About Garth Christie
- Township Clerk

Garth Christie

Garth Christie is a life-long resident of Redford and an honor graduate from Thurston High School, the University of Michigan Dearborn (B.A.), and Wayne State University (J.D.). He is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Michigan.

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Redford, Michigan 48239


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Feature Story

Feb 2015


I regularly confer with my colleague, Treasurer Lily Cavanagh. This allows us to compare notes on a total range of Township issues. Last spring we noticed a disturbing trend rising out of complaints from our small business community. Too often, after a business owner contacted the Township regarding a problem, there was no follow through. The problems festered and the business owner’s frustration and anger were compounded. Then, completely fed up, they confronted one of us. Neither Lily or I sought to find fault or assign blame, rather, we wanted to find out why and to find an answer.

In most cases the business owner contacted the wrong person, looked for help in the wrong places and just did not understand the system. The problems would have been much easier to remedy in the front end if only we had known sooner. A proactive approach was needed.

The idea for a business ombudsman first took root when Lily and I discussed these scenarios over lunch with Steve Zdravkovski, the former owner/operator of DiMaggio’s Bakery for 38 years. I was not sold on the idea. I was sure that a Geschaftsproblemfixierer was the best approach but kept an open mind. It was more important to agree on the nature of the problem than the solution at that point.

During the summer I met one on one, or one on two, with my colleagues as time permitted since I was busy with the Primary Election. Breaks allowed ideas to germinate and I was still able to meet with some colleagues multiple times. I wanted to take everybody’s ideas and forge a solution. I encouraged everyone to participate and contribute.

Trustee Patricia Kennedy was surprisingly terrific. She has been ill and should be praised for having the courage and strength to battle a serious illness to come back to duty on the Township Board. Her insight as a Township business owner is invaluable. She understands how these problems can arise based on her business experience but she didn’t buy my Geschaftsproblemfixierer solution.

How and how much to pay for any solution was another obstacle. Lily Cavanagh proposed $1 per year plus expenses and Steve consented. It seemed like the problem was solved. After further review this was determined to be unworkable so we went to a flat $30,000 promise for expenses to be paid at some time in the future when we can find the money. In hindsight this is better for the Township and we would have paid more for expenses otherwise. Lily put the best interests of the Township ahead of her ego and she deserves praise for her dedication.

I moved slowly and brought this to the Board in three steps in an effort to gain consensus. I wanted everybody on board and am concerned about sabotage. Experience shows that a disgruntled minority can be eager to gain redemption and to say “I told you so”.

Special recognition should also go to Trustee Jay Johnson. Jay completely rewrote my draft of the most important section of the proposal. Even though I’m a lawyer, I deferred to Jay’s language hoping it would gain broader support. It didn’t work and the ombudsman proposal prevailed with a slim 4-3 victory and only now I realize that the Supervisor and her supporters never would have voted for this no matter what.

Ombudsman is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “An official or semi-official office or person to which people may come with grievances connected with the government. The ombudsman stands between and represents the citizen before the government.” I believe the Township Board does a good job addressing our residents’ grievances. After a resident complains about something during citizen’s comments at our meeting I go visit them so I can see it for myself. I’m always the second or third Board member to visit with either or both Trustees Johnson and Kennedy beating me to the punch. We needed someone for our business citizens to go to even if it is not a Geschaftsproblemfixierer.

Steve DiMaggio is a well known and hardworking immigrant businessman and I accept his offer to help promote our business community and economic viability wholeheartedly. Over the past few months Steve has contacted hundreds of businesses. He seems to work around the clock, even on Sundays. I’ve met with him and business owners a couple of times after church doughnut hour. He offers new business owners tips on best practices based on his 38 years of experience and has lured entrepreneurs to take a look at investing in Redford. Conversely he has uncovered some ugly truths but we need to know about the problems before we can fix them. We wanted a more proactive approach.

A thriving small business community is vital to our Township and we need to do all we can to promote their success. We need to have a more proactive approach to helping our commercial citizens’ problems. Too often they’re complaining to the wrong person who treats them politely but incompetently. Even though it was not my idea I will do everything I can to make the ombudsman approach succeed because it addresses the needs of our Township.


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Redford, Michigan, 48239
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