By Charles Sercombe
Four days into his new job, former Hamtramck Emergency Financial Manager Lou Schimmel is already making enemies in the City of Warren.
According to a recent report in the Macomb Daily (and linked by the newest Hamtramck related website, insidehamtramck.com), Schimmel has been dubbed “hatchet man” for proposing to lay off 23 Warren police officers.
Schimmel is an appointee of Mayor James Fouts and earns $80,000 a year as an executive administrator. Schimmel’s key role is to help Founts downsize Warren’s government workforce. Schimmel will also be the lead negotiator for Warren’s union workers.
Warren is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit.
Cutting down the size of a city and its workforce is nothing new to Schimmel. While financial manager in Hamtramck from 2000 to 2006, he sold off the Department of Public Works equipment, including its building, and contracted out most of the work.
He further whittled down the number of city employees through retirements and buyouts.
He also got the firefighters’ union to agree to fewer benefits for new-hires. When he left, Hamtramck was close to being financially solvent.
Hamtramck’s budget was eventually balanced by the city’s first-ever city manager, Donald Crawford.
Crawford was critical of the way Schimmel handled Hamtramck’s labor contract with the firefighters’ union. Crawford was replaced by a new city manager two years ago after falling out of favor with some councilmembers, who declined to renew his contract.
Reached by phone, Crawford said Schimmel’s deal with the firefighters’ union to give them a bonus in exchange for limited benefits for new-hires cost the city “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“That was a disaster,” Crawford said.
As for Schimmel’s proposal to lay off 23 Warren police officers, judging by the tactics Schimmel used in Hamtramck when it came to contract negotiations, consider it a way to get the officers’ union scared and willing to agree to anything to save their jobs.