Hamtown rerun

News Hits thought the final episode in the Hamtramck schools soap opera ended with the results of a volatile recall election in July. Turns out, the drama continues.

When we last left our unmerry cast of small-burg politicians, three Hamtown board members were in the midst of the recall battle (“Schoolyard Brawl,” Metro Times, July 14, 2004). Board President Camille Colatosti and members Alan Shulgon and Richard Hyska were eventually ousted by slim margins on July 20.

Forming a majority bloc on the seven-member board, the three allies — along with board member Hedy Shulgon, Alan’s wife (who was not subject to recall) — were pushing a controversial school restructuring plan that they argued would clean up the district after deposed superintendent Paul Stamatakis allegedly mismanaged $1 million in district funds.

News Hits figured the successful recall meant the trio would walk into the sunset, their restructuring plan aborted.

Well, we were part right. The controversial restructuring plan has been abandoned, but one of the ousted board members refuses to go away.

According to the Hamtramck City Clerk’s office, Shulgon used a loophole in the state law that allows recalled board members to run anew, so long as they don’t vie for their old seat, or one in the same term.

Shulgon and Hyska’s seats have three years left on them, but Colatosti’s term has just one year remaining. That’s the one he’s going for. And to make things more ironic, he’s running unopposed.

Six other candidates are running for the other two seats, but no one filed for Colatosti’s by the Aug. 30 deadline.

The election is Nov. 2.

“I pulled a shrewdy on them,” says Shulgon. We could almost see him smiling through the telephone.

Needless to say, his detractors are not happy.

“The war never finishes, man,” says Bo Karpinsky, head of the Hamtramck Federation of Teachers and one of the most vocal supporters of the recall effort. That’s not surprising since Shulgon and company were proposing layoffs to deal with a budget deficit of $2.8 million.

“I think it’s unbelievable that voters of the city vote somebody out, and somehow, there’s a loophole in the law that allows this man to come back on. There’s got to be a big reason why he really wants this $50-a-month job.”

Our thoughts exactly, considering how badly Shulgon and associates had their names raked over the coals before being booted.

“I think there are still a lot of people out there who have confidence in me,” Shulgon says. “I have deep concerns about money, and I can express them better from the chair, instead of the audience.”

Colatosti, who says she has no plans to get involved with Hamtramck politics anytime soon, says it makes sense in Shulgon’s case.

“Alan’s a political animal, and there’s a lot of unfinished business. It’ll be a real challenge to start again.” She is supporting him and hoping that, depending on who wins the other two seats, he can regain the majority.

Shulgon says this run is about serving the community in its proper state, not getting the last laugh.

Fair enough, but this has got to have him sleeping with a smile on his face.

Contact News Hits at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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