Ypsilanti Citizen News Sidetrack

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

City investigating alleged nepotism with police chief

Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker Photo by Citizen File

Ypsilanti Police Chief Amy Walker
Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

Resident concerned about Walker's department relationship

By Dan DuChene
Feb. 3, 2010    ·    1:29 a.m.

Updated: 10:33 a.m.
The city of Ypsilanti is investigating an alleged relationship between the police department's newly appointed chief and a road officer on the force.

The investigation, being conducted by the city's labor attorney, was sparked by concerns of nepotism raised by Ypsilanti resident Megan Turf, who wrote her concern in a letter sent to members of City Council in January.

In her letter, brought up by Mayor Pro Tem Trudy Swanson-Winston, D-Ward 1, during Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Turf points to an alleged relationship between Police Chief Amy Walker and Jill Kulhanek, a road officer in the department, as a violation of nepotism rules within the city.

“Allowing Officer Kulhanek to continue to be employed when layoffs are around the corner is already extending special treatment to the significant other of a department head,” Turf said in her letter.

“My issue is not their sexual orientation, but the existence of a relationship that city policy deems inappropriate – one between a department head and a subordinate,” Turf said. “I truly believe that had it been, for example, a male chief and a female secretary, the issue would have been brought up sooner.

“Do not allow the double standard,” she said. “They should be treated the same as anyone else.”

In her letter, Turf cited two different sources of documentation to highlight what she considers a violation of city nepotism rules.

The first document is the city's nonunion handbook. Walker is a nonunion city employee. However, Kulhanek is a member of the police officer's union.

Turf highlighted the following text from the handbook in her letter.

“Individuals involved in a dating relationship with a current employee may also not occupy a position that will be working directly supervising the employee with whom they are involved in a dating relationship.”

Additionally, Turf highlights a portion of text in the same document which states the individuals have 30 days to transfer to an available position inside another city department. If the 30 days goes by and a decision is not made, the handbook says management may make the transfer or terminate an employee if necessary.

The second source Turf cites is an ordinance pertaining to nepotism within city departments. The ordinance states such relationships may not exist unless approved by a unanimous vote of City Council.

After the meeting, City Manager Ed Koryzno, who is responsible for hiring the city's police chief, said he knew of the relationship before he hired Walker in December but felt it wouldn't impact her performance as chief.

No further comments on the matter were made by either Koryzno or Mayor Paul Schreiber after the meeting.

When Winston brought up the issue during the Council-proposed business portion of the agenda near the end of the meeting, she said, “My mind goes back to when you were looking into things with me.”

Kulhanek had filed a complaint against Winston with the city in 2007, alleging Winston had harassed her about her sexuality during a party at Club Divine to celebrate former Fire Chief John Robert’s retirement. The city hired an investigator to look into the matter, but no further action was taken.

After the $5,824 investigation, City Council voted to hold a hearing on the matter, but later voted to repeal the decision.

“Is this complaint legit?” Winston said during the meeting. “Will we be responsible?”

Koryzno said he expects to hear back from the labor attorney within two weeks. He said further action will be considered pending the outcome of the report.

To back up her allegations pertaining to Walker and Kulhanek's relationship, Turf cites both her common knowledge obtained while volunteering for the department as well as a record of the two making a donation to the Humane Society together and records from Ann Arbor's city Web site showing the two own a home together.

In separate e-mails received by the Citizen this morning, both Walker and Kulhanek said they could not comment on the matter. Walker said she had not seen Turf's letter.

"As the Chief of Police my focus is and always will be to protect and serve this community," Walker said in her e-mail. "The members of the Ypsilanti Police Department are dedicated to the community and the organization to improve the quality of life, while providing a safe environment, by working in partnership with the community through integrity, commitment, professionalism, and compassion."

Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect responses the Citizen received from Walker and Kulhanek after it had already been published, as the previous version did not include such comments. An e-mail had been sent by the Citizen to both parties asking for comment before it's publishing, stating if a comment was made it would be included in an update of this article.

Related articles:
Walker named YPD chief
City won't cover mayor pro tem's legal fees

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