By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The City Council voted for the second time to override Mayor Daniel Paletko’s veto of the resolution the council approved to file a complaint against him after he refused to sign a contract allowing for a forensic audit.
During the May 14 meeting, the council voted 5-2 in favor of the motion with Councilmen Dave Abdallah and Robert Constan opposing.
The motion vetoed by Paletko approved the resolution to authorize the law firm of Ottenwess, Taweel & Schenk, PLC to file a complaint of writ of mandamus against Mayor Daniel Paletko.
“I am vetoing it because it is a political witch hunt that will waste city money and violate the law,” Paletko wrote in his veto letter to the council. “If the city council majority overrides my veto, I fully intend to exercise every legal option available to me. I refuse to give into this misguided and illegal, political witch hunt.”
Council President Denise Malinowski-Maxwell said the writ of mandamus forces the mayor to sign the resolution by May 15, and if not, the lawsuit would continue.
“I would certainly sign items if they were legal,” Paletko said to Maxwell. “You have been told by the corporation counsel on many occasions — you’ve cut him off, in fact, when he’s indicated the council has not followed the charter as it relates to this matter. Therefore I will not sign something that is illegal.”
Maxwell replied said she has done her research and that everything is order in regards to the lawsuit.
“I’m in favor of an audit. We need one,” Councilman Ray Muscat said. “We’ve been needing one for many, many years. No one goes this long without books being audited and we also need a charter revision in this city, one that hasn’t been — we’re well over 50 years on a document is as old as Methuselah, and that also comes into play too.”
Abdallah said the city has an audit done by Plante Moran, that he’s contacted them and they have the answers to the questions the council is asking.
“Before we get into a spending spree, bring them in again for a study session, ask whatever questions you’ve got and if it’s not satisfactory at that particular point then we’ll go to the next level,” he said. “I just think we should start with that step first before we go to this next step.”
Maxwell said that personally the lawsuit is necessary because “we have it on very good information that money has been misappropriated.
“It is our fiduciary duty to determine if this fact is true. To do this we need a financial audit. One has to question why the mayor would oppose such an audit if he has done nothing wrong. Actions speak louder than words, his action in obstructing our efforts to get to the bottom of this speak volumes.”
The city council first voted on a resolution to seek a forensic audit to provide an explanation for the almost $1.4 million missing for the city’s Public, Educational and Governmental fund during a meeting Feb. 26.
At the May 9 special council meeting, the council voted 4-2 May 9 to file a complaint against Paletko after he refused to sign a contract approved by the council to conduct a forensic audit.
Council members Bill Bazzi, Tom Wencel and Lisa Hicks-Clayton and Maxwell, voted yes while Abdallah and Constan opposed and Muscat abstained
With the vote during the special meeting, the council authorized the law firm of Ottenwess, Taweel & Schenk, PLC — which also was hired to find an audit firm — to file the complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Another resolution passed by the council during the special meeting was to waive the client-attorney privilege related to the opinion email from Miotke on May 9. The resolution passed 5-1 with Constan voting no and Muscat abstaining.
Circuit Court Judge Muriel Hughes ruled May 7 that Maxwell could not sue Paletko on behalf of the entire council and that a vote to approve the lawsuit would have to take place first.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)