Dearborn Heights will have a state elections monitor for next month’s election after claims of voter suppression and discrimination against Arab-Americans who requested absentee ballots, while the city clerk is alerting authorities to possible voter fraud involving the absentee ballots.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko said Wednesday he requested that the secretary of state monitor Tuesday’s election.
“It should give comfort to the voters that we have some independent review,” he said.
A state staffer is expected in Dearborn Heights “to assist the City Clerk’s Office in case any questions or issues arise to ensure an orderly election,” spokesman Fred Woodhams said. “The staff person also may travel to other area communities if they are needed there.”
Meanwhile, City Clerk Walter Prusiewicz, who has faced accusations of preventing Arab-American voters from submitting absentee ballots, reported to the state attorney general and the Wayne County prosecutor this week what he described as “a potential case of voter fraud and campaign irregularities.”
For years I’ve asked people to come to council meetings and study session for Dearborn Heights. Well tonight 7-29-2014 my wish came true. The council chamber was packed with residents of Dearborn Heights demanding that the Council to accept the Clerks resignation. The council is poised to decide to accept instead the Clerks rescind of that resignation. Yes that’s right folks the council all, but said after getting an opinion from the attorney for the City they will keep him. Sorry to say, but all the legal opinions in the world even if they’re from the Supreme Court of the United States aren’t going to do a bit of good.
To all you good folks in the council chamber on 7-29-2014 this is Dearborn Heights and what you don’t understand about Dearborn Heights is they, they being the administration and the council do as they like. Resignation is like death you can’t come back from it’ oh wait a minute you can like Lazarus. No Mr. Miotke it’s not like death not when you are in Dearborn Heights.
According to the State an elected official can rescind their resignation as long as it’s done before the date stated in their resignation. In this case that date is 8-28-2014. No he’s not leaving and yes the council is going to get their way or should I say certain members of the council. Be sure that nothing is ever going to change in this City not when you have Councilwoman Horvath who took a lot of heat at the 7-29-2014 study session most of all for being in the clerk’s office. She was right back there today. Yep not one word of what the residents of Dearborn Heights had to say last at the study session about her being in that office had one ounce of effect on her.
Paletko says that hundreds of applications were held even though only a few of them appeared to be improperly filled out.
Folks if any of you had been going to the council meetings over these many years would have known what was up.. Unfortunately, very few are ever there. A handful of people who go to council meetings the same people maybe 5 or 6 I know because I use to be one of them. Even fewer go to study sessions I know because sometimes I was the only one there. While what was being discussed at the 7-29-2014 study session was and is of the utmost importance so is every other council meeting and study session in this City. Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars of your tax money is spent and on what? Do you know how much this Mayor and some on the council have gotten away with? When councilwoman Horvath stated “the city is broken” that is was an understatement. The city is a cesspool and the council for years has stood by and watched it get worse and worse doing nothing to clean it up.
A woman standing outside before the meeting started shouted what do we want? “We want a new council, a new Mayor, and a new Clerk.” Now only a few people glanced in our direction, but she is on the right track and that is the truth. She knows who she is because she comes here to the blog. She said those things because she knows this is so much bigger than just the clerk and this issue. She knows because she’s one of the 5 or 6 that go to the council meetings, but no one is paying attention.
I say this to you’ prove everyone on that council wrong the first thing you can do is GET UP, GET OUT, AND VOTE. Get every member of your family to the damn poll on August 5 2014 get your neighbors, your aunts, uncles, friends and vote. This is the only way that they are going to take your serious numbers don’t lie and if you want them to see that you indeed are worried about your right to vote. Then you better sure the hell exercise that right at the polls come election day. The Clerk isn’t leaving he is going to be in the Clerks office election day that doesn’t say he has to be there without oversight. If you want call the secretary of state and voice your concern let them know you want a third-party at the Clerks office on election day to oversee the election.
Below is a copy of the list of reasons the Clerk gave for resigning.
Here’s what the charter says about Resignations and the handling of them…
Resignation of elective officers shall be made in writing, filed with the Clerk and shall be acted upon by the Council at its next regular meeting, following receipt thereof by the Clerk. Resignations of appointive department heads, Boards and Commissions shall be made in writing to the appointing officer and shall be acted upon immediately.
The Council acted upon the Clerks resignation clear enough the motioned and voted RECEIVE NOTE AND FILE. Any questions? sure shouldn’t it’s clear as day, but this is Dearborn Heights the city that never ever follows the charter. Dearborn Heights the City that bends and breaks its own rules when it suites them.. Tonight let the back walking begin. This whole council is out-of-order for even having a study session about this matter. He submitted his resignation the council accepted it done. It’s says nothing of rescinding your resignation; it says nothing of study sessions. So just what is the Council up to?
Update: we’ve now obtained the city clerk’s (now rescinded) resignation letter from July 22, and we’ve updated the story to include the information it provides.
Something “fishy” is going on at the Dearborn Heights city clerk’s office.
Accusations are coming in against the Dearborn Heights clerk’s office.
Credit Lars Plougmann / Creative Commons
That’s how the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee puts it.
They say they’re getting dozens of complaints from Arab Americans who tried to get absentee ballots in Dearborn Heights – and ran into trouble at the city clerk’s office.
Fatina Abdrabboh is the legal director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Michigan.
She says the complaints range from being told that the clerk’s office didn’t have to provide them a ballot, or that the ballots would be sent out at the clerk’s discretion…while others say their ballots just didn’t arrive in the mail.
“And with the August 5th primaries coming up, one tip led to the next, and it became apparent to Arab American citizens that they had not received their ballots in the mail,” says Abdrabboh.
The committee has asked the state’s Attorney General or another third party, like the FBI, to investigate.
City clerk resigned, citing office rife with “drama and conflict”
The Dearborn Heights clerk’s office did not return our request for comment.
But you can glean something about the way his office functions (or rather, fails to function) from his July 22 letter of resignation.
Walter J. Prusiewicz has reportedly decided to stay on, however, and fulfill his term.
In his letter, however, he said:
“…Very recent events have finally convinced me that I will never be accepted as the Clerk and this job will never get any better. I had so many plans and hopes for the office and the city, but I now know that these hopes are all in vain.”
He goes on to cite a list of four reasons, including an work environment of “drama and conflict,” in which “several of the clerical staff at city hall do not speak to me and bad mouth me at every opportunity.”
Prusiewicz says that atmosphere is what forced one qualified employee to quit and another candidate to turn the job down.
He says he is one of two full time employees in the office.
Could the chaos of the clerk’s office be to blame?
As to the allegations of discrimination, the letter contains the following:
“Last week two batches of several hundred absentee ballot applications were dropped off at my office while I was not in the front office to receive them. None of them were signed as required by law by the person dropping them off and the office staff did not get the person’s name who brought them in.
“As also required by law, I reported this to the state and asked for their guidance. I was told to hold off issuing the ballots until a determination could be made. I received a call back and was informed to issue them since we did accept them unsigned, but to not accept any more unsigned in the future and to ask anyone dropping off bulk applications for their identification….”
“With that said, a gentleman came in to the city hall yesterday and loudly proclaimed that he heard I was suppressing the Arab vote…When I arrived, it was an ugly scene with him accusing me of wanting the Polish candidate to win and not issuing ballots to Arab Americans…Councilman Berry was kind enough to come to my defense and tried to mitigate this issue and explain what had really happened…”
We’ll check in with the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee this week to see if more of the people who submitted absentee ballot applications have received theirs.
Dearborn Heights City Clerk Walter J. Prusiewicz resigned suddenly from his position just before a council meeting July 22 but has since decided to rescind his resignation and fulfill his term. Full Article Here
What the Hell happened to the Charter and everyone at the Council table that night saying it’s done it’s over… What happened to the Mayor saying it’s done? What about this Mr. Mayor,
Paletko said his call for an independent party to take over the elections in Dearborn Heights is an attempt to keep Prusiewicz away from the process until his resignation is effective.
To my understanding the Attorney for the City looked into this and said it’s done. Didn’t Miotke compare resigning to death. You can’t go back! When a resident asked what does the charter call for? He was told that he submitted his resignation with a date and it’s done he’s gone. Something like that anyway got said at the council meeting… Now we are just going to ignore the charter again and oh hum sorry guys my bad I want to stay. I’m sorry, but what in the Hell is going on in this City? You can’t just resign and say all of what you’ve said write all of what you wrote tell the residents I’ve had enough. Then decide that well that didn’t work out the way I thought it would. Meet all day with the Mayor and one Council member and take it all back. No hell with that.
We have a Mayor that has clearly stated that the Charter for once I thought anyway was going to be followed only to find out not so fast we’ve not followed it before and nobody said anything let’s do it again. The Mayor in no uncertain terms stated he doesn’t want this man to run the election there can’t be a bigger indictment then that. How you going to walk all of this back now Mr. Mayor? How about you Council members? I know how about we do this,
TAKE THE CHARTER PILE ALL YOUR COPY’S IN THE PARKING LOT AT CITY HALL AND BURN THE DAMN THINGS.
They sure as hell aren’t doing anyone any good I’ve never seen such a Mickey Mouse operation. Every one of you on the Council and you Mr. Mayor should be ashamed of yourselves. You, you Mr. (former) Clerk how dare you treat the residents, the Charter, this City and the position that so many in-trusted to you so callously? Maybe you’ve taken a page from the Council and Mayors playbook; you know the one how to keep showing the residents how irrelevant they are.
Just like that folks he rescinds his resignation and he’s back as the City Clerk. He who just said 48 hours ago said he didn’t want the job. I guess the rules only apply to those of us paying the bills in this City. The rest those elected and those that have a chair at the Mayors round table don’t have to follow any laws/rules.
In a phone interview with The Arab American News, Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko distanced himself from Prusiewicz, calling for the secretary of state or the Wayne County clerk to oversee the elections in the city. He also confirmed that some ballots were denied.
“The city clerk is elected separately,” Paletko said. “I had a chat with him. I do not fully understand why the absentee ballots were denied. The reasons he provided were more technical than practical.”
The mayor said he takes the allegations seriously. He added that challenging absentee ballot requests is concerning because it runs the risk of denying citizens’ right to vote.
“Voting is the primary right established in a democracy. There is a significant reasonable doubt being placed over the vote,” he said. “To assist the process, we have to remove that doubt by having a new party run the elections.”
He added that he fears the story will bring negative national attention to the area, which is already struggling with image and looking like a “third world country” because of the Detroit water crisis. Hence, he said, he wants the election to not be handled by the clerk’s office. Read the Rest Here
The Clerk at the Tuesday July 22 council meeting did submit a list of reasons for resigning I’ve been told that there are several reasons and absentee voter applications are just one of them…He all so has a problem as he stated with the City as a whole and he did say that last night on WXYZ Detroit you can see it here.
The Clerk who was just Re-elected in November has decided for several reasons to leave. He’s stated in his letter to the council according to people who’ve read it I haven’t yet. that his office is understaffed. I’d like to point out the obvious this is of his own doing. Least we all forget this is the same man who not so many months ago City Council Censured for sexual harassment. That was swept under the rug as fast as Council and the administration could do it… This is the same man who said he could work under the budgetary constraints that the City now finds it’s self in… Only to have him put in for and our great council gave him back the deputy clerk position in this years budget. He’s whined for months about being understaffed as if he’s the only damn department in the City understaffed.
He talks of a New hire that only worked for 4 days and left. Writing a letter stating that she could not work in such a toxic environment as City Hall… If she only worked for 4 days when did she have any time to socialize with anyone in City Hall? Sorry, but wasn’t this person learning a new job? Did she learn that job in 4 Days? Now a story comes out voters being denied the right to vote at the Clerks office. The Clerk in his interview is talking about the applications sent in to the Clerks office and that these absentee ballot applications did not get filled out correctly. This maybe true, but what was asked by the reporter was the fact that more than one person of Arab decent went to the Clerks office asked to vote absentee at City Hall. This under the law is well within the rights of any resident of Dearborn Heights to do. They fill out the application while standing there, and this person did that. When they asked for the ballot to vote they were told not once, twice, but three times that the ballot would be mailed to them. Why?
Below is the press release sent to every City Council members, the Mayor and to news media.
Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh, the Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)-Michigan Office is asking the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General to look into allegations of voter discrimination in the City of Dearborn Heights. The ADC-Michigan received credible complaints from numerous Arab-Americans alleging that the city of Dearborn Heights deliberately prevented many of them from submitting absentee ballots for the upcoming elections while they are vacationing in the Middle East. In some cases Dearborn Heights residents were told they would be “mailed” absentee ballot applications despite the fact that the residents informed city officials that “mailed” applications would be useless while they were overseas. The ADC-Michigan reached out to Dearborn Heights officials seeking an explanation of why many Arab-Americans were deprived of their right to vote via absentee ballots and why many other applications had not been processed.
Furthermore, the ADC-Michigan demands a thorough investigation into reports of misconduct, intimidation, and bias towards voters by the City of Dearborn Heights. The ADC-Michigan is also concerned about the circumstances surrounding the announcement of the Dearborn city clerk’s resignation amidst the ongoing voter suppression allegations. Also, it is especially troubling that Council Woman Marge Horvath sent a dismissive response basically attempting to guarantee that no violations could have taken place prior to any authority reviewing the evidence.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 guarantees all ethnic and racial minorities the right to vote without obstacles. Specifically, Section 2 of the VRA prohibits minority vote dilution or any tactics, circumstances, or rules that impede or weaken the ability of minorities to vote and gain fair representation. Section 5 of the VRA enables Arab-Americans and other minorities to challenge discriminatory voting practices. ADC-Michigan Director Attorney Abdrabboh said, “The fact that voter intimidation and voter bias exists 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed is shocking” , she continued, “Voting is a cornerstone of democracy and Arab-Americans will not stand by and allow this fundamental right to be violated by any city government anywhere.” If the concerns of the ADC-Michigan are not addressed appropriately, the ADC-Michigan will pursue all necessary legal action to uphold Section 5 of the VRA.
Credible allegations of tactics by government officials to suppress voter rights must be taken seriously. There are credible professional citizens who complained that on different occasions government officials in Dearborn Heights intentionally violated their right to vote.
Here’s the reply to the ADC from Councilwoman Horvath.
Ms. Abdrabbah,I am sure that your organization will find no wrong doing in our Clerk’s Office. I have been around here long enough to know that our Clerk’s Office, no matter who is in charge, has been the example of excellence in voter application, voter registration and voting. I, as a citizen and an elected official stand behind the Clerk’s office as an efficiently run office until someone proves otherwise. Whatever else you may find fault with in that office integrity in that office should not be one of them. I find it disheartening that when things don’t go as we like drastic measures sometime are taken.Sincerely,Councilwoman Marge Horvath
I’m glad Councilwoman Horvath is sure that wrong doing won’t be found. I’m happy that she has such strong feelings towards the Clerk. However Councilwoman Horvath knows better than anyone in City Hall just what people are capable of doing in this City. Her and I have discussed it many, many times over the past 4 or 5 years. She is no stranger to what goes on, and just for the record she was not there when this person came into vote absentee at the Clerks office. To make a statement “when things don’t go as we like drastic measures sometime are taken. ” Things didn’t go who’s way? a voter who is asking to vote absentee at City Hall within their rights to do so under the law. 3 times this person was told we will send it to you. This isn’t a matter of something not going someones way, this is someones rights being violated. ‘Disheartening’ indeed Councilwoman Horvath that you don’t see that.