Questions raised over ex-city manager’s ‘purchase’ of a laptop

Former City Manager Katrina Powell is seeking to purchase her work laptop, but the city is saying, sorry, no sale.

Former City Manager Katrina Powell is seeking to purchase her work laptop, but the city is saying, sorry, no sale.

By Charles Sercombe
On the way out the door of city hall, former City Manager Katrina Powell took something with her.
A city-issued laptop computer.
She left a check to purchase it for $1,200, and claimed to have city permission to do so. She said Mayor Karen Majewski signed off on the deal. Powell said that City Attorney John Clark also authorized the purchase.
But according to Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer that’s not accurate. She said Clark insists there is no deal for her to purchase it, and that the city does not want to sell it.
The issue came to light at last Tuesday’s regular meeting of the state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board. The board has final authority over all city financial decisions.
Powell, whose last day of employment with the city was June 30, was not on the agenda for the meeting, but she spoke during the public comment portion. She read a prepared statement outlining why the purchase is allowed.
She ultimately asked the RTAB to step in and allow the purchase to go through. Powell also told the RTAB that the city’s IT contractor had archived all of the files – including emails — on the laptop and had then “scrubbed” it of all stored information.
Acting City Manager Angerer told the RTAB the city does not want to sell the laptop, on the advice of the city attorney.
There was also one other snag. Deborah Roberts, the chairman of the RTAB, said there was a requirement made by the former emergency manager that the city come up with a policy on disposing city-owned assets, such as laptop computers.
Angerer told the RTAB that as far as she knows, no such policy exists.
The city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager for 18 months before Powell was hired. Powell was city manager for two-and-a-half years. Her employment contract was not extended by a bare majority of the city council.
It was not immediately known why Powell never addressed creating a policy on disposing city assets.
The RTAB declined to get involved in Powell’s request to purchase the laptop, saying it’s a matter for the city to decide.
After the meeting Powell was handed back her check for $1,200. Powell then turned to city Treasurer Joy Gargano and told her to deposit it. Acting City Manager Angerer interceded and told Powell to not involve Gargano.
As of Thursday, the day The Review went to press, Powell had not yet returned the laptop.
The city is refusing to deposit her check.
Angerer told The Review that she is talking with City Attorney Clark about what steps to take if Powell refuses to return the laptop.
It’s not clear why Powell is going to such lengths to purchase the laptop. As city manager she earned over $100,000 a year, and she also is an owner of a vehicle lease company in Florida, where she came from.
The laptop matter could next go to city council to allow the purchase. But if the council authorizes the purchase, it would still have to be OK’d by the RTAB.

3 Responses to Questions raised over ex-city manager’s ‘purchase’ of a laptop

  1. Neighbor

    August 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Don’t worry. She will eventually return with a brand new hard drive.
    Another reason why letting her go was the right decision.

  2. Roadman

    August 26, 2017 at 12:44 am

    “She said Karen Majewski signed off on the deal. Powell also said that City Attorney John Clark also authorized the purchase.”

    Okay, Katrina, produce the document that Karen allegedly signed. Show us, also, some proof that the City Attorney “also authorized the purchase.”

    Why would a city-owned laptop need to be “scrubbed” of “all stored information” and WHO scrubbed it? Where are the “archived files”?

    Who would pay $1,200.00 for an old and used laptop computer?

    This is all very, very strange. Maybe City Council should demand a forensic examination of the computer before it may consider selling the laptop to Powell?

  3. Saleema Ahmed

    August 26, 2017 at 2:17 pm


    The disappearance with the laptop computer at Powell’s office almost coincided directly with the disappearance of City Attorney J. Travis Mihelick – who stopped being seen at City Hall at meetings with the members of the administration and City Council in late June.

    According to a media release, Mihelick in December of 2015 became a partner in the Giarmarco Mullins Horton law firm servicing the City of Hamtramck – but per State Bar of Michigan records downloadable online at the State Bar’s website Mihelick now is employed by a firm with a small law office in Troy as of several days ago.

    Mihelick had been employed with the GMH law firm since he was admitted to the bar in November of 2009 and his departure has prompted speculation on why he left that firm after stopped servicing the City of Hamtramck in June. Neither GMH or the City of Hamtramck has issued a public statement on the reasons for Mihelick’s departure as City Attorney or his accepting employment at another Troy law firm.

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