City Hall Insider … 2/13/24

By Charles Sercombe
The city council met on Feb. 13, and all councilmembers, except Abu Musa, were in attendance.
Annual reports were submitted by the Downtown Development Authority, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Arts and Culture Commission and the Beautification Commission.
The DDA report said, in part:
“In years now long gone, the DDA had a six-figure annual budget, full-time staff available to support our local business owners, and financial resources dedicated to business development within the Hamtramck Central Business District.
“While the state of the DDA has recently been much more tenuous, particularly given ongoing operating budget constraints, this vision of an active, engaged, and well-resourced organization is what we are striving to rebuild.
“In the coming year, we plan to take concrete steps towards this restoration, including bringing on a Deputy Executive Director, rolling out a new social media campaign, and progressing towards accreditation under the Michigan Main Street Program.”
Some of the accomplishments and services of the DDA include:
• Ramadan free parking
• Holiday lighting
• Snow removal
• Tree trimming
In the past year, the DDA reported, 14 new businesses opened in the city. They include:
Rosemarine Textiles, 11443 Jos. Campau
Hamtramck City Outlet, 8826 Jos. Campau
Taj Al Nisa, 9410 Jos. Campau
The Black Salt, 2764 Florian
Sisterhood Fitness/One New Humanity, 10200 Joseph Campau
City Deals Liquidation, 9801 Jos. Campau
Home of Elegance, 10001 Jos. Campau
Royal Mart, 11325 Jos. Campau
The Fashion Station, 11625 Jos. Campau
Antar’s Hardware, 10200 Jos. Campau
Showtime Detroit, 9704 Jos. Campau
Beauty and Elegance, 9546 Jos. Campau
Kitab Cafe and Bookstore, 2727 Holbrook Avenue
Ittadi Halal Food Market 11916 Jos. Campau

A presentation was made by Paul Urbiel, Senior Principal Planner of McKenna, which is a community design company, about the possible redesigning of Conant.
The McKenna group says that Conant has the following challenges:
• Unsafe vehicle speeds are encouraged by wide lanes
• Not enough pedestrian connections, crossings
• Inconsistent street parking
• Dangerous intersections
Some solutions include:
• Clear lane markings
• Narrow travel lanes
• Curb extensions
• Mid-block crossings
The next step in studying Conant is to apply for a $2-$3 million federal grant.
Councilmember Mohammed Hassan questioned who brought up the issue of Conant. Community and Economic Development Manager Karolynn Faulkner said the issue came up in a prior council meeting.
City Manager Max Garbarino said “This is not a small project. This is just the very beginning.”
Later in the meeting, Hassan said he is opposed to making changes on Conant because it will hurt businesses.
He also insisted that the city not install parking meters, especially the ones used on Jos. Campau.
Garbarino said parking meters are not being considered, and assured Hassan that businesses would have a say in any possible redesign.
Mayor Amer Ghalib said he is opposed to installing bike lanes and narrowing the street.
Councilmember Hassan said that, since the presentation included a suggestion to narrow Conant, it’s likely a done deal.
“If we see that, that is the plan, and eventually they’re going to go for it,” he said.
The council OK’d seeking a grant, but Hassan objected.
During public comment, several people spoke in favor, and support, of a council resolution called “Move the Money,” a national call for the president and congress to cut funding for the military and instead redirect it for social services and welfare.
The resolution was presented by Mayor Ghalib.
The resolution read, in part:
“… According to the National Priorities Project, cutting $100 billion from the Pentagon budget could pay for: the clean energy and childcare provisions in the Build Back Better initiative; power every household in the United States with solar energy; hire one million elementary school teachers; furnish free tuition for 2 out of 3 public college students in the U.S.; and could send every household in the U.S. a $700 check to help offset effects of inflation. …”
A resident, who spoke in favor of the resolution, said that the U.S. is “funding a genocide in Gaza.”
Later in the meeting, Mayor Ghalib said passing the resolution would make Hamtramck the first community in the nation to take this position.
“We hope our government will listen to us and to the people of the U.S.,” Ghalib said. “Local communities are suffering and struggling.”
Ghalib added that the U.S. has been supporting oppressive regimes around the world.
“I think we should stop that. Democracy is our main value here,” he said.
Ghalib also said that he questioned why the Congressional representative for Hamtramck’s district, Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), would not commit to calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Ghalib said he was told that Thanedar “only has one view.” Ghalib did not elaborate on the comment. But Ghalib said he hopes there will be someone elected to Thanedar’s seat “that will listen to our concerns.”
Thanedar is up for re-election this November, and he will face several challengers.
In a statement that Thanedar released on Feb. 23, he said, in part:
“I support efforts for a ceasefire in Gaza, which must begin with Hamas releasing all hostages and Hamas’s military infrastructure being dismantled. Alongside this, we must ensure humanitarian aid reaches the Palestinian people directly, differentiating their plight from the actions of Hamas.
“Israel has a right to defend itself, and the Israeli people deserve to live without terrorism or harm. The Palestinian people also deserve self-determination and security. However, we cannot achieve long-lasting peace and security in the region with Hamas.”
Ghalib’s resolution was unanimously approved.
Continuing in public comment, Bill Meyer said that there have been accusations that one or two councilmembers do not actually live in Hamtramck.
“You know who you are,” Meyer said. “So what’s the right thing to do?”
As for the Arts and Culture Commission, Meyer said it “focuses on a very specific portion of Hamtramck.”
Meyer did not specify what “specific” community the commission was focusing on.
He said the commission needs to “broaden their concept of art and community, and include everyone.”
In new business, the council agreed to hire a website design company, Schumaker Technology Group, out of Lansing, to redo the city’s website. The contract is good for one year with a one-year option to renew.
The company is charging $4,995 for the design and $2,500 for maintenance.
In another matter, the council agreed to a contract change with the police department’s Command Officers Association of Michigan to allow the police chief to take over the decisions of whom to promote to the department’s detective bureau.
Prior to this, the department promoted officers to the bureau based on seniority.
In a note to the council by the city manager, it was said:
“Formerly, these positions were selected based upon seniority, rather than the chief’s discretion and merit as they should be. This agreement corrects that, and also makes some other minor language adjustments.”
Posted March 8, 2024

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