Tafelski says he’ll file ethics complaint against Walling

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — One day after stopping Councilwoman Nancy Hubbard from reading a prepared statement regarding personal election views during the city council meeting Oct. 8, Council President Thomas Tafelski announced that he was filing a grievance against the city’s corporation counsel to investigate her role in the incident.

After the council finished going through the items on the agenda, Tafelski opened the floor to individual council members for any concerns they wished to address.

Hubbard began by saying that she had “something to read” and announced that a group called “Let’s Reclaim Dearborn” had distributed an email that said she was endorsing certain city council candidates that she was not endorsing in the November election.

“This group did not tell me about its intentions and used my good name to try and mislead Dearborn voters,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard had began to discuss who had contacted her for endorsement when Talefski cut her off then by stating that a city council meeting was not the place to discuss election endorsements and that it was against the rules established by the city’s Ethics Commission.

“I’m sorry, but this is political in nature and we are at a governmental function,” Tafelski said.

The issue was deferred to City Attorney Debra Walling, who said she had been made aware of the email Hubbard received and decided to look up the rules in the city charter regarding election comments made by someone who is not on the ballot.

Hubbard, who has been on the city council since 1990, is not seeking re-election and will leave when her term ends in December.

“I don’t know what she (Hubbard) is about to say, but I thought she was just going to mention the fact that whatever is going on on the Internet with respect to this particular piece is false,” Walling said. “I don’t know what else she is going to say.”

Walling admitted that the discussion was “unusual” for a council meeting.

“It’s highly unusual,” Tafelski answered. “We have to be careful. We have to have some integrity up here as a governing body.”

Hubbard did not return to reading the statement during the meeting, but did express her feelings regarding the upcoming election.

“This will be the first time in over 60 years that a Hubbard’s name will not be on the ballot,” Hubbard said. “How will I feel about it? I don’t know yet. I’ll miss it, but will I be sorry that I didn’t run? Only time will tell.”

She also thanked the residents of the city for their support during her tenure on the council.

“I want to thank the voters of Dearborn for voting for me over and over and over again,” Hubbard said. “I really enjoy my job.”

The day following the meeting, Tafelski said that he planned to file an ethics grievance against Walling because he believed her to be the author of the statement read by Hubbard.

Walling would be prohibited from authoring a statement like the one possessed by Hubbard by the city charter, which states that “while on duty, no political activity shall occur during working hours by public officers or employees.”

Tafelski said that he suspected Walling because he observed her taking a folder to Hubbard’s seat before the meeting started.

Tafelski added that he plans to contact the state Attorney General’s Office about investigating the incident because the Ethics Commission, who would normally investigate the case, is under the domain of the Law Department. Walling is the head of the Law Department.

Walling said the folder she placed on Hubbard’s desk was handed to her from Police Chief Ronald Haddad as she was walking into the council chambers. She added that she did not have a role in the contents of the folder.

“I did not write that for Councilwoman Hubbard and she did not ask me to write anything for her,” Walling said. “I fully admit to being handed that folder as I was walking into the council chambers to put it on Nancy Hubbard’s desk, but I did not write anything.”

Walling added that she had been in contact with Hubbard that morning about the email but was not in the office that day due to attending a funeral.

“I got a copy of (the “Let’s Reclaim Dearborn” message) in my private email and I was concerned that she may have been a victim of some sort of identity theft,” Walling said. “I called her and she was not even aware of it. I wanted to make sure that somebody wasn’t misappropriating her image.”

Walling said she informed Tafelski that she did not write the statement and that she was not in the office on Oct. 8. She added that her integrity was very important to her, as was having the confidence of the entire city council.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)