Now that the issue of whether City Councilmember Abdul Algazali was a “defaulter” to the city has been settled, it’s time to consider other questionable city charter provisions.
Hamtramck voters approved the charter eight years ago and since that time there have been a number of questions raised about some of the provisions.
The Algazali matter highlighted a little-known provision that says if an elected official is a defaulter to the city, the election results of that official are voided.
Algazali fell two years behind in property tax, which a number of people considered to be in default. But the emergency manager and city attorney dismissed the matter as an “oversight” on Algazali’s part.
Obviously, that provision needs to be cleared up, as well as others.
The charter also prevents elected officials from talking to department heads, which is ridiculous. We understand that the authors of the charter were probably trying to prevent elected officials from interfering with management of the city, but that provision gave elected officials fewer rights than the average resident who is free to talk to department heads.
We suggest city officials begin organizing to ask voters in next year’s primary election to approve a charter revision commission.
Let’s clean up the charter, which has served the city well, but like all things needs to be updated.
One thing we don’t recommend, however, is going away from a city manager form of government. There has been talk by some to do away with the city manager position and go to a strong mayor form of government.
The world is far too complex these days to leave the city in charge of someone not schooled in municipal management.
Let’s not go back to the bad old days when the mayor and city councilmembers bickered constantly over management of the city. That’s what got Hamtramck into a financial mess several years ago when the state first appointed an emergency manager to take over.
The city finds itself in another financial crisis not because of the city manager form of government, but largely because of labor contract issues that cannot be changed without consent from the city’s labor unions.
Only the newly-appointed emergency manager can make sweeping changes. Since we’re in the change mode, let’s extend that to the charter as well.