By Charles Sercombe
Another year has passed, and regular readers of The Review know what that means.
It’s time once again that we uncover our crystal ball and take a look into what the new year has in store for us.
So far, residents have not skipped a beat on the marijuana issue that has lingered over from last year. In fact, it’s heating up – at least on social media where a lively back-and-forth exchange is taking place between those who oppose allowing recreational pot stores from operating here and those in favor.
As we pointed out last week in our Newsmaker of the Year story, the issue has widened a cultural divide.
The Bengali and Yemeni communities – who happen to be Muslim — have been behind preventing this type of business, and the young white community is determined to make it happen.
That divide has played out in the city council where the Muslim majority members have recently adopted an ordinance to ban future marijuana outlets from operating here.
So far, it looks like two or three dispensaries were able to sneak in and open up when it was still legal to do so here in town.
The debate has not only been intense, but at times has spurred ethnically divisive language.
This issue isn’t going anywhere soon.
There is a petition calling for the council to reconsider their vote on the marijuana ban. It’s likely a majority on the council will uphold the ban.
That will then trigger a suspension of the ordinance until a citywide election is scheduled – which according to state election law can’t happen anytime sooner than this coming May.
In the meantime, there is speculation that during this suspension period, other marijuana retail outlets can come in and open up. That scenario is not guaranteed because all of this is uncharted legal territory, and there no telling what state regulators will allow.
Some of those opposed to marijuana sales want to take things one step further. They insist that the city can shut down the retail outlets that have already opened – something that will surely become a legal battle.
Hang on, this issue is a roller-coaster ride.
While all this is happening, Hamtramck’s city government continues its march into financial insolvency.
In short, the city is spending more than it is collecting in taxes and from other revenue sources.
Some of it is due to the ongoing COVID pandemic that has sharply curtailed property and income tax collection because so many people are either unemployed to otherwise financially strapped because of the disease.
In other words, many residents are simply too broke to pay their taxes.
The only question is, will another financial collapse result in the state stepping in for the third time in 20 years to take over financial management of the city?
If the past is any guide, heck yes. It’s just a matter of when – not if – or so it appears.
Hey, sometimes Hamtramck can pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat.
Talking about city government, this year is an election year for three council seats and the mayor’s position.
Councilmembers Ian Perrotta, Fadel Al-Marsoumi and Saad Almasmari have terms expiring this year.
The big question is whether Mayor Karen Majewski will seek another term.
If so, and she wins, she would be the longest serving mayor in Hamtramck. However, word has trickled down that Majewski will not throw her hat in the ring again – but then, again, she’s bounced back before.
As they say, never say never.
For most students, so far stay-at-home virtual learning is in place, although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is allowing in-person classroom learning to return starting in March.
It’s up to local school officials to make their call on that. So far, the Hamtramck Public School District is eying a way to feather back in students over the next few months.
Hamtramck’s bar and restaurant scene continues to be heavily handcuffed with on again, off again statewide bans on dining and drinking inside venues.
Several of our clubs are also where various bands play. The music scene – here and nationwide — has taken a huge hit.
There is also a question of how many bars and restaurants can survive a prolonged close down.
So far, it looks like Paczki Day will be much scaled down to just where bakeries will be selling Hamtramck’s prized baked good that has all of metro Detroit in a tizzy about during the kick-off of Lent – known as Fat Tuesday.
In other words, no Mardi Gras parties at local bars and veterans posts.
And it also looks like that once again the annual Hamtramck Music Festival and Hamtramck Labor Day Festival — and various other church festivals — will have to take another pass.
Dang this COVID.
For some, the work beats on. The reconstruction of Caniff, from the I-75 freeway to Jos. Campau is scheduled to take place this year. Just when it begins is not yet known. The project is out of local control and is being overseen by the state Department of Transportation, which is funding it.
That project continues a larger effort to repair the city’s aging roads and water and sewer system.
During the last two years, Holbrook was rebuilt, including new water and sewer pipes. Also, for the past few years, the city’s gaining alleys have been repaved, but only a handful each year.
Once again, The Review will be here for another year to record the never-ending winding road of Hamtramck life.
Posted Jan. 22, 2021