Deputy director Kim Constan’s application denied
By SUE SUCHYTA
HEIGHTS – City officials learned April 16 that Mayor Daniel Paletko appointed newcomer Brian Haddad as Parks and Recreation Director, rejecting Deputy Director Kim Constan, a 32-year veteran, who sought the appointment.
In an article last week in the Times-Herald, Constan announced to city council members during the public comment time at the April 16 budget hearing that she had a new boss. Constan claimed the move was a political retaliation, and noted that Haddad, a newcomer to the city, has a bachelor’s degree in applied sports studies with a minor in recreation, in contrast to her years of experience in the Dearborn Heights Parks and Recreation Department and a master’s degree in recreation.
While the mayor has the authority to appoint department heads, the city council votes to approve salaries. Haddad started work April 15, before council members were officially notified by email of the appointment. Paletko said April 16 that he did not have access to email because his secretary was out of the office, and he said he thought a notification had been sent to council members.
The city council meeting scheduled for April 23 was officially cancelled for lack of a quorum. Future budget hearings are scheduled for April 30 and May 7. The next regular council meeting is May 14.
Follow a luncheon and Senior of the Year recognition event April 23 at the Stitt American Legion Post, Constan spoke of her anger and frustration at what she is categorizing as a politically motivated move against her.
“I am very disappointed and hurt that I was not promoted into the director position after working hard for 32 years and developing one of the best senior programs in the state,” Constan said at the event.
When Paletko was asked April 23 why he chose Haddad, he said he thinks Haddad is a good complement to the staff.
“Some of his experience in recreation complements the fine job Kim does with the seniors,” Paletko said. “The are going to complement themselves very well.”
Paletko said on April 23 that he had hoped to make a formal announcement when Haddad started working, which he said was prevented because “the computers were down in city hall for two days.”
When asked if Constan will have autonomy over the senior programs she runs, Paletko shook his head no.
“It is important that they all work together, and I think Brian’s got the kind of personality and the leadership that the two will complement one another very well,” Paletko said.
When asked directly why he did not promote Kim Constan to the directorship, Paletko said he did not want to comment on his decision.
“I have too much respect for people, and I am not going to say what it was,” Paletko said.
When asked if he felt Constan had a valid case for age and gender discrimination, Paletko said he was not going to speculate on what might happen.
“If something happens, I will deal with it,” Paletko said.
When interviewed at the April 23 event, Haddad said he worked for the Dearborn Recreation Department and for Hype Athletics, and said he has worked in recreation “since I was a kid.
“When I was 16, I started out at the old Dearborn YMCA, where the mosque is now, on Ford Road,” he said. “I started out as a basketball referee, and I evolved into coaching baseball and all the sports.”
He graduated from Edsel Ford High School, and earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree with a major in sports studies and a minor in recreation at Central Michigan University.
Haddad said he was born and raised in Dearborn, but played Dearborn Heights District 7 baseball and basketball as a youth.
He said he is still getting up to speed with everything the department has, but he said one of the things he enjoys the most is making people happy.
“What I enjoy the most is putting smiles on people’s faces, whether it’s kids to adults, just because they are enjoying what is happening in the department,” Haddad said. “I want to try to bring a couple new things, and the only way we are going to know if it works is if we try them. Some things are going to work, some things aren’t.”
Haddad said he would like to try some new ideas for Halloween programing, like a Halloween walk, where local businesses hand out candy at different points along the walk, and they can promote their business in what he characterized as a safe environment.
He said he plans to continue to support the strong senior programs.
“I want to keep that going strong, but with other programs, I can’t tell you what I want to keep going yet, because the first six months is more of an evaluation for me,” Haddad said. “I am not going to change a thing, at least not for the first six months, nine months, it could be a year.”
He said he wants to see how programs work before he evaluates them.
When asked how he plans to react to the circumstances with Constan, his deputy, who hoped to become the director, Haddad responded matter-of-factly.
“Just like everybody else, I applied for the job, I just went through the process,” Haddad said. “I think it is one day at a time. Kim and I just have to work together. We have a professional relationship, and we are going to keep it that way, as much as we possibly can.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)