By CHRIS JACKETT
DEARBORN – When anonymous letters questioning City Council President Thomas Tafelski’s past began showing up in mailboxes throughout the city in summer 2009, there was no definitive evidence of where they originated.
When postal inspector Carla Menendez revealed Jan. 7, 2010, that one such anonymous letter sent to the Times-Herald Sept. 21, 2009, had its postage stamped by the Pitney Bowes machine at Kenwal Steele, a privately owned company where incoming Councilman David Bazzy serves as president and chief operating officer, attention turned toward him.
When asked about the letters last month, Bazzy said, “I’m finding out there are a couple letters sent out to the editors. There were tons of anti-Tom Tafelski letters that were nasty. One came to my house. I don’t know anything about the letters.”
Since that story ran in the Nov. 24 Times-Herald, Bazzy’s version of what happened has changed slightly.
Told that “someone” said they had talked to Bazzy outside of the Fairlane Club and that he had admitted sending the letters, the councilman-elect denied portions of the allegation. Bazzy said he was walking out of the club and was asked a question as he and Dearborn Public Schools Education Foundation Chairman Brian Mosallam crossed paths.
“That is complete nonsense,” Bazzy told the Times-Herald last week about the allegations. “Brian Mosallam is full of it. I received three to four letters in the mail at Kenwal and two at my house. I forwarded one to (another local newspaper) and one to the Times-Herald and let them figure out if there’s any truth to it. Those are the two that were mailed from Kenwal.”
Bazzy said in November that he had no knowledge of the letters or how they were sent to the local newspaper editors. The letter received by the Times-Herald in 2009 had no indicators of being mailed previously. It was in a fresh envelope without a return address or note inside from Bazzy saying why the letter was sent to the paper. It also bore no postage marks other than the Pitney Bowes stamp from Kenwal Steele.
“I think that this shows David Bazzy has an utter lack of respect for the public trust and the rest of Dearborn,” Tafelski said last week. “Furthermore, David Bazzy has given residents the right to question his personal ethics.
“This was a personal attack. The election law (says) how things should be worded and paid for. Maybe he doesn’t understand the business of being an elected official. What he did was a total disregard for the election process.
“The dirty politics need to stop. Dearborn residents need to take a strong stance on this.”
Bazzy maintains that he was not the originator of the letters, signed “We Care About Dearborn.”
“Tom’s got a lot of enemies,” Bazzy said. “I’m not one of them. In business, I don’t even consider my competitors my enemies. Whoever had this disdain for Tom has significant disdain for Tom. My belief is you ascend the position if you’re guilty.”
Bazzy said he is approaching his new position in politics as if it were a professional business venture, not fueled by personal smear campaigns. He said last week that he still plans to take over the City Council seat George Darany is vacating as Darany heads to the Michigan House of Representatives next month.
“At this point, because of a lot of things at work, I’m weighing it out effectively,” Bazzy said of mixing his time between the council and Kenwal. “At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the sort of person who misses time. I have a primary responsibility to the shareholders and employees of this company.
“I want to be fair to the community. You’re one person of seven, and I want to bring my background to the city. Hopefully I can work with the City Council and community and get the city over some difficult times.”
Another key ingredient to the mix is family. Bazzy and Tafelski both are family men with school-age children, which additionally weighs on the time put toward a day job and municipal politics.
Tafelski said that common family bond is part of the reason why he finds the whole scenario so unbelievable.
“I have lost all respect for him,” Tafelski said. “He can be a community philanthropist all he wants, but at the end of the day, the man still has to look at himself in the mirror and realize what he did to my family.
“If David Bazzy had any respect for himself or the political office, he wouldn’t even take the (oath or council position).”
(Contact Chris Jackett at [email protected])