By Charles Sercombe
Councilmember Ian Perrotta’s political woes are not over.
On Tuesday, Councilmember Mohammed Hassan emailed a press release announcing that he and others in the community – including six current and former councilmembers — have taken the first step toward recalling Perrotta from office.
None of the councilmembers were identified in the press release.
This is the first recall effort in over 20 years in Hamtramck. In the 1990s, there was a series of recall elections. Most of those recall elections were unsuccessful, but there was one in which two school boardmembers, including the then-board president, were successfully ousted.
The three reasons stated for seeking Perrotta’s recall focus on his two council censures, and, in general, creating a hostile work environment in city hall.
One of the two censures happened just several weeks ago, and the second one happened in 2019.
Both center on his treatment of city employees.
“As a matter of principal, elected officials do not support recalls,” Hassan said in his press release. “But Mr. Perrotta is a special case. He had shown, repeatedly, an inability to contain his anger. This has created an unsafe environment in city hall, and in our community.”
Perrotta has earlier said that his censures were politically motivated, but he has also apologized for his behavior.
In 2019, the censure alleged that Perrotta assaulted a fellow councilmember and made physical threats to other councilmembers, but did not provide details. Perrotta said, at the time, that it was he, who was assaulted.
The censure also accused Perrotta of using “abusive language toward a female employee on December 11, 2018 and communications with this employee since that time have the potential of creating a hostile work environment for her as well as any other employees subjected to it. …”
In the most recent censure, he was cited for “bullying” a city employee, and berating that employee over a zoning issue he was seeking for his bar, Trixie’s on Carpenter.
The employee in question was not identified.
Perrotta, who is finishing up his first full term, admitted he had used “cuss” words with the employee, but said that the censure had more to do with smearing his reputation.
At Tuesday’s regular council meeting, Perrotta alluded to the recall effort, saying: “It’s pretty unfortunate so much focus is on me by other members of the council, and not the community at large. It’s shameful. But it is what it is.”
Perrotta and Hassan have exchanged heated words in previous council meetings.
In his press release, Hassan said he was motivated by trying to get Perrotta to address his emotions.
“We have nothing but love for Brother Ian,” Hassan said, “It is clear that he needs professional help to find the maturity he needs to be able to control his emotions, and respect all of the people all of the time.
“He will never seek, or find, the help he needs, as long as he holds a seat on council, and it has become clear that as long as he holds a seat on council, city employees and residents are not safe. That’s why community leaders and current and former council members began the process of recalling Mr. Perrotta from his seat on council.”
The Wayne County Election Commission has already set a Zoom meeting to consider the clarity of the recall language for Oct. 8 at 12:30 p.m. The three-member commission members are Chairman Freddie G. Burton Jr., Chief Judge, Wayne County Probate Court; Secretary Cathy M. Garrett, Wayne County Clerk; and member Eric Sabree, Wayne County Treasurer.
The public may watch the meeting via a Zoom link. To see the meeting, go to the Wayne County Election Commission website for the link.
If the language is approved, Hassan will then have to collect voter signatures from at least 25 percent of the voter total who participated in the last election for governor, which is over 1,000 signatures.
It is likely that, even if all of those requirements are met, it will be too late to schedule a recall election for this November.
However, according to the state law on recall efforts, an elected official cannot be recalled in their first or last year of their term — if their term is longer that two years. Perrotta’s term is for four years, which expires at the end of 2021.
The earliest special election allowed by state law would be next February, which falls within Perrotta’s last year of his term.
What’s unclear is whether a recall started prior to that would be allowed to go forward.
Sept. 25, 2020