By Ian Perrotta
The resolution of censure passed against me by the Hamtramck City Council – and the subsequent coverage (or lack thereof) by The Hamtramck Review – marks a low point in my time serving this great city.
First and foremost, the resolution of censure was not passed for the betterment of the city. Rather, it was a blatant attempt to sully my reputation. The resolution was completely unnecessary and only serves those individuals who wish to harm my standing in the community and limit my future professional opportunities.
The members of city council who passed this resolution failed to recognize that passing it will undoubtedly bring ridicule and scorn to Hamtramck. The lack of competence displayed by the passage of this resolution is astounding and is likely to jeopardize future projects that would otherwise be easily achieved.
Second, the fact that this resolution seeks to reprimand me for statements made to the media in 2017 by admonishing me in 2019 to “guard against making such … remarks in the future” raises serious constitutional questions regarding the governmental limitation of my right to the freedom of speech.
Third, this resolution raises questions about the city attorney’s objectivity. The original version of this resolution was written by the now city attorney in 2017 prior to him obtaining his current employment contract with the city, and this current resolution references events in which the city attorney was directly involved.
As such, he should have recused himself from being involved with this resolution. Alternatively, if he was not involved in creating this version of the resolution he should have urged the council to be judicious with its actions – something he did not do, despite multiple people providing reasons this resolution could have significant legal consequences.
Fourth, in addition to being false, the allegations made against me within this resolution are entirely hypocritical, and if my alleged actions truly do merit a resolution of censure then other members of council should be subject to the same fate.
Whereas I may have reacted inappropriately by merely swearing when the city attorney accused me of making decisions for the community “based on who drinks at [my] bar,” I did not react with threats of violence – something Councilman Anam Miah did do in response to my reaction.
Mr. Miah also called me a racial slur while he invaded my personal space and aggressively threatened to “beat [my] ass.” This is particularly egregious, as the inclusive nature of Hamtramck is specifically mentioned in Councilman Saad Almasmari’s resolution of censure against me – an irony that should not be lost on anyone familiar with Mr. Almasmari’s bigoted reaction to the publication of a photo that showed his presence at a wedding between two gay Hamtramck residents in 2016.
Finally, the reporting on this incident by The Hamtramck Review has been factually inaccurate and failed to capture the palpable opposition to the resolution of censure. This raises serious questions of journalistic integrity.
For example, I wrote on my Facebook page that “[t]he council used the resolution of censure for no purpose other than to destroy my reputation,” yet, the Hamtramck Review published the following quote: “They censored [sic] me for no other purpose than destroy me [sic].” If a simple quote can’t be accurately represented, what else is wrong with the reporting?
The answer, unfortunately, is a lot. For instance, despite going line-by-line through the censure resolution for a period of 20 minutes and pointing out factual issues and unsupported conclusions, one of the only mentions The Review article gave to Mayor Karen Majewski was that she “said she did not see what happened because she is shorter than the others.” The article also failed to capture any of the problems I raised regarding the resolution, despite me also speaking on the topic for a period of 20 minutes.
There is much more to say about this issue than can fit in this editorial, and I encourage readers to do their own research on the matter and form their own conclusions. This is a nuanced and complicated situation that goes back years, and very few residents are aware of how the parts and players are interconnected.
My Facebook page has videos of the last four council meetings and I also broadcast a live feed of meetings for those who are unable to watch them at home.
Regardless of this needlessly inflicted blemish to my record of public service, I will not choose to engage in the same type of retaliatory behavior by bringing my own resolutions of censure against other members of council, even though I believe that action would be objectively warranted.
Doing so would only further the enormous divide already present on council and exacerbate tensions. Instead, I will continue to serve the community with the same vigor and zeal I always have, and I will choose to look forward rather than backward as I work to make Hamtramck the best community it can possibly be.
(Mr. Perrotta is a copy editor at The Review.)
Feb. 1, 2019