Letter: Diversity Seems to Have Selective Application in Royal Oak

The following was written by Rick Karlowski in response to Royal Oak Committee Appointees 'A Little Bit Younger, More Gender Balanced'.

I find it incredible that Appointments Committee members Mike Fournier and Jeremy Mahrle, who championed the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to make sure folks are not discriminated against because of, among other things, age and sex, used, by their own statements, those very criteria to deny my reappointment to the Zoning Board of Appeals and change the long standing practice of appointing interested alternate members to full appointments as vacancies occur. And that Mayor Jim Ellison and Commissioner Kyle DuBuc, also strong advocates of the HRO, concurred with their recommendation. 

Nobody questioned my attendance, conflicts of interest, or qualifications as a reason for denial. As for the "diversity" argument, consider the following: There were three full positions up for appointment including an open position vacated by George Gomez; the position held by Leslie Anderson, who was term limited; and the position held by Kevin Kalczynski, who was reappointed.  

Of the two open full positions, one was filled by the second alternate, Anthony Offak, and one was filled by a completely new appointee, Timothy Makar. The result is there is one less women on the board as a regular member than before.  

Had the previous practice of appointing alternates to full positions been continued, the board mix in terms of woman would have been the same. If diversity was such a priority, one would have thought it would have been more of an issue when the mayor made his appointment recommendations for open seats on the Planning Committee, which arose when Sharlan Douglas and Jeremy Mahrle were elected to the City Commission and again when two members of the committees' terms were up. 

In the first case, two men where appointed the open seats, decreasing the number of women on the board by one. In the second case, the two members where re-appointed. 

Clearly the "diversity" issue seems to have selective application.
Geof Vasquez February 06, 2014 at 08:48 AM
The city's own guidelines for committee reappointment are: - Attendance at meetings - Length of service. - Special expertise required by the board or commission, which can either come from outside experience in the field (i.e., planning) or from experience actually serving on the board or commission (i.e., zoning). - Recommendations from other members of the board or commission and/or City Commissioners - The opportunity for allowing new people to serve on a board or commission No where does it state state maintaining diversity as a criteria. And it seems to me that any use of age, race and gender in the committee selection process would be in direct odds with the recently enacted Human Rights Ordinance. I think its about time for City Attorney Gillam to wake up and protect the citizens of Royal Oak from this discriminatory activity.
Debbie Campbell February 06, 2014 at 10:12 AM
The Royal Oak Human Rights Ordinance defines ‘discriminate’ as “ to make a decision, offer to make a decision, or refrain from making a decision, based in whole or in part on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin,*sex, age*, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status of another person, that person’s relatives, or that person’s associates”. Federal and State Law protects individuals from age discrimination and locally the Michigan Department of Civil Rights investigates allegations of age discrimination—The number for the MDCR Detroit office is: (313) 456-3700. Link to instructions on how to file a complaint: https://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/0,1607,7-138-42240_43561-153171--,00.html
Joey K. February 06, 2014 at 10:41 AM
Congrats on your reappointment, Mr. Vasquez!
jet February 06, 2014 at 10:50 AM
Karlowski was one of the better ZBA members. Most accurate, thought out and not bumbling like a few of the others on the board... ZBA isnt a board you should be able to just jump right on, needs experience with the royal oak rules and current landscape of some of its more complicated zoning scenarios. If I was him, I would file a complaint enacting that stupid human right ordinance, that all the LIBs wanted, take that in your face POW. Hypocrites. Atleast it wont tie up too many resources, since its all documented .
Ray February 06, 2014 at 12:09 PM
What about the ethics ordinance? I have been reading that a commissioner's brother was appointed over Karlowski?
Debbie Campbell February 06, 2014 at 12:14 PM
Royal Oak’s ETHICS ordinance § 66-5. Standards of conduct. A. Conflicts of interest. (b) A member of the public official's immediate family; (c) A relative of the public official 2) A public official who is aware or reasonably should be aware that he or she has a conflict of interest shall disclose the conflict on the public record, abstain from voting on the matter, and refrain from making statements which may influence the vote on the matter.
The Duke of Royal Oak February 06, 2014 at 02:16 PM
Who's Brother was appointed? Perhaps Mr. Karlowski will be the first to put the HRO into action and file a complaint.
Joey K. February 06, 2014 at 02:29 PM
No one's brother was appointed. People should stop acting like children and spreading rumors.
Ray February 06, 2014 at 03:01 PM
Oh your so right, Joey. It was brother-in-law. What a terrible mistake! It's still nepotism.
Joey K. February 06, 2014 at 03:12 PM
No one's brother-in-law was appointed, either. Stop spreading lies to advance your own agenda.
Ray February 06, 2014 at 04:06 PM
If ethics bothers you, Joey, that's too damn bad. A relative of a commissioner was appointed over Karlowski the alternate.
Joey K. February 06, 2014 at 04:23 PM
First it was a brother. Then it was a brother-in-law. Now it's a "relative." Sounds like someone is grasping at straws.
Debbie Campbell February 06, 2014 at 08:31 PM
You seem to know it all Joey K—So why don’t you clue us all in --Is it coincidence that a recent appointee, who was given a full position on the ZBA, has the same last name as the maiden name of the spouse of a City Commissioner? ---Is this appointee not a relative of a City Commissioner? *The definition of “Relative” in RO Ethics Ordinance is: --A person who is related to the public official as spouse or as any of the following, whether by marriage, blood, or adoption: parent, child, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, grandchild, father in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half-brother, half-sister, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law. *A. Conflicts of interest. (c) A relative of the public official –
Bel Mo February 06, 2014 at 10:44 PM
"When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise". Winston Churchill Written long ago by a very wise world leader these words so truly represent the heart beat of our City Hall now days.
Joey K. February 07, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Sorry, Debbie, but this is America. If you are going to make a crazy allegation, it is incumbent upon you to provide supporting evidence. And, it seems, you are unable to do so.
Ray February 07, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Tim Makar was appointed to the ZBA. Rick Karlowski was the first alternate and was not.
Bel Mo February 07, 2014 at 02:31 PM
Joey knows everything? Good then, why not run for mayor? Maybe even get to meet another mayoral candidate- Carlos Danger?
The_Groove February 07, 2014 at 02:53 PM
Sorry to see Rick being discriminated against... Hopefully Royal Oak will also discriminate equally against used Queens....


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