City Hall Insider …

What is our City Council up to these days? We have the scoop and the highlights – as well as the lowlights – of the latest council meeting.

By Charles Sercombe

The City Council met on June 28. Mayor Karen Majewski and Councilmember Shahab Ahmed were absent. The meeting ran for over two-and-a-half hours.

It’s been several months since the council discussed a proposed zoning law to regulate medical marijuana, but once again, the talk seemed to go in circles which ultimately resulted in a rejection of the proposal.

It’s been a long, sleep-inducing trip indeed. Who knew pot talk could be so boring?

So, to make a long story short, and believe us, it was long, there is no current law in Hamtramck, other than the state medical marijuana law, regulating the growing of marijuana plants and the use of the product.

More on that later.

The meeting started off with Councilmember Cathie Gordon throwing out a congratulation and thank you for retiring Police Chief Marek Kalinowski and Sgt. Wally Tripp.

As usual, the public had an opportunity to speak up.

City Council candidate Roger Lamm questioned why the council is considering a zoning law for medical marijuana. He said there is no benefit to the city to allow the growing of plants.

“How is this going to promote public safety?” he asked.

He also questioned whether it could lead to the loss of federal grants since the plant is still illegal under federal law. He also predicted that if the city allowed people to grow the plant, it would result in an increase in break-ins and robberies.

City Council candidate, and former councilmember, Robert Zwolak said the city has an “appearance” problem. He said city lots are overgrown.

“It’s unfair to the residents who live next to these properties,” he said.

(Editor’s note: Because of cuts in state revenue financial aid and increased costs in city employee medical coverage, the council previously agreed to eliminate lot maintenance, among other cuts.)

Forget about driving down Dyar St. on July 8. That’s when a family reunion will be held on the block, from Caniff to 11381 Dyar St., from 3 to 7 p.m.

The city’s finances took another hit from a 43 percent increase in medical insurance coverage for city employees and a rash of police officers – well, four of them – retiring.

Some of the officers retiring received a $75,000 payout for days off never used.

In all, the council had to approve a $1.1 million adjustment on the expense side of the city budget.

In a related discussion, Councilmember Gordon wanted to transfer $1.5 million in the budget to the city’s rainy day fund. City Manager Bill Cooper said the council can do that, but he advised waiting until after the fiscal year ends, which is June 30.

And now, sit back and light up … all you legal medical marijuana patients. The rest of you, go crack open a beer because the following discussion is pain inducing. You’ll need all the “medication” you can get your hands on.

Let’s start off with Councilmember Tom Jankowski, who has been leading the charge in drawing up a zoning law on where medical marijuana can be grown in the city.

“Here we are again,” Jankowski said in kicking off the discussion.

Jankowski said the current proposal is significantly different than previous versions, and called it a “good solid foundation.”

He also acknowledged not everyone will agree with it, but overall, it’s worth supporting.

Oh, Tom, how little you overestimate your colleagues.

Case in point: Councilmember Gordon said she still has a “problem” with the proposal. She said she wants growing facilities to be banned from the central business district on Jos. Campau.

“That’s supposed to be the heart of our city. … I don’t think it’s a good fit there,” Gordon said.

(Editor’s note: Have you noticed how many empty storefronts there are on Jos. Campau? If that’s Hamtramck’s “heart” someone call 911.)

Mayor Pro Tem Catrina Stackpoole had concerns that the zoning proposal would violate the privacy rights of patients. It was explained to her that while the city could ask for the identity of people buying from dispensaries, it does not violate their privacy because there is no mention about the nature of their ailment.

Stackpoole also said some sections of the proposals go too far, and are more restrictive than state law requirements.

She suggested striking out several clauses in the law, but did not receive support, at least when the vote finally took place.

In a side note, Councilmember Gordon admonished Councilmembers Stackpoole and Jankowski and City Attorney Jim Allen for not coming up with a proposal they all agreed on.

Stackpoole tersely retorted that they couldn’t “hammer out” an agreed on proposal because they couldn’t agree on one. And that’s why a discussion was being held.

Wooo … head rush.

Should we cut to the fitting lyric part now? No, let’s wait for the dramatic vote: Despite Stackpoole’s objection she voted in favor of passing the proposal, along with Jankowski.

And that’s where the proposal died. Councilmembers Gordon, Mohammed Hassan and Kazi Miah voted against the proposal.

Neither Hassan nor Miah voiced what their objections were.

OK, now cut to appropriate drug lyric:
“Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me
Don’t bogart that joint, my friend
Pass it over to me

“Roll another one
Just like the other one
You’ve been hangin on to it
And I sure would like a hit”

Brotherhood of Man, “Don’t bogart that joint”

Have you stopped coughing?

Onward … Councilmember Jankowski suggested not being a part of the Detroit Area on Agency, a little known agency that’s been around forever. Jankowski said Hamtramck should withdraw from the agency because “the agency has failed us.”

Despite that, Jankowski voted with his colleagues to OK the agency’s “annual implementation plan” for 2012. Well, we’re not sure how Jankowski voted because it was an oral vote and Jankowski seemed to, ah, remain mum. We think.

We’re going to wrap it up here for this week and continue with Part 2 next week. Happy Fourth of July.

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