By TOM TIGANI
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — The future of an effort launched last week to recall five City Council members awaits a ruling tomorrow by the Wayne County Election Commission.
Petitions to recall council members John Delo, Jacklyn Molner, Herman Ramik, Dennis Stapleton and Suzanne Weycker were filed Feb. 1 by residents Sheila Gorski-Shulte and Roseanna McGuckin-Hammons, alleging fiscal irresponsibility. The commission will rule on clarity of the petition wording, the first step in the recall process.
The five have opposed the removal of a council secretary by Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand and refused to approve his change in city attorneys. The secretary’s cost to the city is more than $50,000 annually; the attorney change would save $60 an hour.
The five council members also voted to hire their own attorney at $185 per hour whose first move was to file the suit against Lamarand and Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke, saying that they interfered with the five’s rights as a body.
On Feb. 5, however, Lamarand was ordered by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Susan Borman not to interfere with the rehiring of the secretary by the council, but that his firing of the former city attorney would stand.
“We have a right as seven council people to decide who the secretary is,” Molner said. She’s “not very happy” with the recall effort and believes the council has been responsible with residents’ money, adding that the position is necessary to handle council business because of the size of the city.
Molner said while spending for the attorney may have offended some residents and the mayor, “we felt we had no other recourse and nowhere else to go” to oppose what they believed were violations of the city charter.
Ramik agreed that the council needs its own secretary and defended the actions of his four peers.
“If they want to recall me and cost the city $40,000, $50,000, 60,000, that’s their right,” he said last week. “Just because they vote me out doesn’t mean Butch Ramik’s going away.
“You have to trust the people. I always have. There must be some trust out there somewhere.”
Delo said he didn’t like the idea of being like previous councils that were viewed as rubber stamps for previous mayors. He said he opposed the personnel moves in question because he thought it was the right thing to do because Lamarand was overstepping his boundaries.
“I’m so far from being a rubber stamp that people are angry,” he said of the recall effort. Lamarand said he is not supporting or initiating the recall.
“It’s not coming from me,” he said. “It would be unfortunate if we were subject to that, because there’s nothing positive about it.”