DEARBORN HEIGHTS – In a third regular meeting of the Dearborn Heights City Council on Tuesday, Council members resolved to keep the second version of the retainer agreement with the outside law firm a majority of the Council wants to hire.
They also voted to appeal last month’s Wayne County District Court decision in favor of Mayor Paletko.
They additionally had to vote to continue with this third full City Council meeting, after amending the meeting schedule last week.
Paletko had vetoed all three of these motions and resolutions.
Council Chair Denise Malinowski-Maxwell asked the Council to “superveto” each of the mayor’s vetoes.
Paletko could be heard saying that “there is no such thing as a superveto.”
A legal source told The Arab American News that the term is erroneous and that the Council simply overturns the mayor’s vetoes.
Malinowski-Maxwell said the mayor does not have the power to veto motions under the charter, only resolutions and ordinances.
She also said Paletko submitted one veto statement covering all three actions instead of submitting separate vetoes in compliance with the City Charter.
She added that City Attorney Gary Miotke was provided a copy of both the revised retainer agreement and the general resolution and that he did not raise concerns over the retainer agreement prior to the Council vote last week.
“To now raise concerns with the retainer agreement to the mayor is a legal conflict of interest and the Council was never asked to waive that conflict,” she said.
Paletko insisted that Tuesday’s meeting was a special meeting and not a regular one.
“We as a body voted to have this regular scheduled meeting,” Councilman Ray Muscat said.
He said the mayor’s veto of the meeting was ridiculous and that he had no legal right to do so.
Councilman Dave Abdallah once again raised concerns about the new retainer agreement. He said that the law firm of Ottenwess, Taweel and Schenk PLC (OTS) had not given any indication of how much it had charged the city for legal services rendered up to this point.
The new retainer agreement does not seem to have a cap on time and scope of legal services performed by OTS, two things the court had objected to last month.
He also asked why the first lawsuit was included as billable in the new agreement when the council chair had agreed to strike it last week. He did not receive a substantial explanation.
The resolution passed 5-2, with Abdallah and Councilman Bob Constan voting no. The resolutions to proceed with the appeal of the court’s decision was also passed by the same majority.
At a later point Miotke make a public comment that he did not have a conflict of interest and that he understood the ethical rules that applied to him.
“The arguments that were put forth by the City Council’s attorney, respectfully, regarding me having a conflict of interest were rejected,” he said.
He also said he would like an opportunity to explain conflicts of interest to the City Council.