Thursday, February 27, 2020

Wayne officials address media ‘misinformation’

Misinformation regarding the consolidation of the local court and upcoming ballot issues was a concern addressed by officials in the City of Wayne during their regular meeting last week.
During the citizens' comments portion of the agenda, former council member Christopher Sanders posed questions about the closing the 29th District Court, an issue discussed at the last meeting. The council approved a resolution at that time to explore the possibility of closing and consolidating the Wayne 29th District Court with a neighboring court.
Sanders' main concern, he said, was a statement by Mayor John Rhaesa denying that any talks with neighboring communities about combining the court had taken place within 30 days of the proposed resolution.

Councilman Tony Miller repeatedly asked Rhaesa during the earlier meeting if such talks had taken place. Rhaesa eventually flatly denied that any such talks had occurred.
Sanders disputed that in his comments and said that either Rhaesa had or directed talks with Romulus officials regarding consolidating the courts or the city manager had either had or directed such talks, or the city attorney had engaged in conversations regarding the matter.
Sanders suggested that any of those actions could be described as “rogue.”
“I need to know what the truth is, and the citizens of Wayne need to know what the truth is,” Sanders said.
Councilman Phillip Wagner took the opportunity to respond to Sanders during the council comments section of the agenda and stated that the resolution adopted by the council was an “exploration of court consolidation.” He stressed that “no negotiations have started” and said that “in exploration, it may become evident” that this is not the most cost efficient thing for the city.
Wagner was also concerned about what he characterized as “misinformation” and “mistruths” on social media regarding three proposals which will appear on the March 10 ballot in the city.
He specifically addressed the issue of extending the mayoral term from 2 years to 4 years and emphasized, “no matter what, you will vote for a mayor in November whether the resolution passes or not.”
He urged people to read the proposals and become informed about the issues and noted the proposals were available on the city website, at the library and at city hall.
During the mayor's report section of the agenda, Rhaesa also disputed Sanders' inference that he had been untruthful in his denials of negotiations with other communities. He said he was not aware of any meeting with the Romulus mayor or Romulus city attorney about court consolidation at the time of that meeting.
Rhaesa reiterated Wagner's contention that the resolution authorized only an exploration of the possibility of a court consolidation.
“There were no meetings until after the resolution was passed,” he said. “We need to figure out how to save money. People should not be getting in the way of that.”
The agenda for the Romulus City Council meeting on Monday, Feb 24, included a request for a resolution “Authorizing Participation in Investigation of Potential Consolidation of the 29th District Court with the 34th District Court.”  The Romulus court now includes Belleville, Romulus and Sumpter and Van Buren townships.
The Canton Township Board of Trustees meeting set for Tuesday, Feb. 25, included an item on the consent calendar, “Resolution regarding the exploration of district court consolidation” from the supervisor. The 35th District Court in Plymouth now handles Canton, Plymouth and Northville cases.