By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The City Council voted 5-2 to override Mayor Daniel Paletko’s veto of its voting to initiate a financial review 5-2 during a July 14 meeting.
Councilmen Robert Constan and Dave Abdallah voted against the override.
A 17-month legal battle between Paletko and the council led to the mayor signing the retainer agreement with the Ottenwess, Taweel & Schenk, PLC law firm.
Paletko’s June 30 veto letter said that he explained that the financial review and audit was part of a “political witch hunt.”
“I also explained that the action by the majority of the city council will waste city tax dollars and is likely to become a significant drain on the city’s budget,” he wrote. “I laid out in detail many serious practical and financial problems with the action taken by the city council majority which were due to its failure to think this matter through to use common sense, and to do its due diligence.”
Council Chairwoman Denise Malinowski-Maxwell read a statement during the July 14 meeting, which said, “Mayor Paletko is close to malfeasance in office by vetoing a resolution to implement a contract that has been lawfully approved by the city and blessed by the courts. It is deeply disturbing that attorney Gary Miotke has assisted in drafting the veto message for Mayor Paletko, the contract and investigation are legal.”
On June 11, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered Paletko to sign the agreement. Council passed a resolution June 23 unanimously to initiate a financial review because it is seeing answers for questions surrounding almost $1.4 million missing for the city’s Public, Educational and Governmental fund.
Ottenwess, Taweel & Schenk were hired to facilitate the handling of the forensic audit city council was seeking. In the resolution, it stated that city council approves the assignment of the retainer agreement from Ottenwess, Taweel & Schenk to Schenk & Bruetsch PLC with all other terms and conditions remaining the same.
The council also re-affirmed its support for the sub-consultant agreement between Schenk & Bruetsch PLC and Rehmann Robson. In a June letter from Rehmann Robson to city council, Mark Kettner is listed with the principal title.
In the resolution, the council requested that Rehmann immediately begin work on this financial review, upon signing its engagement with Schenk & Bruetsch PLC.
A study session between the council, Kettner, attorney Matt Schenk and other department heads from the city was held July 28 to provide an update on the process.
As of July 27, nine people were interviewed not including Councilman Tom Wencel. There was a list of 30 topics, with 10 major topics to look into relating to the financial review.
Kettner said the council can pick the items it wants further details on or to have looked at and can set a dollar amount that should not be exceed.
During the same July 14 meeting, the council voted 4-3 to subpoena financial records from Comptroller Linda Vance, with Councilmen Ray Muscat, Abdallah and Constan voting no.
Records also were required to be provided by July 20, under the approved subpoena.
Vance emphasized that she was not refusing to provide records, but that the June financial statement is the year end statement so it was not done until all closing entries are entered.
At the July 28 meeting, a veto of the motion approving resolution of the council to subpoena records and a re-introduction for possible reconsideration of the motion to subpoena records both from the comptroller were removed because the records were provided.
Paletko said that he would provide any records requested if the city has it.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])