Last week the issue of a city official being in default to the city arose again.
It came to light that Councilmember Anam Miah lost a property in Detroit in 2015 to foreclosure. A resident raised the issue that the city charter calls for an elected official who is a defaulter to be kicked out of office. The resident argues that Miah’s election in 2015 should be voided.
In the last few years we have also reported on other elected officials falling behind on their bills either to the city or some other government agency.
The city charter says that if an elected official is a defaulter to any government agency, that is grounds for their dismissal.
No one has ever tried pursuing this matter, and the charter does not make it clear who would instigate such an action.
Our concern is about the concept of kicking someone out of office just because they fall behind on water bills or property taxes. While that doesn’t look good for any elected official, is it really grounds to circumvent the democratic process?
Elected officials were put into office by voters, and if they want to elect someone who can’t pay their bills, so be it.
Many folks in Hamtramck live paycheck to paycheck. They understand financial hard times.
Being able to pay your bills shouldn’t be a charter requirement to hold public office – although it sure does call into question whether one in that situation can really help steer the city’s finances.
But again, that’s up to voters to decide on.
Hamtramck’s city charter has a number of questionable rules and provisions. Maybe it’s time to think about coming up with an updated one.