By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck Common Councilmembers gave Acting City Manager Kyle Tertzag a mixed message at Tuesday’s council meeting.
On the one hand, a bare majority of the council rejected his recommendation to allow Tertzag to rebid contracts from outside contractors as he sees fit.
But on the other hand, they agreed, after a heated debate, to allow Tertzag to ask the FBI to look into the billing of contractors.
The interest in contractors comes after a private financial forensics company, SRR, found incomplete invoices from three contractors.
One of the contractors, Platinum Landscaping, had over $36,000 in invoices that could not be reconciled.
Another contractor, ADR, which provides computer and IT support, was found to be working for the city without having a contract.
A third contractor, C.P.I., billed the city for work that was not spelled out in its contract.
In the past few weeks there had been talk of expanding the review of invoices with SRR, but Tertzag said that would run over $10,000 – at the very least.
“We don’t have the money for that,” he told council.
Instead, he suggested asking the FBI, Michigan State Police or the state Attorney General’s Office to look into the billing.
Councilmember Robert Zwolak, who at the last council meeting called for an FBI investigation, wanted to expand the invoice review to all city contractors, not just the four looked at by SRR.
Councilmember Tom Jankowski disagreed. He said the city can’t ask the FBI to “look at so and so and so and so.”
“That would be nuts,” he added.
Mayor Karen Majewski said that since the city already has a report on four contractors, which also included the city’s law firm, it’s easier to ask the FBI to focus on them.
During the discussion, Councilmember Cathie Gordon lashed out and abruptly announced she was leaving the meeting.
“I’m out of here,” she said as Councilmember Anam Miah was saying: “It is not a witch hunt. This is about fixing the wrong.”
But after a few minutes Gordon returned, just in time for the vote.
Gordon voted along with her colleagues in supporting a motion to ask the FBI to look at the contractor invoices.