Warren City Council Considers Handling of Ethics Complaints – Macomb Daily


The Warren City Council acknowledged during its July 9 meeting that it has received several ethics complaints from residents in recent weeks.

Council members said those complaints must be taken seriously and investigated, but city ordinances do not outline a procedure for doing so. Standards of conduct are defined, but there is no set process for dealing with formal allegations of ethical violations.

The city’s current code of ethics was originally drafted in 1991 and last amended in 1999.

“Originally, the ethics ordinance had our district judges as sort of arbitrators of the ethics ordinance, and not surprisingly, the judges didn’t want to, nor was it part of their jurisdiction under state law to enforce the city’s ethics code,” City said. Counsel Attorney Jeffrey Schroder. “So for the last 25 years, there has been no dedicated ethics police in the city in terms of who makes the final decision on an ethics violation.”

Unlike Macomb County and some surrounding cities, Warren’s current ordinance does not specify to whom an ethics ordinance must be filed, nor is there a specific form or format for writing an acknowledgment.

Schroder recommended that the current regulation be reworked, but stressed that he does not recommend that newly filed ethics complaints wait for months while updates to the ethics regulations are implemented.

“I don’t think we should sweep the complaints that we currently have under the rug,” Schroder said.

Acting City Attorney Mary Michaels agreed that the ordinance needs to be reformed.

The subjects of recently filed ethics complaints include Mayor Lori Stone, Cultural Affairs Commission member Monica Papasian and Community Outreach Director Olu Jabari. One of the issues with the current ordinance, Schroder said, is that it only applies to the mayor, city council and members of boards and commissions, not someone who works in the mayor’s office like Jabari.

Councilman Jonathan Lafferty said recent complaints brought to the council have been thoroughly documented and well investigated, but that by ordinance the only action officers can take is to receive and file the complaint.

“These are very serious situations that need to be looked at,” Lafferty said. “Impartiality is probably the most important aspect of the ethics regulations to ensure a fair and balanced approach, not only to guide the person who files the complaint but also how it is handled and what you do with it once it is resolved.”

The City Council voted unanimously to assign legal counsel to draft an updated ethics ordinance.

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