Recently there was a brouhaha made over three city councilmembers initially refusing to pass a city budget.
They were warned of dire consequences if they refused to OK this budget, which is a budget they had no part in creating. It was a adopt it or else situation. The three councilmembers in question, Anam Miah, Mohammed Hassan and Robert Zwolak, eventually gave their approval.
But lost in the handwringing over this budget was a very legitimate grievance they have.
This was a budget prepared by former Emergency Manager Cathy Square, who did not involve the council in the creation of it. Yet, here was situation that the council was being asked to sign off on a document, despite not having any say in the budget.
And that essentially was the frustration being played out by those three councilmembers.
For 18 months Square was in total control of the city and its financial decisions. Hardly ever, if at all, did she invite city officials to be a part of the decision-making process.
It was a slap to their face.
After all, it was the council who requested the state to declare a financial emergency after they did everything they could to come up with a balanced budget. But there were some things they could not change, and that was mainly labor contracts and pension obligations.
They had no way to force change, and hence they were stuck.
When Square came in, she got the concessions she needed because the state had a very convincing weapon it could have used: declaring bankruptcy and wiping out all the contracts.
City officials did the responsible thing and called in for help. But despite that, the state treated them with no respect. City officials were left out of all important decisions, and although Square promised to create workshops on financial planning, none were ever held.
And when it came time to give approval of a budget for this coming financial year, the state asked/demanded the council to rubberstamp it.
Can you blame some on council for balking at that request?
On top of all that the state further clipped the wings of the council and greatly limited its role in ongoing decisions. In fact, department heads are not allowed to talk to city councilmembers or the mayor – our elected representatives in government.
You call this a democracy?
The state has greatly overreached in its dealing with Hamtramck. The people of this city deserve better.