It took some intense negotiating and it could have fallen apart at any time, but in the end, Councilmember Cathie Gordon will remain on council.
On Monday, a majority of councilmembers agreed to a settlement with Gordon, thus averting what would likely have been a costly and grueling set of hearings. Gordon was accused of not being a Hamtramck resident and thus disqualified from holding her seat on council.
That suspicion arose after Gordon was interviewed by a television reporter several weeks ago about what affect the closing of GM’s Poletown plant would have on the city.
Gordon insists she was only being sarcastic in her response, but others reportedly took her words literally.
In the interview Gordon said she would be forced to sell her Sterling Heights home and move into her bar, the New Dodge Lounge.
Gordon’s official residency has been under suspicion ever since she filed to run for council in 2007. At that time, she said she would move from her Sterling Heights home, leaving her husband behind, and move in with her mother on Norwalk St.
After the TV report, a complaint was filed with the city attorney who then hired an outside attorney to investigate Gordon’s residency status. The most alarming evidence gathered was a Homestead tax document that Gordon signed saying she lived in Sterling Heights.
Until Monday’s settlement, the council was prepared to take testimony from people regarding Gordon’s residency. Several days were scheduled for the hearing.
Councilmember Scott Klein, who has regularly clashed with Gordon during council meetings, was the only councilmember to vote against the settlement. He said he did not think Gordon was sincere in her apology to the council and could have agreed to a settlement weeks ago to avoid legal expenses to the city.
“It was too little, too late,” Klein said. “Instead of settling, she chose to fight.”
Klein said the city’s legal fees will end up costing about $50,000, which he said Gordon should be held responsible for.
The settlement calls for the city to pay its legal fees and for Gordon to pay her own fees, which she said will end up costing about $10,000. Gordon must also remove her name from the Homestead tax document that lists her Sterling Heights home as her official residence.
Gordon further agreed to drop a lawsuit she filed against the council.
Gordon said she’s pleased the issue has come to an end but said the settlement “was not the best” deal she wanted. Asked what else she wanted, Gordon would only say: “I wish this never happened. Things got blown out of proportion.”
Asked if she thought she could continue to work with council, Gordon said, “Why not? We have one thing in common: what’s best for the city.”
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Gordon was back in form, verbally sparring with Klein and sharply questioning expenditures