It’s rare that we publish an editorial ahead of our regular Friday paper, but there is a crisis in city government that needs to be addressed.
Last week’s abrupt firing of City Manager Bill Cooper was not all that surprising, given the level of animosity lately between him and certain city councilmembers. But what was a shocker is that no one had a replacement in mind.
We take that back. Actually, Councilmember Tom Jankowski had a person in mind: Erik Tungate, who worked for Hamtramck as its Director of Community & Economic Development.
We have a lot of respect for Mr. Tungate, and he’s been a huge Hamtramck supporter.
But when it comes to filling the role of city manager, we are concerned. Yes, Mr. Tungate has several years of experience in city and county government, as well as a wealth of connections statewide.
But the one thing he doesn’t have is experience as a city manager.
Hamtramck needs an experienced city manager because we are facing payless paydays.
It appears Mr. Tungate has a bare majority support of Councilmembers Jankowski, Abdul Algazali and Mohammed Hassan.
It also appears that if there is a tie vote, Mayor Karen Majewski will vote in favor of hiring Mr. Tungate. The council is meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, March 13) to take up this matter.
We wish this vote does not happen. Instead, we urge city officials to seek the help of the Michigan Municipal League, which has a list of qualified and available city managers who would be willing to step in temporarily while a search is conducted for a permanent one.
Mayor Majewski said in a special council meeting last Friday that there is no time for a “vetting” process of candidates for the job. We respect the mayor immensely, but in this matter we have to wonder why that wasn’t thought about before City Manager Cooper was so abruptly fired.
We can’t say this enough: We need someone with direct experience as a city manager to take control of the city.
State officials are apparently keeping an eye on the city and what actions our leaders are taking. It can’t possibly bode well if we hire someone with zero experience in being a city manager.