Breaking news … As The Review went to press Thursday afternoon City Manager Katrina Powell announced that she was exercising her city charter duty and appointed Police Chief Anne Moise as Acting City Manager.
City Attorney John Clark also said that the city council’s appointment of Treasurer John Gabor as acting city manager made earlier in the week was invalid. He said it was the city’s manager’s job to appoint the acting city manager.
The city council, however, has the authority to reject Moise’s appointment and make their own. The council’s action must also be approved by the state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board, which next meets on July 25.
Clark also said that Lieutenant Steven Smiscik will serve as acting chief of police while Moise is acting city manager.
Powell’s employment contract with the city expires at midnight, June 30. Powell did not tell councilmembers whether she planned to appoint an acting city manager.
According to Mayor Pro Tem Anam Miah, police officers have been instructed to not allow Gabor to enter the city manager’s office. Miah told The Review that as far as he’s concerned, Gabor is the legitimate acting city manager.
Miah acts in place of the mayor during her absence. Mayor Karen Majewski is in Poland.
By Charles Sercombe
Following the rejection of one interim city manager, the city council took another stab at making an appointment.
And once again the candidate is no stranger to the city.
City Treasurer John Gabor was tapped at Tuesday’s city council meeting to be the acting city manager starting this Saturday, July 1.
City Manager Katrina Powell’s employment contract expires after June 30. A bare majority on city council, Anam Miah, Abu Musa, Saad Almasmari and Mohammed Hassan, rejected extending her contract.
Powell has served here for the past two-and-a-half years.
The issues of extending her contract and filling her position have become heated and contentious for the past few months. The council has been divided on the issue 4-2, with Mayor Karen Majewski siding with Councilmembers Andrea Karpinski and Ian Perrotta in favor of keeping Powell.
The majority of four councilmembers initially appointed Kyle Tertzag as interim city manager, but that appointment was struck down on Tuesday by the state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board.
The board said without explanation that Tertzag was not qualified to hold the position despite his past history of being an acting city manager in Hamtramck for over a year and a city administrator for the downriver community Woodhaven prior to that.
Gabor’s appointment still has to be approved by the RTAB, but that board doesn’t meet until July 25.
Gabor was placed on paid leave by Powell three weeks ago after he spoke out suddenly and critically during a budget work session with council and Powell.
Powell also has the power by city charter to appoint an acting city manager to take over after she leaves the job – subject to council approval. As of Thursday, when The Review went to press, she did not present an appointment.
The Review emailed Powell about whether she planned to make that appointment but she did not respond.
Gabor’s appointment was not smooth. The bare majority who voted for him had to suspend procedural rules in the council meeting to make the appointment. That suspension of rules may be subject to review and reversal.
Councilmember Perrotta said he was not against Gabor’s appointment but thought it would be better to do so in a special meeting to avoid violating any rule on the proceeding.
Councilmember Karpinski demanded to see Gabor’s resume. He was in the pool of candidates for the city manager’s job that was presented over two years ago. It was the same pool of candidates that included Powell.
The emergency manager at the time hired both – Powell as city manager, and Gabor as treasurer.
Gabor’s contract as Treasurer also expires with Powell’s on June 30.
Sources in city hall said the relationship between Powell and Gabor was distant at best.
The road to appointing an acting city manager has been rocky to say the least. Tertzag’s appointment came in a special meeting that was thrown together at the last minute and ignited a backlash from residents.
Reached by telephone, Gabor told The Review: “My intent is to go in as planned until someone tells me otherwise.”
The resolution hiring Gabor did not include a salary or for what length of time. Gabor told the council, however, he can be here three to four months.