Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Capello is questioning the seriousness of a recent investigation on whether or not the actions of a Royal Oak city commissioner constituted an ethics violation.
Capello told commissioners Monday night that when she requested a special meeting in August, along with Commissioner Peggy Goodwin, she expected an independent investigation concerning the actions of City Commissioner Jim Rasor and an
"No investigating took place. There was only interviewing and not even face-to-face interviews," Capello told fellow commissioners. "There was no sworn testimony required."
Attorney William Hampton, a former state legislator and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge, orchestrated telephone interviews and prepared a report for commissioners to determine whether Rasor violated the city's ethics ordinance when the commissioner filed an application for a parking station at the former Fresard property, a site the city previously relied heavily upon for parking revenues during the Labor Day weekend festival.
On Dec. 20, commissioners voted to release the attorney-client privileged legal opinion prepared by Hampton.
'Not at all what I asked for'
"To the extent that (commissioners) withheld important information, the whole truth was not asked for, nor given, nor demanded," Capello said.
Capello expressed disappointment that no corroboration from outside the table was asked for, "even in light of conflicting information," she said. And, she questioned Hampton's choice of telephone interviews, since the interviewer was unable to read body language.
“No one outside this table was interviewed to determine what happened, what may have happened, who initiated what, who did what and who played what role," she said. "(Hampton's report) was a very nice self-contained package and not at all what I asked for."
'Sin of Ommission'
Capello continued her prepared remarks by informing the public Hampton's report also had an appendix that contained many pages of supplemental interviews. That information was redacted when the report was made public in December, she said.
The edited information "told the story of who knew what when and what they did about it," Capello said, adding that at least one elected official and one city administrator were aware of Rasor's actions and sheltered it from commissioners.
"I will not participate in shielding this information from the public," she said, calling it a "sin of omission."
In the interest of full disclosure, Capello moved for the release of the version of the Hampton's legal opinion that includes the appendix.
Mayor Jim Ellison called Capello's assessment of what transpired "very prepared and detailed" and “for the most part accurate.”
"I am the person she refers to as dealing with this issue," said Ellison.
The mayor said he first heard about the incident from City Manager Don Johnson within days of Rasor submitting his application for the use of the former Fresard parking lot. The mayor noted he also talked to City Attorney Dave Gillam.
Since there is not an established policy for dealing with such issues, the mayor opted to have a "very frank" discussion with Rasor, he said.
"I told Mr. Rasor I felt what he is doing is wrong," Ellison said, adding that at the time he believed what Rasor did was not technically in violation of the city’s ethics ordinance.
On further reflection, the mayor said he could have done things differently.
"There are some fingers being pointed at me that I didn't deal with this properly," the mayor said. "For those in the community that feel I let them down, I apologize," he added.
The motion to release the version of the legal opinion from Hampton that includes the appendix was adopted unanimously and is posted on the City of Royal Oak’s website.
In addition, a motion to release the legal opinion of the viability of the ethics pledge, which , was also passed.
- Bill Hampton's October 15, 2012 legal opinion regarding Commissioner Rasor's proposed parking station operations during this year's Arts Beats & Eats Festival
- Appendix A to outside counsel Bill Hampton's October 15, 2012 legal opinion.
- October 11, 2012 memorandum regarding the proposed Ethics Pledge.