By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — It was all hands on deck at last week’s City Council meeting for supporters of Marjorie Powell as she tries to keep the Civil Service Commission seat she has held for nearly two decades.
Several prominent community members requested that council extend the time in which Powell could take her oath of office for the commissionership, an unpaid, part-time position.
Although she was reappointed for another four-year term in May 2009 and since has continued to chair the five-member panel, Powell never took her oath, causing the seat to be technically vacant and raising questions about the legitimacy of the commission’s actions over the last year.
Margaret Blohm, a local public relations consultant, formally requested the extension on behalf of Powell, who was in the audience but under doctor’s orders to “take it easy” following a recent procedure.
“It certainly must have been an oversight, whether intended or not, that she was not sworn in at the appropriate time,” Blohm said. “It seems like you should move very expeditiously on this.”
Council President Thomas Tafelski denied the request for immediate action, saying the council had scheduled a study session on the matter for Aug. 5. He also pointed to the fact that the commission has no meetings scheduled until then.
Morris Goodman, an attorney and local media personality, subsequently approached the podium and said waiting to act would be disadvantageous to the city.
“If she’s been there 17 years, that means she’s taken the oath four times,” he said. “Given the precedent of her service, one would assume that the city of Dearborn would be well served if today, as opposed to Aug. 5, this body voted to extend the time that she can take that oath.”
Following Goodman’s comments, Councilman George Darany made a motion to extend the oath-taking window, but in a roll call vote, the measure failed 4-2 with Tafelski, Suzanne Sareini, Brian O’Donnell and Nancy Hubbard opposing and Darany and Robert Abraham in favor.
At the close of the meeting another Powell supporter, who arrived late, approached the podium and tried to appeal to the council one more time.
“This woman has given 17 years (for) free!” said Alberta Muirhead, the nonagenarian philanthropist and former department store magnate. “I don’t know anyone you can name who would do more for Dearborn.”