New City Clerk under fire for racial remark

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 26, 2007) Newly hired Ypsilanti City Clerk Rebecca Bintz, is under fire for allegedly making a racially insensitive comment. Bintz, who is still in her probation period, was hired in December by Ypsilanti City Council and started work on January 22, 2007.

Just two months in her new position, it is alleged that Bintz used a racially charged word after an incident at city hall with an elderly customer who had come in and asked for city records. It is alleged that Bintz did not direct the word at the customer. It was after the customer left that Bintz is alleged to have used the epithet.

Bintz, who makes $60,000 a year, has not returned repeated calls from YpsiNews.com for comment on this story and the allegations.

On Saturday, Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) was asked about problems in the Clerk’s office. In a telephone call with YpsiNews.com, Schreiber said that, “Ms. Bintz has been a good employee and any decision about Ms. Bintz’s status is up to the City Council or Ms. Bintz.”

YpsiNews.com has learned that Schreiber met with Bintz twice last week. Schreiber would not confirm that he met with Bintz about the allegations saying that the subject of the meeting was personal.

On Saturday, Schreiber was specifically asked if he asked for Bintz’s resignation and Schreiber replied, “I will neither confirm or deny that I asked her and that is all I am going to say about this issue.”

Council members Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1) and Brian Robb (Dem, Ward 3) were contacted and asked if they were aware of the allegations against Bintz. They both said they were unaware of any problems in the Clerk’s office.

Richardson said she was “surprised to learn there were problems in the Clerk’s office or with Ms. Bintz.” She said that Bintz had been there just over a month and in all her dealings, Bintz had been easy to work with.

City Council has scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 Tuesday morning, March 27th. Schreiber was asked if anything else was to be discussed at the Tuesday Special Council Meeting besides the water bonds that are already on the agenda and Schreiber said no.

Under the rules of the City Charter, the City Council hires just two employees, the City Manager and the City Clerk. It is the City Manager, not the Mayor or Council, that is responsible for the hiring of all other employees and for the daily operation of the city.

City Manager Ed Koryzno took a medical leave of absence on March 9th. Bintz was cast as the new interim City Manager on March 12th under provisions of the City Charter. Sources inside City Hall had indicated that Bintz was not happy about being appointed Interim Manager. Citing her unfamiliarity with the city and that she was the only employee in the department, the next day Koryzno appointed Building Inspector and Building Department manager Charles Boulard as Interim City Manager. Koryzno is recuperating at home and is expected to return to work May 1.

Bintz was hired in July 2002, as Rebecca Lightner, to be city clerk in Bangor, Michigan. Bangor, population 1,933, is on the west side of the state. Bintz started at $28,500 and was making $33,000 a year in Bangor when she left her job four years later.

On the Van Buren County website they tell the story about Ed Cable an African-American living in Bangor, Michigan. Cable was a barber and businessman at the turn of the last century. An inappropriate racial comment was printed in the Bangor Advance newspaper before 1910. Cable responded by writing a letter to the paper. At a time when many would be afraid to speak out, Cable did and his letter was published the next week. Today, local preservationists are working to save and restore Cable’s home.

According to the 2000 Census, Bangor is 75.8% white, 12.7% African-American, and 12.2% Hispanic. By contrast Ypsilanti is 61.4% white, 30.6% African-American, and 2.5% Hispanic. (Hispanic is not considered a race by the Census Bureau which is why the numbers do not add to 100.)

Fairdata2000.com reports that Bangor has 798 registered voters. According to the Washtenaw County Clerk, Ypsilanti has 12,247 registered voters.

During the interviews with Ypsilanti City Council, Bintz cited her broad experience with a diverse community as one of the assets she would bring to Ypsilanti and why she would make a good clerk.

Bintz said during her interview that when she started working in Bangor there were four other people on her team. By the time she left, there was just one person in her office, Bintz.

See video of both of Bintz’s interviews with City Council. Her first interview was October 31, 2006. (Begins at 1hr:43min:20sec) Bintz’s second interview was December 12, 2006. (Begins at 3min:30sec)

This is not the first problem to befall the Ypsilanti City Clerk’s office. The City Clerks office has been beset with problems over the last several years. Every employee that has worked in the Clerk’s office in the last two years has either quit or transferred to a different department.

The Ypsilanti City Clerk’s department consists of just two people. Bintz and Frances McMullan who was just hired as the Deputy Clerk. McMullan started her new job March 19th and has been on the job less than one week. Prior to that, McMullan worked for the City of Ann Arbor.

McMullan will be preparing for her first election as Deputy Clerk when the Ypsilanti School Board election is held May 8th, just seven weeks away. The school board election is a joint election between the City and the townships of Ypsilanti and Superior.

Comments

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!