By Charles Sercombe
To just about no one’s surprise, Interim City Manager Max Garbarino was hired to take over the job fulltime.
In a unanimous decision, the city council awarded the job to Garbarino at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Garbarino has been acting city manager since July, when former City Manager Kathy Angerer resigned to take a job with the state’s agriculture department.
She is now Acting Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Garbarino is one of a dozen or so city managers the city has had since 2005, when the city reverted to a city manager form of government instead of having the mayor in charge of the city’s financials.
That change required voters to update the city charter.
Some of the city managers in the past lasted only a few months, weeks, or days before either being fired or moving on. That was during a period of political and financial turmoil in the city.
Hamtramck still has some financial challenges ahead. Overall, the city has enjoyed a balanced budget for several years, although in recent years that required dipping into a budget surplus.
And according to a budget review for the city council on Tuesday, there are dark financial storm clouds forming in the near future.
Garbarino was one of three candidates interviewed for the job. While there were originally over 130 applications submitted, most of the candidates didn’t come close to having the required qualifications.
Garbarino was, in fact, the only candidate to have municipal experience.
Also in the running was Asm “Kamal” Rahman, who was a runner-up in the process. Rahman, of Detroit, has also run unsuccessfully for Hamtramck mayor a few times. He works for the City of Detroit as a Departmental Fiscal Manager.
The third-place candidate was Muhammad Baqir Muhyedeen, of Dearborn. He is a Senior Public Policy and Strategy Manager for the Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation.
Muhyedeen has no municipal experience.
Interviews were conducted in private by City Attorney Odey Meroueh, who led them; Mayor Pro-Tem Mohammed Hassan; councilmembers Nayeem Choudhury and Mohammed Alsomiri; Deputy City Manager Maali Luqman; and Human Resources Payroll Coordinator Mashana Burton.
In the past, city managers here have earned in the range of $110,000 a year, plus various benefits.
Garbarino, who had been the city community liaison and was tapped to fill in as interim city manager, said he was “honored and humbled” to be appointed to the job. He said that a year ago, he would have declined the offer.
“I would have said you’re crazy,” Garbarino told the city council.
But with a changeover in staff in city hall, Garbarino became comfortable with the job.
“I started adapting to the role,” he said. “I love this city.”
The city attorney was instructed to negotiate an employment contract with Garbarino.
Not everyone was pleased with the hiring.
A candidate interviewed for the job, Muhammad Baqir Muhyedeen, sent an email to the city, which was read during public comment at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Muhyedeen said that the questions he was asked “were geared toward a specific candidate.”
He did not name that candidate.
Muhyedeen went to say that while Garbarino was the only one with city manager experience, the other candidates, such as himself, had “transferrable skills” that qualified them.
He said other candidates, such as himself, would bring “new ideas and new energy to city hall.”
Muhyedeen called for a second round of interviews, but this time held in public for the sake of “credibility.”
Posted Feb. 17, 2023
Update: The print version of this article incorrectly said that Kathy Angerer is the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. She is the Acting Director of that department. The Review apologizes for the confusion it may have caused.
February 20, 2023 at 1:42 am
People still ask:
“Why was Maxwell Garbarino placed on administrative leave by City Manager Katrina Powell in 2015?”
Who knows the answer to that question?
Would the true answer made a difference in City Council’s hiring decision for City Manager?
In any event, the City Council’s decision in hiring Maxwell represents the culmination of his political resurrection – and God knows he has had both his supporters and detractors in his journey back to the corridors of power on Evaline Street.
Maxwell has been a controversial character indeed!