By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Lisa Hicks-Clayton’s recent election to city treasurer raised a question about her role as Deputy Chief of Staff for State Sen. Betty Jean Alexander (D-5th District).
A legal opinion letter by the Assistant City Attorney Mark Roberts was on the City Council’s Dec. 8 meeting agenda, but was not received, noted and filed due to lack of support. Councilman Robert Constan made the motion, but did not receive support.
According to the letter, Roberts was asked to provide an opinion regarding the application of the Incompatible Public Offices Act, Act 566 of 1978.
Section 1 of the Act defines incompatible offices as, public offices held by a public official which, when the official is performing the duties of any of the public offices held by the official, results in any of the following with respect to those offices held; the subordination of one public office to another; the supervision of one public office by another; and a breach of duty of public office.
“The interests of the City of Dearborn Heights and the State of Michigan do not always coincide, learning to the end of the individual holding a city office and state employment to subordinate one position in favor of the other, in violation of the Act,” the opinion read.
Roberts’ letter said that in his opinion, “the simultaneous employment as chief of staff for a state senator is incompatible with the public office of city treasurer.”
During the meeting, Hicks-Clayton said she wanted to bring some clarity to the situation and that she was surprised when she saw the agenda item because she has “always had an open door policy.”
“One, I’m very concerned that someone didn’t just call me to discuss this because I am not in that position and nor have I ever been in that position, so quite frankly this has been drawn up by an attorney and it will cost the city — taxpayers — money when a simple phone call could’ve prevented all of this. I just wanted to say this is not even applicable.”
She said that as due diligence a request for an opinion letter from the Michigan State Attorney General was made. It was forwarded to all council members.
The Mayor’s Chief of Staff Krystina Laslo spoke at the council meeting, saying the legal opinion came as a result of four employees calling the mayor’s office asking if somebody could hold elected office and chief of staff in a state office.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])