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New Year starts with a familiar look at city council

A news crew for a German television station came to this past week’s city council meeting to revisit an old story.

By Charles Sercombe
It may be a new year but there is one story that keeps repeating here in Hamtramck – almost like the movie “Groundhog Day.”
A few years ago, it seemed the world was abuzz that Hamtramck had the first-elected majority Muslim city council in America.
Reporters and documentarians from all over – and especially from Europe – swarmed here to get “the story.”
On the most part, the reports were fair and balanced. Some, on the other hand, didn’t resemble reality. And that reality is, Hamtramck wasn’t transformed, life went on, people for the most part get along and there is still plenty of political bickering just like there has been for decades.
As January kicked off, the first city council meeting of this year was attended by a journalist from a German television company.
We didn’t get a chance to chat much, but the reporter said his television outlet was interested in simply “following up” on the city council ethnic/religious make-up.
If he was looking for sparks, the council did not disappoint. First some background:
During a closed meeting at the last council meeting in December, there was a dustup between Councilmembers Ian Perrotta, Anam Miah and Saad Almasmari … and maybe a couple of others in the room.
There were no fisticuffs but there were implied physical threats and maybe even a little poking.
Long story made short, Perrotta filed a police report after the meeting, and Miah and Almasmari may have also followed suit. But then things quieted down and the complaints appeared to be going nowhere.
The nature of the disagreement has not been made public.
But former Councilmember Cathie Gordon stirred the pot at Tuesday’s council meeting and “for shamed” Perrotta for his behavior.
Perrotta’s brother, Andrew, also jumped into the fray, blaming whatever happened on a mutual “toxic masculinity.”
The brief, but fiery, exchanges will probably make what’s considered good television for the folks in Germany. And the reporter, who we did not get his name, thought it was, well, something.
“Did you see that?” he said to a Review reporter.
The dust has still not settled over the closed-door incident. There is a tentative resolution that might come forth to “censure” Perrotta for whatever happened in the closed-door meeting as well as other actions that occurred in 2017.
Just to keep things in perspective, Hamtramck has a long history of physical combat among city officials. Around here, it’s known as a city council meeting.
For those of you who have been here a number of years, think of the infamous garbage can incident at a council meeting in the 1990s era.
We can also remember a 1980s incident where a certain councilmember “invited” another councilmember to a challenge of fisticuffs.
Trust us, this is just touching the surface of Hamtramck’s bare-knuckled politics.
As the saying goes: “What’s old is new again.”
And as they say in television land, stay tuned.

Jan. 11, 2019

4 Responses to New Year starts with a familiar look at city council

  1. Kerry D.

    January 16, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    How can anyone be censured until the public knows what the facts are?

    From what I have heard is that witness statements WERE taken by the Hamtramck Police – however no one involved in the incident wanted to follow through with pressing forward with a criminal investigation and hoped that evening’s “melee” would blow over and tempers would cool down.

    When the facts are known each party implicated in this little brouhaha or hubbub needs to publicly apologize and acknowledge how missteps such as these can harm the city’s image.

  2. Frank J. Bass

    January 17, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    The irony here is that this story was suppressed from the public for fear of creating adverse publicity for the city – but this German news crew captured Cathie Gordon’s statements and the incident now presumably is going to cause the city to suffer a black eye – at least in Germany.

    The last time that Ian Perrotta’s questionable conduct became a news story, there was no censure vote and Perrotta merely apologized in public during a City Council meeting to defuse the issue.

    As of yet, there has been neither a censure vote nor an apology.

    There needs to be accountability so that future similar conduct will be deterred. The citizens of Hamtramck deserve better.

  3. Roadman

    January 24, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    @Guest:

    Nice link to the Detroit News article about the controversial COBRA unit and yet another lawsuit naming Hamtramck Police Officer Michael Stout and the City of Hamtramck.

    While so many media outlets are fixated upon the economic impact of the GM Poletown plant planned shutdown, few have discussed the projected financial impact the COBRA suits will have on the municipality.

    The only bright aspect of the Detroit News article is that the City of Ecorse – a participating community of COBRA – is finally being named as a defendant, so liability can be spread around and another “pocket” is available to satisfy a future monetary settlement.

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