Hamtramck Banksy Authenticated

Update: Happy April Fools Day!

See also “Feral Swine Spotted near GM Poletown”, “Biotech Startup Coming to Hamtramck”, “Under the Painted Lady“, “Hustler Club at Shoppers World“, “Cashing in on Bankruptcy“, “City manager replacement found“, and “Religious Manufacturer Breaking Ground”.

I must say, I am surprised at the amount of attention this received. About 100 people took pictures, 2 women added their own work, 3 groups checked the mounts, one man took a discarded cane from behind the bulletin board, and one very nervous person in all black clothing partially removed one of the screws.

The replica of “Laugh Now” is a real painting, but it was produced with the help of talented Detroit artists who may take credit if they wish. The quotes by Banksy are from this article on Forbes.com. The rest is just plain made up.

A stencil on the corner of Sobieski and Commor in Hamtramck was painted by none other than British street artist Banksy.

This work is based on an earlier piece, “Laugh Now”, commissioned for a Brighton night club in 2002. The new message can only be a reference to the 555 Gallery and their intention to sell part of a wall taken from the Packard Plant in Detroit.


We couldn’t believe it either, but when we heard from a friend of a friend that Banksy had again visited Detroit to make a statement about “commercialism, capitalism and the mechanics of the art market”, we sent a request to Pest Control, a service that issues certificates on behalf of the artist. Despite their promise of a “lengthy and challenging process”, they were quick to reply in this case.

“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is – with council workers wanting to remove it and kids wanting to draw moustaches on it, before you add hedge-fund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace.”

“For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place.”

2013 Primary Results

731 Abdul Algazali
670 Karen Majewski
363 John Ulaj
251 Cathie Ladzinski Gordon
5 Write-in

4-year council seats
407 Rashad Almasmari
307 Armani Asad
404 Showkat Chowdhury
517 Susan Dunn
195 Richard Fabiszak
764 Mohammed Hassan
837 Andrea Karpinski
340 Anthony Liggett
354 Jewel Mohammed
542 Titus Walters
5 Write-in

2-year council seat
159 Darren Grow
738 Abu Musa
362 Ian Perrotta
336 Darla Swint
150 Beverly Tran
4 Write-in

>> Detailed results

2013 candidates for 2-year council seat

The polls open for the primary in just a few hours. Voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballot for only one of the following candidates.

Darla D. Swint: Third generation Hamtramckan. Masters Degree in Counseling Education, Bachelors in Community Service Work, and Associates as a Social Work Technician, trained in conflict resolution. Former cost accountant with a diploma from Detroit Business Institute in Business Management. Worked in the Hamtramck Municipal Courts at one time. Co-founded a community outreach breakfast program. Asked to form the first parent organization at an Alternative School. Very involved in her church. Says that the city is known outside of Detroit for good food and bars. Intends to reestablish communication between the city and the public. Supports having a Police Department that better reflects diversity in the city. Wants to create a tax incentive for new businesses that employ Hamtramckans. A person named Darla Swint filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy at an address in Detroit in 2003.

Ian Perrotta: Bachelor of Arts degrees in English Writing, Political Science. Copy editor for The Review newspaper. Appointed by Majewski as representative to the Millenial Mayors Conference. Member of the committee to restore the grandstands. Campaign goals include reducing vacancies on Joseph Campau by actively marketing the city to small and big businesses, improve Hamtramck’s image with a proactive media campaign promoting the city, work with other council members to create a cohesive plan for prosperity, and rehabilitate Hamtramck Stadium and utilize it for public use.
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2013 candidates for 4-year council seat

Tomorrow is the primary for city council elections. Each voter will be allowed to choose two three candidates from this list.

Andrea Karpinski: Third generation Hamtramckan. Currently works as an office assistant for the State of Michigan. Former employee of the City of Hamtramck for 7 years, working in the DPW and then in Police Department records. Frequently attends council meetings. Former President of AFSCME Local 666. Pledges to work with the emergency manager to bring the city out of financial hardship.

Jewel Mohammed: Hamtramck resident since 2000. Graduated from high school in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Attended Queensboro Community College and Wayne County Community College. Has worked for Motor City Casino the last 13 years. Served on the Clean Sweep committee and is a member of the community patrols. Has regularly attended council meetings for 2 years. Advocate for more police, accountability, a clean city, small business, and economic development.

Anthony J. Liggett: Hamtramck resident of 13 years. Works for a law firm. Donates to local homeless shelters and is known to give away warm clothes to improperly dressed people on the way to work. Endorsed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Wants to revitalize downtown shopping district, support local industry, and create Community Advisory Boards. Is not willing to sacrifice the protection and security of our police and fire departments.

Susan Dunn-Rahdar: Current member of the Assessor’s Income Tax board of review. Attends the majority of council meetings. Former member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee regarding the medical waste incinerator Wayne County Medical waste advisory board. President of the Southend block club. Member of Hamtramck citizen patrol and Emergency Response team. Working to establish dog parks in the city. Was once a nurse. Advocate for a paramedic program. Convicted of voter discrimination in 2000 for questioning the citizenship of voters of Middle Eastern and Asian decent, leading to U.S. Justice Department monitors and a $150,000 settlement with 15 U.S. citizens. Has spoken against new mosques broadcasting the call to prayer.
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Mayoral candidates of 2013

The primary election is tomorrow. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.

Cathie Ladzinski Gordon: Registered nurse (retired). Co-owner of New Dodge Lounge for 27 years. Associates degree from Macomb County Community College. Serving her 5th year on council and served 5 years on the DDA board. Served on the 75th Anniversary Committee. Chairs the committee to repair the grandstands. Co-organized the Hamtramck Festival for 4 years. Advocates financial transparency, accountability, and getting back to basics, such as policing and code enforcement. Promises to provide leadership and PR for the city as mayor. Believes we should focus on business retention over recruitment and take care of current residents over potential residents. Supported the DDA, DDA TIF, and EDC. Championed the parental responsibility ordinance requested by residents and the police department. Says council meetings will be productive and all voices will be heard when she presides over meetings. Promises not to turn our safety departments over to a neighboring community or the county, hold regular office hours, and improve the morale of employees and residents. Was a member of the council when the ambulance service was privatized. Understands the state budget laws. Well connected to contractors, employees, and business owners, but not always in a good way. Has been arguing against some unnecessary spending, but her confrontational negotiation style has not helped with convincing others or retaining allies. Suspicious of everything and everyone, including good ideas, volunteers, and good employees. Has voted against rebidding contracts when it was recommended by city managers.

Karen Majewski (incumbent): Mayor 2005 to present. President of the City Council 2003-2005, the first woman to hold the position. Earned a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, where she now works. Said in the 2009 election that she has been a resident for 10 years; At the mayoral forum, said she has lived in Hamtramck 25 years. Eats and shops locally. Former Curator of the Polish and Rare Books Collection at Orchard Lake Schools. Former executive secretary and Director of the Polish American Historical Association for 10 years. Former member of the Hamtramck Historical Commission. Trustee to the Michigan Municipal League Board and former president. Member of the defunct Solidarity Slate, a political organization that ran Hamtramck government leading up to two state takeovers. Supports surveillance cameras on Joseph Campau. Supported taxpayer-funded demolition of Shopper’s World for 54 subsidized apartment units and an Aldi. Purposefully limits the ability of long-term residents and business owners to comment on public affairs at council meetings. Quarrels with residents during pubic comment. Has had residents and councilpeople removed from meetings by the police. Took responsibility for filing the residency complaint against Cathie Gordon, which cost the city over $42,000 in legal fees. Claims not to want a merger of police and fire services with another municipality, but the number of shift patrol officers has been reduced greatly during her tenure, and the ambulance service was privatized. Voted to issue an illegal RFP to outsource the fire department in 2006. Participated in an illegal meeting with a potential city manager. Member of the council when it failed to remove Housing Commission appointees who were later removed by HUD. Supported establishment of an EDC, BRA and DDA TIF. Has raised campaign contributions primarily from city contractors. Filed campaign statements with the County Clerk showing that her campaign fund had a negative balance from the Primary Election of 2005 until mid 2007, with outstanding debts of more than $6000. An amended filing for 2008 shows an opening balance that is roughly $4000 more than the ending balance in 2007. Is one of the politicians most responsible for the revolving door in the city manager’s office and the rampant cronyism at City Hall. Supported the hiring of an unqualified political supporter as acting city manager with an attempted murder charge pending against him. Has made a habit of taking credit for the accomplishments of others. Blames the arrival of an emergency manager on the state and national economies. Supported retention of a city events coordinator and continued payments to lobbyists for the automotive industry, even at the cost of public safety. Vowed to continue working with lobbyists at the recent mayoral forum.

John Ulaj: Real Estate Broker and owner of The Review Newspaper. Graduated from Hamtramck High in 1991. Associate Degree in marketing. Also took classes at Walsh College. Former Chairman of the Assessor’s Board of Review. Attends a council meeting once every few years. Wants to replace members of the zoning and planning commissions because they approved legal mosques. Wants to “restructure” the DDA. Hung campaign signs before allowed by law. Prints full page advertisements in his newspaper for his mayoral campaign and the campaigns of some other candidates at no charge. Has been a solid supporter of retaining independent public safety services. Promises to raise property values by 25-40% by increasing the turnover in housing owned by long-term residents. Wants to increase tourism by people in the suburbs, improve services, repair infrastructure, have a clean city with adequate lighting, the best parks, to restore the grandstands, and have a bike path. Says all streets and alleys would be repaved incrementally if elected, and wants to have police officers on bicycles. Says he wants to show landlords that the city means business, but his family owns some of the most tax delinquent and abused rentals in Hamtramck. Described his own delinquent tax payments on the newspaper office as “a business decision”. When asked how he would accomplish his campaign promises, he said he would eliminate Platinum Landscaping “for ripping the city off”, which he would have no authority to do unless there was a tie vote on the city council. Believes the role of mayor is to be in charge of commissions like planning, zoning, and the DDA, which is not the case under state law. Promised during a candidate forum, “I will put money in your pockets because I know business.”

Abdul Algazali: Resident of Hamtramck more than 30 years. Licensed Chiropractor in the State of Michigan. Earned an associates degree at Wayne County Community College, and a doctorate from Life University of Chiropractic School in Atlanta, GA. Former board member of the Chamber of Commerce. Former member of the Plan Commission and Human Relations Commission. Current mayor pro tem. Always votes against tax and rate increases. Does not support the DDA, EDC, or BRA, and advocates for focusing on essential services. Frequently cites the statistic that 50% of all businesses in the USA are small business. Stated that he would end traffic patrols after receiving tickets. Wanted to make up for lost revenue with pay cuts for elected officials and department heads and concessions from the unions, but didn’t produce plans to do so. Wants to offer the next city manager $50,000 per year salary. Has not written a piece of legislation in 7+ years of serving on council. Did not attend a recent mayoral forum. Is absent from the country for months at a time. More often than not, asks questions during meetings that have already been asked and answered. Will not shake hands with women.