It’s final for city manager

City Manager Katrina Powell

City Manager Katrina Powell

By Charles Sercombe
It now looks like City Manager Katrina Powell will not get a contract extension.
Mark Stema, a member of a state-appointed financial review board overseeing Hamtramck, confirmed with The Review that the state Treasury Department will heed whatever the city council wants to do about filling the position.
The issue of extending Powell’s employment contract has resulted in a couple of heated council meetings. A bare majority of councilmembers – Anam Miah, Abu Musa, Saad Almasmari and Mohammed Hassan – have opted to seek an interim city manager while a search is conducted for a permanent one.
Two councilmembers, Andrea Karpinski and Ian Perrotta, have vehemently opposed that move, saying Powell has done a good job and the city needs continuity.
Powell was hired by the city’s former emergency manager two-and-a-half years ago. Her contract expires on June 30.
For the past several weeks there has been speculation that the Treasury Department might step in to extend her contract. At the April Receivership Transition Advisory Board meeting there was a discussion that implied the Treasury Department was indeed going to get involved in the contract by modifying the emergency manager’s final order.
At that meeting Stema asked if the board could do anything about “Katrina’s situation.” At that time the four councilmembers who have moved to seek an interim city manager also had rejected a proposal to have the city attorney negotiate a contract extension with Powell.
A representative from the Treasury Department, Patrick Dostine, replied: “Well, I guess what I can say is that the order’s been revised, and it’s under review now.”
He was speaking in reference to the emergency manager’s final order.
The Chairperson of the RTAB, Deborah Roberts, also spoke on the matter and expressed her frustration with the city council.
“I just think we’re in an unfortunate circumstance. … The RTAB was put in place to help the city transition back to local control,” Roberts said. “We’ve been here for two years. For some reason, the council is having an issue with taking that control, and wants to keep throwing it back at the RTAB.
“I think that’s a sad situation that they’ve put themselves in, so I guess we’ll all see what goes forward. I mean, it’s too bad that the local control has not come into place at this time. We tried.”
It is not clear why the Treasury Department decided to back off from taking action on Powell’s contract, but the mission of the RTAB was to only react to financial decisions by the city – not take an active role in decision-making.
Powell’s relationship with some councilmembers has been rocky during her stay. Councilmember Miah has been the most vocal opponent of her.
His main beef has been that she makes decisions without fully conferring with the council.
He was also angry over her investigation into former Police Chief Max Garbarino, which resulted in his sudden resignation – a resignation that many believed was forced upon him.
Powell never disclosed what she was investigating, and Garbarino never explained why he resigned.

Her supporters, which includes Mayor Karen Majewski, have argued that not keeping Powell is reckless and will jeopardize the progress the city has made.
The city went from a deficit budget to one with a $4 million surplus under Powell’s management. She has also put into place a long-range street repair program, among other improvements.
The big question now is: Who will be the city manager come July 1? There is speculation that the four councilmembers already have someone in mind. They have denied that.
The leading guess, though, is city Treasurer John Gabor will be tapped. Gabor was put on paid administrative leave last week by Powell after he openly criticized her proposed budget for the year at a budget meeting with the council.
No matter who it is, according to a special resolution that the aforementioned four councilmembers agreed on, that person will have to meet “charter-mandated qualifications.”

4 Responses to It’s final for city manager

  1. Neighbor

    June 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hopefully a city manager ,who will be dedicated to Hamtramck’s future without falling under any influence of others in city hall, will be chosen.

  2. Stan Zelmanski

    June 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    This is great news.

    Everyone expected that Katrina Powell would attempt an “end around” by exploiting her connections on the Receivership Transition Advisory Board – including Mark Stema – to get the City Council resolution vacating her office overturned and then cutely smirk at City Council as she retained her coveted City Manager seat – but alas it was not to be.

    Katrina’s legacy will be highlighted by:

    (A)multiple firings, suspensions and/or resignations of department heads and other key city personnel to the point that the city had trouble finding qualified applicants willing to work under her command;

    (B)a myriad of civil rights lawsuits alleging police misconduct that have resulted in large legal billings to defend and settlement payouts to citizens claiming victimization;

    (C)an abrasive relationship with the Muslim members of City Council that resulted in complaints that councilpersons were not consulted on key personnel appointments – including Police Chief Anne Moise who later found herself as a target of several federal civil rights lawsuits;

    (D)a City Hall with current vacancies in the directorships of the public works department, finance department, city treasury and personnel deficiencies in the police department and other vital areas of municipal operations that have impacted the ability of the city to deliver reasonable and effective city services to its residents;

    (E)an acrimonious relationship city vendors – including Chuck Smith and CPI Excavating – who often claimed payment defaults and filed successful lawsuits to collect against the City of Hamtramck for breach of contract.

    City Council never hired Powell – she was picked by former Emergency Manager Cathy Square – and the only “cheering sections” she had were Mayor Majewski, Ian Perrotta, and Andrea Karpinski as well as some TAB Board members and department heads – such as Mark Ragsdale. It is a wonder why she was picked when her last two city manager posts resulted in her not lasting a year before either her firing or resignation.

    Many civic leaders and other citizens are cheering the end of Powell’s reign in Hamtramck.

  3. Roadman

    June 4, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Poetic justice.

    Sic transit gloria.

    Au revoir, Ms. Powell.

  4. Resident

    June 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    This resident thinks The City Manager did a great job. She could have done better or outstanding job, but a “great job” is nothing to be disappointed about. Having lived in this town since early 2000’s, this resident has seen many ups and downs of previous city managers and mayoral control, and this resident thinks this City Manager is definitely the best.

    The City Council is the board that hires The City Manager just like the board of the Ford Motor Company who hires and fires CEO like Mark Field (even after making Billions in profit). This resident does think The City Manager could have demonstrated her respect for The City Council a bit more.

    The City Council has spoken. There is nothing that stops this City Council from speaking again. This resident hopes The City Council speaks again and rehires This City Manager.

    -Resident- Income Tax & Property Tax Payer

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