More Clerk News

Update: we’ve now obtained the city clerk’s (now rescinded) resignation letter from July 22, and we’ve updated the story to include the information it provides.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.

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4 thoughts on “More Clerk News”

  1. Really? An elected official decides to resign because some clerk in the building doesn’t like him? When you run for office, there are probably a whole lot of people who don’t like you, namely the ones who voted for someone else. Of course, there are other reasons he may have resigned, but to cite that someone doesn’t like him as one of his reasons seems so very unprofessional and petty. Every large organization has drama and stress. Live with it!

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  2. well this will be proven on election day when the vocal minority that thinks they are the majority fail YES FAIL once more to do the one thing they are complaining about VOTE I have sat at too many election day polls and watched the same people come in and vote and believe me they are more european in heritage than middle eastern so my friends get off your keester rump cabboose dupa butt and vote or SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO YELL ABOUT something else like assimilating into our society as productive members

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  3. bitsy, I went to that meeting last night, and honestly I was appalled at the actions of some people. IF there is real evidence of the clerk denying ballots to some people based only on the fact that they are Arabic, then of course that is wrong and I hope something is done about it. I understand why people would be upset about this and they need to fight it. That being said however, some people last night were very rude and disrespectful, sorry but when you act that way, when you shout down a woman who simply asks “what happened to innocent until proven guilty”, then I have no sympathy, that is NOT the way to do it.
    I am in no way a fan of the clerk, he is rude and arrogant and he should have been gone a long time ago, I am not defending him. But all I heard last night was a bunch of hearsay, How many of those applications for ballots were filled out wrong or not signed? Were mistakes made on the part of the clerks office, it would be appear so, but I am not convinced that he denied anyone based on the fact that they were Arabic. I heard one person say that the clerk did this because he wanted a Polish person to win, well could not the same be said for the Arabic community? Maybe they started all of this because an Arabic is running. I know that sounds insane, but no more insane than accusing the clerk because he wants the Polish person to win. I have no doubt that the truth, whatever that is will come out, but here is my question, if after an investigation by an independent party finds no wrong doing on the part of the clerk, will there be an apology from those accusing him?

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  4. Oh, man, this is out of control. First of all, ANYONE (I don’t care what nationality) is subject to the same laws as we all are. If you go to the State of Michigan site and search under Absentee Ballots, here is “some” of what it states: After receiving your absentee voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on election day to complete the ballot and return it to the clerk’s office. Your ballot will not be counted unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches your signature on file. If you received assistance voting the ballot, then the signature of the person who helped you must also be on the return envelope. Only you, a family member or person residing in your household, a mail carrier, or election official is authorized to deliver your signed absentee voter ballot to your clerk’s office. Now, all that said, the Clerk’s office and ANYONE WORKING IN THIS OFFICE should be aware of the laws governing absentee ballots. IF THEY ARE NOT, then THEY SHOULD NOT BE ACCEPTING ANY BALLOTS FROM ANYONE. Someone WHO IS AWARE OF THE LAWS SHOULD BE IN THE OFFICE AT ALL TIMES to accept ballots and so these mistakes aren’t made. And you know what else? THESE MISTAKES NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE UNDER JANET’S WATCH! One more thing. If you are interested, show up for the Study Session tonight at City Hall around 7:40 p.m. where they will discuss these issues. And if you don’t show up, STOP COMPLAINING!

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