among councilmembers for the last several years. But the nature of Hamtramck politics over the last several decades has consistently been contentious.
(The Review will have more on this subject in next week’s issue.)

Here is a link to the council resolution censuring Perrotta:$file/Resolution%202019-07%20Approving%20Censure%20of%20Councilman%20Ian%20Perrotta%20for%20Assaultive%20Abusive%20and%20Uncivil%20Conduct.pdf




Jan. 25, 2019

12 Responses to A city council divided

  1. Fatema Hossain

    January 26, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    “None of the allegations have led to charges or convictions.”

    Why not? Has the City Attorney been submitted reports by the investigating police personnel? Have the police actually questioned witnesses present at that December 11th closed session?

    Was the sergeant-at-arms in the room during the closed session? Perhaps that practice should be started if it was not done so already – and the proposed resolution makes direct reference to a sergeant-at-arms being used for any future problems that Ian Perrotta may cause.

    This article does not reflect that the proposed resolution had made explicit reference to Councilman Perrotta’s conducted directed to a unnamed female city employee being possibly abusive and tending to create a hostile work environment. The resolution does not specify who that employee may have been or what Mr. Perrotta may have done that could conceivably be described as abusive or hostile. The resolution in these regards created more questions than it answered about the full nature of the allegations against Mr. Perrotta.

    The City Council owes the public an explanation as to what specifically occurred in closed session on December 11th – otherwise Mr. Perrotta can continue to deny any misconduct occurred on his part and the public will be forced to speculate. The City Council should also clarify about the resolution’s reference to Perrotta’s alleged adverse behavior toward a female city worker.

    A menacing cloud hangs over the political career of Councilman Ian Perrotta and some closure is necessary for all.

  2. Fatema Hossain

    January 26, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    The Hamtramck Review should post a link to a copy of the resolution passed by City Council last Tuesday – it is a historic document.

  3. Dennis Nowak

    January 26, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Karen Majewski’s version is “inappropriate” actions on both sides. That certainly creates doubt that any “assault” happened at the hand of Ian Perrotta.

    The sad part of this story was that no one really knows what occurred other than the participants themselves.

    Ian should wear this censure as a “badge of honor” for his unpopular work in speaking out against the City Council’s majority clique.

    Voters in 2017 remembered the abuse he suffered due to his remarks – and decisively returned Ian to his Council seat.

    Ian has been a valuable member of the community.

  4. Tea Party Patriot

    January 27, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Quick Questions for the City of Hamtown:

    Who is the female employee that City Council found Perrotta used “abusive language” to on Dec. 11?

    What was the nature of the “abusive language” made to the female employee?

    Did local police question ALL witnesses at that session where the alleged assault occurred?

    Who was present during the incident? It would appear that only Councilperson Karpinski was absent and Abu Musa, Fadel Al-Marsoumi, City Attorney James Allen and City Manager Kathy Angerer would have also been present in addition to Karen Majewski Anam Miah, and Saad Almasmari, who already have been acknowledged as having been present during the incident.

    Has the Hamtramck Police Department released its records regarding its investigation of the incident?

    Was the sergeant-at-arms, presumably Chief Anne Moise, present during the Dec. 11 incident or nearby so as to be a “first responder”?

    Why was the Michigan State Police or Wayne County Sheriff’s Department NOT brought in to investigate the incident so as to avoid an appearance of a possible conflict of interest in having the Hamtramck Police Department investigate members of a public body that supervises their operations?

    Why was this incident not made public knowledge until almost one month after it happened – and then only when a private citizen (Cathie Gordon) raised the matter during the public commentary period of a City Council meeting?

    What were the nature of the alleged “communications” made with that “female employee” by Perrotta which create the risk of a “hostile work environment” for that employee and others?

    Was the “abusive language” referenced as occurring on December 11th toward the female employee also made at the closed session where the alleged assault transpired?

    Who drafted the resolution to censure Ian Perrotta? Was it the City Attorney? What was the source or sources of information he used to prepare the censure document in question?

    What is the identity of others that Ian Perrotta purportedly tried to “provoke physical altercations” with”?

    Answer these questions City of Hamtown.

  5. Tea Party Patriot

    January 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    @Dennis Nowak:

    The fact that Karen Majewski is NOW stating she witnessed inappropriate behavior on both sides begs the question why she did not disclose this publicly when it first happened and begs a second question as to why “both sides” had not been considered to be censured – only Ian Perrotta.

    A full and complete police investigation should have been conducted with ALL witnesses providing statements to police personnel and a written report directed to the City Attorney for decision.

    It is unknown at this point whether or not there had been a police investigation the “abusive language” of a female employee that Ian Perrotta allegedly committed or when on Dec. 11 that incident may have occurred. It is also unknown as to who may have witnessed such alleged conduct.

    Absent Cathie Gordon coming forward publicly to confront City Council about this incident, it likely would have been successfully”swept under the rug”.

    The manner in which city officials have handled these accusations against Ian Perrotta is as questionable as the allegations themselves.

  6. Ed Clark

    January 31, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Firstly, I believe that Ian Perrotta has been a valuable member of the community and has accomplished many laudable objectives,including the progress that has been achieved on the ongoing renovation plans for the Hamtramck Stadium.

    That said, I believe that Perrotta’s antagonistic personality has alienated many in the city who have dealt with him and his conflicts with others have hindered his ability to facilitate progress on City Council and have compromised the city in being able to run effectively.

    I am particularly stunned at his recent criticisms of his own employer, the Hamtramck Review, who should be commended for their even-handed and thorough coverage of the recent conflicts on City Council and the eventual censure vote.

    Ian is in need of self-examination and needs to take the censure in the spirit of constructive criticism. His behavior and attitude needs to change. Period.

  7. Anon

    February 1, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Even handed? The mayor dissected the censure line by line for 20 mins and it wasn’t even mentioned in the article.

  8. Anonymous

    February 1, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Ian is the only person on Council I see going to events outside of his own cultural group. I’m not sure why those four are attacking him, but he does more for the city, in the city and around the city than anyone on Council.

  9. Anon

    February 1, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Hmmmm, Ed Clark has a manner of speaking very similar to councilman Faded Marsoumi. Surely just a coincidence, as Ed Clark is well known in and around Hamtramck…. perhaps he is very good friends with Sam Harris?

  10. Carrie Beth Lasley

    February 1, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Even-handed coverage? A joke. Not only does it not print Karen’s dispelling, but it ignored more egregious actions by councilmembers raised in the same meeting. Ian is not the one in debt to the city while taking a salary from our tax dollar.s

    Why does the Review continuously ignore the debt that Councilman Almasmari is to the city? Over $5,000. It was brought up in this same meeting, but the even-handed coverage appears more interested in supporting Almasmari’s personal attacks on Ian than it is actually holding council members accountable.

    Oh, and if you’ve ever heard the dude speak, clearly the first comment is Fadel Al-Marsoumi. It looked like he stayed up and refreshed until it went live last night. Pathetic.

    His reason for supporting the censure was essentially stated that Ian didn’t want to be his best friend and it really hurt his feelings. He really had nothing to say about the activity alleged in the censure. In fact, he endorsed Ian after much of the behavior in the censure he suddenly is for. He ran with him (and with Monzurul at the same time), and benefited from his coat tails to eke out 3rd place.

    I’ve heard about his time at HHS. Can’t imagine why he’d struggle to make friends after he beat up on everyone.

    Once a bully, always a bully, right, Fadel?

  11. Stan Zelmanski

    February 1, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Fadel did not run on a slate with both Ian and Monzarul simultaneously.

    After Ian made the controversial comments reported in CBS, Fadel dropped him from their “slate” and joined Monzarul.

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