August 29, 2013GROSSE POINTE SHORES — A two-term office-holder lost another layer of trust this month, when a united city council removed Councilman Dan Schulte as mayor pro tem.
It was the second time in a year some of Schulte's municipal responsibilities have been taken away.
At the Tuesday, Aug. 20, Grosse Pointe Shores council meeting, Mayor Ted Kedzierski recommended excusing Schulte as mayor pro tem.
"I'd like to excuse Dan from his potential duties as mayor pro tem pending further action by the council," Kedzierski said.
The council agreed.
Councilman Alexander Ajlouni was absent, with council approval.
Councilwoman Kay Felt becomes mayor pro tem. The post is a stand-in for the mayor if he is unavailable or incapacitated.
Schulte didn't attend the meeting. It was his second consecutive excused absence.
He requested to be excused from this month's meeting in an e-mail early Tuesday afternoon to the mayor and council.
"I will keep you advised regarding my attendance," he wrote.
Schulte didn't respond to an e-mailed interview request.
The council acted within two weeks of Schulte's arrest at home Aug. 7, for domestic violence against his wife.
It was his second domestic violence arrest since May, although in that case the Wayne County Prosecutor didn't file charges.
Kedzierski, first elected to the council with Schulte in 2009, said removal wasn't punitive.
"We're considering the best interests of the city at this time and also the best interests of Dan," Kedzierski said. "We have to balance these interests."
After the meeting, he simply said, "I thought it best."
A week before the meeting, Schulte blamed the charges on the police.
"Apparently, the police don't like me," he said, speculating about retribution because the council two years ago reduced municipal employee retirement benefits.
The accusation is baseless, according to former Councilman Brian Geraghty.
"I'm here to state my strong support for our public safety officers and management," Geraghty said at the Aug. 20, meeting.
Two years ago, he introduced a budget motion that changed the benefit package.
"I have experienced no negative impact from any employee of this municipality at any time," Geraghty said. "In fact, the high level of response and courtesy and professionalism has been the hallmark of the 25 years I've lived in Grosse Pointe Shores."
"I don't know how any police department could be any more attentive and protective of its citizens," Felt added.
Schulte's first reduction in responsibility came last summer.
Kedzierski relieved Schulte, who cites employment as an automotive media director, as the city's public reactions spokesman.
Duty shifted to Ajlouni, a physician.
Schulte reacted by claiming to file grievances against Kedzierski's accounting and law licenses.
"I filed a couple grievances with the state board of licensing and board of ethics because this is getting out of hand," Schulte said at the time in a message on Kedzierski's cell phone.
Schulte then denied saying it.
"I never said in any capacity that I filed complaints at all," he said at the time. "I think this is a bunch of hot air."
Schulte's domestic violence case is being held in City of Grosse Pointe Municipal Court because Shores Judge Matthew Rumora recused himself.
Schulte is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in City court at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, on charges of:
assaulting, resisting or obstructing police, which has a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment;
interfering with a crime report, punishable by up to one year incarceration, and
domestic violence, punishable by up to 93 days in jail.
Schulte remains free on $1,000 personal bond.
Terms allow him access to his home office on Hampton between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday — hours and days his wife is normally out of the house at work.
Although the electorate put Schulte in office, the council named him mayor pro tem.
Schulte's lawyer, Patricia Galvin, of the Shores, is concerned about public awareness of his removal as mayor pro tem.
"There has been no judicial determination, and under the Constitution, an individual is presumed to be innocent," Galvin wrote Shores Manager Mark Wollenweber Aug. 19, the day before Schulte was removed. "Furthermore, it would create another media event that would be injurious to the well-being of all the parties as they are actively engaged in counseling at this time."
Schulte supporter and Shores resident, Dr. Robert Lee, criticized the council's apparent lack of due process.
"Your actions are reprehensible in taking action against a gentleman who's been accused of a situation where it's him against his wife," Lee told the council this month. "A man should not be sanctioned until he's had his due day in a court of law."
Vito Cusenza, another supporter and resident, questioned police officers' justification for arresting Schulte after his wife summoned them to their house via 911.
"He was inside his own house," Cusenza told the council. "There was no search warrant. You ought to hold off until you proceed citing him. And within a week or two, you'll have an idea of what's going on."
Lee said Schulte's problems are related to issues with his son.
The son is a former Shores seasonal employee. He left employment before the season ended.
"This whole thing was started, allegedly, on good word I've had, from an episode where he was sold drugs by your employees," Lee told the council. "You need to clean that mess up before you go after Dan."
"That allegation was made several weeks ago," said Wollenweber. "We take allegations like that seriously. It was found to be false. We could not verify that whatsoever."