Resident looks at recalling assessor, councilman

By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE — A Jan. 30 incident inside the city assessor’s office caused one councilman to leave a Feb. 3 study session and a resident to begin the process of recalling the councilman and city assessor.

During the roll call for a council study session about the potential of hiring more police officers, Councilman Daniel Galeski asked to be excused from the study session and subsequent council meeting because of the incident. He did not go into much detail about the situation, but said the incident has caused “a hostile and combative environment,” during his prepared statement to the council.

“I will be taking preventive measures,” he said. “This incident prevents me from governing properly and I would like to excuse myself for two weeks or until this matter is resolved.”

Some of those details were brought to light when Richard Miller, a Wyandotte resident and volunteer cable show host, presented the facts of the incident as he knew them. Miller said City Administrator Todd Drysdale went to the office of the city assessor and found Galeski and City Assessor Thomas Woodruff going through medical records of Wyandotte veterans who applied for the state tax credit.

“When I learned about this, I notified most of the veterans that this happened with their paperwork over the weekend.” Miller said. “The main thing here is the rights of these veterans have been compromised. For something like this to happen is just appalling to me. I never thought I would have to think of something like this happening.”

Woodruff ordered Drysdale out of his office because he does not report to Drysdale, Miller stated, and is allowed to see and show the documents to any elected official.

“The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act very plainly states that is not true,” Miller said. “Only members of the (Michigan Property Tax) Board of Review are allowed to see the full records. A councilperson could only look at the submitted affidavit form if a Freedom Of Information Act (request) is filled out.”

Miller filed a formal complaint, under the city’s standards of conduct ordinance, with the city clerk, mayor and city attorney at the council meeting. He also plans to start a recall petition against Galeski and Woodruff because of their alleged actions.

“These things should have never happened,” Miller said. “We’re talking about federal laws being violated here. They do not deserve to be in office. What they did to the veterans goes beyond the pale.”

Drysdale didn’t address the accusations or the incident between him, Woodruff and Galeski during the study session or the council meeting that followed. Woodruff was absent from the study session and council meeting.

During the council meeting, Mayor Joseph Peterson confirmed there was an assault complaint made by Woodruff with the Police Department. Police Chief Daniel Grant confirmed the department was investigating the incident and said it has been alleged that Drysdale pushed Woodruff.

Grant said there was a verbal argument between the two men and police are speaking with people they believe witnessed the altercation.

Senate Bill 352, which passed Nov. 12, allows 100 percent disabled veterans to claim a property tax exemption on their primary residence. Veterans must provide an affidavit to their local treasurer’s office that states they have an honorable discharge from a branch of the U.S. armed forces and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs deemed them to be “permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service and entitled to veterans benefits at the 100 percent rate.”

If the veteran was to die, his or her spouse would continue to receive the tax exemption status until they remarry or pass away themselves. The exemption cannot be transferred to any other family member or owner of the property, and cannot be applied to additional property or rental properties.

(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at ggoodwin@bewickpublications.com.)

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