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Apr 03

Screwing Up The Legislative Process

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

Here’s another one that just floated under the radar.It appears that City Council, the Mayor, and the City Manager have violated Ypsilanti’s City Charter.

In Section 2-66 of the Code of Ordinances, it currently states, “All nonunion, nondepartment head personnel shall reside within a 25-mile radius of city hall. Within 90 days after employment such new employee shall reside with a 25-mile radius of city hall, or if the position involves a probationary period, then within 90 days after successful completion of the established probationary period.”

Section 4.01 of the City Charter has this to say regarding the residency requirements of the City Manager:

The Manager need not be a resident of the City or State at the time of appointment, but shall become a resident of the City within ninety (90) days after appointment unless this time-limit is specifically extended by monthly Council action, the total of these extensions not to exceed ninety (90) days, and shall so remain a resident of the City throughout the term of office.”

Earlier this year, the City hired Bill Bohlen to replace long-time Director of Public Works Harry Hutchinson who retired last year. Mr. Bohlen has been a department head in several cities in Michigan including Oak Park where he worked with Ypsilanti Assistant City Manager Bob Bruner when Mr. Bruner was the Assistant City Manager of Oak Park.

As everyone knows, there is a specific legislative process required to change the Code of Ordinances for the City of Ypsilanti. Back on February 7th of this year, City Council unanimously passed a resolution that would remove the 25 mile residency requirement because they felt it would “provide the best possible climate to recruit and retain qualified and capable employees.” Shortly after this resolution was passed, Mr. Bohlen was hired to head the DPW.

The problem with this is that you can’t amend an ordinance in the Code of Ordinances with a resolution. Ordinances may only be amended with another ordinance. The City committed a procedural error.

If that’s not bad enough, there is new language in the proposed ordinance that revises the residency requirement for the City Manager. The new language reads:

The city manager shall become a resident within a 25-mile radius of Ypsilanti City Hall of the city within 90 days of appointment.”

This revision effectively changes the City Charter. The City Charter can only be changed by a vote of the people. Council is basically usurping the power of the people.

At tonight’s City Council meeting, we will see the first reading of an ordinance to properly change the Charter and make the removal of the residency requirement legal.

It will be interesting to see how this mistake is handled and City Council deals with this blunder. Stay tuned.

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