By CYNTHIA KMETT
It’s been a battle for months now, but with now-former City Manager Brian Kischnick’s termination, the public pleas to release the findings from a summer 2016 report on some irregularities in his spending habits with city money have been answered.
The inquiry started when the manager had an at-fault accident in a city car when he should have been driving his own vehicle (since the city was giving him ample money to do so). When he turned in the deductible for the other damaged car, the finance department had questions because there was no police report. That was because the two drivers had just exchanged information. The finance department inquired about what to do. That brought some credit card charges for phone accessories, headphones, and the infamous Kate Spade phone case to light, and the city called on its personnel legal advisor Craig Lange to look into the case.
The final report was one of carried attorney-client privilege and after a lengthy debate, council chose not to release the full report.
But now, when the allegations of abusing a woman are part of the current charges against Kischnick, some people started to speculate that this might be part of the investigation from two years ago and that would have been a good time to fire the manager.
Councilman David Hamilton presented a resolution last month for the city waiving attorney-client privilege and for the release of the 2016 report. Council postponed the decision to last week’s meeting so they could talk to their lawyers, who again said it really wasn’t a good idea to release such documents. The original vote to not release the report had been 4-3 against the release. This time it was 4-3 to release the document. The deciding vote to change direction belonged to Councilman Ethan Baker.
Baker had tried for a compromise to release everything in the document except the opinions of Attorney Lange on speculation as to why this might have happened, and it looked like it might pass. But Hamilton said if the redacted document (think of it as a document with crossed out names and positions of those we might think of as whistleblowers) didn’t come back to his liking he would bring it up for consideration again. That made Baker put his hands in the air, withdraw his amendment and go with Hamilton’s resolution. He was taking the advice of Councilwoman Edna Abrahim, who said they should just “rip the bandage off” and put this matter behind them.
The council will get to see the redacted vision first and can vote on April 23 for the release of not just the report, but a Detroit News story and the action plan the city had given Kischnick after the initial inquiry.
Mayor Dane Slater noted that those who expected lots of salacious findings in the report were going to be disappointed.
Actually, the biggest crowd at last Monday’s council meeting was there to protest a new operator for the tennis facilities at the Civic Center. The Troy Racquet Club has been operated for the past 40 years by Troy attorney Don Pierce.
The city thought it might be time to go out for bids and see who else might want the job. Pierce was not the winning bidder and All Court Tennis LLC of Bloomfield Hills was up for a 10-year contract, with two 5-year renewals, at last Monday’s meeting.
Members of the Troy Racquet Club were not pleased. Curtis Smith, the head pro for 25 years, had nothing good to say about the potential operator, calling him divisive and explosive.
Others said the city needed to do much more due diligence and find out how many lawsuits were already pending against this potential operator, who had worked at Troy for a period.
Another tennis club member of 20 years recalled the potential operator as having created an atmosphere that was competitive and stressful.
One vendor of the proposed new company said he was still owed $15,000 for his services.
The city selection team for selecting a vendor has visited the All Court Tennis other facilities and didn’t find any problems. Council postponed this new bid and said it was time to take a closer look.