Clawson mayor resigns during council meeting

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The mayor of Clawson abruptly resigned Tuesday following issues with the Oakland County community's budget.

Reese Scripture, who was elected in November 2019, announced her decision at the start of the City Council's virtual meeting on Tuesday.

Reading a lengthy statement to the council, Scripture cited the panel's plans this month to pass a budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

The council had been slated to vote Tuesday on scheduling budget workshops over two days next week, followed by a public hearing on May 18.

Reese Scripture

Scripture said there was little time to properly review a proposed budget, for which she hadn't received a copy. She noted there was no information on the city's year-to-date financial status or other documentation to help inform the council's decision.

"How we’re going to have meaningful discussions about budget goals, which translate to policy, in a meeting with a full agenda — I don’t know," Scripture told the council at the meeting. "Nothing was provided to inform that conversation or structure. This administration has been asked time and time again to set meetings so that council can assess priorities, capital needs, establish goals."

Scripture went on to claim City Manager Mike Smith "expects this council to rubber-stamp whatever is put in front of us because no time is available for changes of any significance or additional review."

She also said the Planning Commission had not yet completed a capital improvement plan that would be "integral to our overall capital plan budget the council is tasked with adopting."

"... The failure of this administration to carve out the time and the space that would allow for this council to meet its highest obligation thoughtfully and deliberately is unacceptable to me," Scripture said. "And approving a budget that I fear will exacerbate and perpetuate the conflicts of interest that I face is unacceptable to me. And the failure of this administration to address the fundamental issues that cause the conflicts of interest has left me no choice but to resign as your mayor effective right now."

Scripture turned the meeting over to Mayor Pro Tem Paula Millan and left the Zoom call.

She did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday on her resignation.

Smith could not be reached. He did not address her decision during the council meeting.

Minutes after Scripture quit, Councilman Louis Samson said that Scripture worked for a government agency as her full-time job and "is held to a high standard."

"For the citizens of Clawson, you just lost the most active, caring mayor we’ve had in 30 years," he said.

He and Millan did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Before she defeated former Mayor Deborah Wooley in the 2019 race, Scripture served on Clawson's Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals. 

Her term as mayor was slated to end this year.

Renis Nushaj, the city attorney, told the council that Millan replacing Scripture creates a vacancy they would have to fill through appointing someone within 30 days.

"I was shocked and kind of saddened today because I hate that someone gave up a role that I know they fought for," Millan told the council at the end of the meeting Tuesday. "... She has very valid skills that were very needed on this council, but I can understand being exasperated. I think I’ve had those moments here not too long, also."