By Charles Sercombe
There is going to be a shake-up in the city’s Human Relations Commission, the mayor has said.
The commission became embroiled in a controversy about displaying a pride flag on one of the 18 city-owned flagpoles on Jos. Campau.
Commission Chairman Russ Gordon raised the flag at the request of the chairman of the city’s Arts and Cultural Commission – although who asked for the flag to be displayed then became an issue of who said what.
That question has even caused some sharp words, with Mayor Amer Ghalib accusing some folks of lying.
Mayor Amer Ghalib said the Human Relations Commission was out of line in deciding on its own to raise the flag without a meeting and motion of the commission.
Ghalib pointed out that the commission, which he called “dysfunctional” on his Facebook page, hasn’t had a meeting in over two years.
That’s partly because the commission is comprised of 12 members.
It’s been hard to get enough of them to show up for a quorum, which thus prevents the commission from taking action on any item.
Ghalib told The Review:
“I’m in the process of searching for committed members who will make the commission functional and diverse and who will work with us to bring the community together.
“I’ll remove the ones who don’t attend, and that is a valid cause for removal.”
He added that the chairman, Russ Gordon, will remain as chairman.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, the council approved the mayor’s appointment of Armani Asad to the commission.
Asad has run for local offices in past elections, and recently lost his bid to become a Wayne County Commissioner member.
Asad is no stranger to politics. Back in 2014, Asad was one of four area men who were convicted of illegally handling absentee ballots.
The issue of the city displaying a pride flag came up last year when one was flown on a flag pole in the city-owned Zussman Park, located across from city hall.
Protest over the display came mostly from the socially conservative Muslim community.
Opponents of the flag say that it needlessly causes division in the city.
The mayor, who is Muslim, said it is indeed a divisive issue, but he added, “It’s not my issue.”
He also said that, when he became aware of the flag on the Jos. Campau flagpole, he was “told by the city officials that the DPW is ready to take it down, and I told them no, don’t do that!”
The pride flag issue has become another wedge in the cultural divide between those of the Muslim faith and politically progressive members of the community.
The Muslim community was also heavily opposed to marijuana dispensaries opening here.
Posted: Aug. 12, 2022
Mark M. Koroi
August 19, 2022 at 1:24 pm
This article underscores the fact that the various boards and commissions in the City of Hamtramck are often riddled with vacancies and absentee members that confound the respective public body’s ability to function properly.
The City Council and City Manager should:
(A) actively recruit members of the community to fill vacancies;
(B) contact local civic organizations to contact their respective membership to see if they wish to serve on a board or commission;
(C) allow non-residents who are qualified to serve on municipal boards and commissions.
In many local cities, such as Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Birmingham, appointments to city boards and commissions are competitive and only highly-qualified applicants receive such appointments.
The City Council should consider dissolving boards and commission bodies that are chronically dysfunctional and serve no useful purpose. The Human Relations Commission may fit this criteria if they cannot overcome the problems cited in the article.