Vote against loan puts Hamtramck’s future in jeopardy


Yes, that’s the word to describe the actions of City Councilmembers Tom Jankowski, Kazi Miah, Mohammed Hassan and Cathie Gordon. These four councilmembers voted against having the city apply for a state loan that will keep the city afloat for the next year-and-a-half.

Their majority vote against the loan means there’s no chance of getting one, at least at this point.

By rejecting the loan, these four councilmembers have elected to do absolutely nothing about the city’s financial crisis. It means the city will be broke in about two months, unable to pay employees or vendors.

It means it will open the door for state officials to appoint an emergency financial manager to take control of the city. It will mean a loss of local control and possibly – possibly – the merging of Hamtramck into Detroit.

What we have here is a financial crisis and a crisis in leadership.

The action of these four councilmembers is so egregious we’re tempted to recommend their recall from office.

They have shown complete disregard for the health and well-being of our community. They have shown an utter lack of understanding on how to govern a city.

By allowing the city to crash full speed into insolvency, it’s a good guess that state officials are going to take a dim view of ever allowing local control to return.

After all, it’s just been four years since the last state-appointed EFM left town. Why should state officials agree once again to clean this town up and return it to the locals?

As for the reasons behind rejecting the loan, give us a break.

Councilmember Jankowski first said the city unions have to agree to cuts before he will agree to take a loan. Then he said he’s rejecting the loan because he doesn’t think the deficit recovery plan that the city manager drew up is adequate.

Councilmember, even if you got the unions to agree to contract concessions today, the money from those savings wouldn’t roll in until about a year from now. The city will still go broke in two months.

And as for the deficit plan, Jankowski has found fault with every bit of financial information the city manager submits to the council. He obviously has a bone to pick with City Manager Bill Cooper. That’s fine, but don’t do it at Hamtramck’s expense.

Councilmember Gordon didn’t really offer a clear cut reason why she’s against the loan other than to agree with Jankowski that the deficit reduction plan isn’t up to snuff.

Councilmember Miah insists more cuts are needed in the budget and even suggested hiring a new city manager. First, because of contract obligations and minimum staffing requirements in the police and fire departments, the only cuts left will result in a savings of $200,000.

The city is facing a $3.5 million deficit. Gutting City Hall won’t get you near that amount.

And as for finding a new city manager, good luck with that. First, the current contract with Cooper would require the city pay him $100,000 to exit. Next, try to find another city manager when the city is going to be broke in two months and will face being taken over by the state.

Who in their right mind would volunteer to find himself without pay in two months and then be out of a job?
Councilmember Hassan is also of the belief that more cuts can be made, but then he also added that he has a house in Warren, and although he loves Hamtramck, he could easily move out.

Well, that’s nice to know that he and his family can escape Hamtramck when there’s no money to pay for police and fire service. Hopefully, voters will send him off to Warren soon.

On the flip side of this issue, Councilmember Catrina Stackpoole and Shahab Ahmed, as well as Mayor Karen Majewski, should be praised for having the courage to support the loan, which in turn would give the city time to work itself out of this financial jam.

We’re crossing our fingers that reason will prevail and that another vote will be taken to OK the loan application. Perhaps this is a calculated step to wake up the unions, but it sure smacks of reckless brinkmanship.

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