Update: A special city council meeting was held Friday evening (Aug. 31) to appoint Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer as the new city manager. Mayor Karen Majewski was expected to make the meeting, and she has said she is in favor of the appointment.)
By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck almost had a new city manager this week.
But the vote to hire Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer got tangled up in the one thing that is constant in this city: Politics.
It appears Councilmembers Anam Miah, Abu Musa, Saad Almasmari and Fadel Al-Marsoumi are in favor of hiring Angerer.
But Councilmembers Ian Perrotta and Andrea Karpinski are opposed and are accusing them of foul play.
That’s because Hamtramck voters just agreed to a city charter revision on who can qualify for the job of city manager. The requirements were greatly loosened.
A majority of the council agreed last February to allow voters to decide on the charter revision. The thinking then was it would allow the city to widen the pool of candidates who would otherwise be shut out from consideration because they did not meet the job requirements.
It was thought that a number of qualified candidates were disqualified in the city’s last search for a city manager because they didn’t have the exact title or required experience, but would have been a good fit. Out of a field of nearly 40 only three met the qualifications, and out of that group only one candidate was recommended by the city search firm to be interviewed.
That candidate was turned down.
Angerer has been the acting city manager for the past year and two months, replacing the previous city manager who was not rehired after her employment contract expired.
Perrotta wrote on his Facebook page that he was “disgusted” that the bare majority of councilmembers decided to forego the search and instead hire Angerer.
“In February it was decided by a majority of council that the search for a full time city manager would be suspended so the City Charter requirements could be amended in order to widen the net of potential applicants,” Perrotta said.
“Now, the very same colleagues who argued that we need to have a wider search appear to be attempting to circumvent a new search entirely. This is because a new search will undoubtedly provide several extremely qualified candidates, effectively taking their preferred candidate out of the running.”
At Tuesday’s council meeting a resolution to hire Angerer and have the city attorney draw up a three-year contract was on the agenda.
But before that vote could happen, Councilmembers Perrotta and Karpinski walked out, which resulted in a loss of a quorum – or enough present councilmembers – to hold a vote.
Councilmember Almasmari was absent and so was Mayor Karen Majewski, who would have also been eligible to vote on the matter.
Councilmember Miah, who was chairing the meeting in Majewski’s absence, defended the resolution. He said Angerer has proven that she can do the job over the past year.
“Even if we find a good candidate and hire them, it will take a year for them to get up to speed on city matters,” Miah told The Review. “Why lose the momentum?”
Councilmember Al-Marsoumi, who presented the resolution, agreed.
“Her past government experience exceeds the charter’s requirements. She’s been doing a good job,” Al-Marsoumi told The Review.
As for Mayor Majewski, she too told The Review that a search for a city manager would slow down progress happening in the city.
“What I value is continuing that progress and stability,” Majewski said.
Councilmember Perrotta told The Review he doesn’t think hiring a city manager will slow anything down.
“Conducting a search for a city manager does not have to disrupt progress in this city, and adding capacity by hiring a qualified and experienced city manager while keeping Ms. Angerer on staff could only improve things,” Perrotta said.
It is expected that the resolution to hire Angerer will appear again at the next city council meeting, Sept. 11, which is when it’s also likely that the mayor and Councilmember Almasmari will be present.
Aug. 31, 2018