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Beer parties. Limos. Pewabic pottery. Swanky restaurants. Movie and concert tickets. Lavish desserts.
Novi city officials have been living it up at the taxpayers’ expense, racking up more than $225,000 in the past five years on parties, entertainment and luxury for each other and visitors, according to a Muckraker examination of public finance records.
The bills raise serious questions about the city’s spending practices and whether they violate ethics laws.
The city routinely holds “employee appreciation” and retirement parties and splurges on big-ticket gifts, food and beverages.
Our investigation revealed numerous bar and restaurant bills that each exceeded $1,000, Pewabic pottery gifts for employees totaling more than $4,500 and one trip for chocolate desserts for nearly $1,500.
Using the city’s credit card, Novi officials also splurged when Japanese representatives from the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations were visiting. In June 2016, for example, the city spent more than $3,000 on food, concert tickets and alcohol. The bills included $476 from the Detroit Beer Company and $1,890 at Moes on Ten, a bar and restaurant in Novi.
City officials spent more than $3,000 at Short’s Brewing Company, $4,2oo on engraved gifts, at least $2,200 on massages and more than $3,000 on commemorative coins.
On at least seven different occasions, city officials billed taxpayers for limo rides to swanky restaurants and events, some of which were held in Novi.
They also bought theater tickets, fine wines, liquor and clothes and rented out space to host upscale parties at the Suburban Collection Showcase.
Mayor Bob Gatt, an admirer of President Trump who insists he’s a fiscally conservative Republican, didn’t return calls for comment.
This is the first of a multi-part investigative series on Novi officials.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.