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How a Pizza Party Made A Whole Town Angry At Their Mayor

Delicious pizza or the institutionalized homelessness of your neighbors—pretty hard choice, right? Garden City’s out-of-luck residents certainly don’t think so.
November 11, 2015, 9:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Lucas Richarz

Screw a Klondike Bar. What would you do for a pizza? Better yet, how about your very own pepperoni pizza party? What sort of unspeakable act would you actually commit in the name of said wondrous gathering?

How about forsaking the very people who provide you with your livelihood, all while they desperately struggle to avoid homelessness?

If that's the case, you must like pizza just as much as Randy Walker does. Not the football player-turned-coach—we're talking about the current mayor of Garden City, Michigan, which is part of Metro Detroit—a.k.a. the Detroit metropolitan area. And before you ask: No, we weren't exaggerating about how much this dude likes his 'za.

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It all started on Monday, when several City Council members—including Mayor Walker—walked out on a public session without taking comments from seven or more Garden City residents, all of whom were facing eviction. Now, that might seem par for the course in the frigid world of politics, but Walker's reasoning for doing so is what is truly batshit crazy.

When asked the following day why he refused to allow the desperate residents to speak their minds, Walker stated that the main purpose of the meeting was to swear in new public officials. That, and he didn't want miss the totally killer pizza party he was throwing for himself and the other City Council members immediately afterwards. "It's a happy occasion," Walker explained. "We had food waiting. We had pizza coming out of the oven at 7:45."

Delicious pizza or the institutionalized homelessness of your neighbors—pretty hard choice, right? Garden City's out-of-luck residents certainly don't think so. Nicholis P. Dunsky, who faces eviction from his home after failing to pack back taxes on time, told The Detroit News, "That's a … (poor) excuse. We felt like we didn't matter."

This whole sordid affair seems to have arisen due to Garden City's practice of obtaining tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County before they were ever even offered to the public in an auction. The houses were then sold to various developers, who in turn planned to quickly flip the homes for some easy money.

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Officially, the city's actions are aimed at preventing absentee landlords from purchasing the properties. That rationale doesn't fly very well with many of the homeowners, though, who claim they weren't notified of the sales of their properties until they were served with eviction notices. Some even claim they still had time to make payments and save their homes.

Leonard Niehoff, a University of Michigan law professor, told The Detroit News that the law requires some form of public comment at public meetings. Violation of this requirement is a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $1,000.

But when there's pizza waiting, some public officials are willing to take their chances.