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Who's in charge in Dearborn? Mayor O'Reilly's absence from public eye raising questions

Posted at 2:51 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 18:26:18-04

(WXYZ)  — The top leader in the city of Dearborn is under scrutiny after devastating floods hit the city.

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In the wake of that major flooding disaster, there have been more calls for the mayor to personally address the community, but so far that still hasn’t happened, leading to more questions about who’s running the city.

On the streets of Dearborn, the mere mention of Mayor 'Jack' O’Reilly has homeowner Mike Hashem all riled up. He said he's left voicemails for the mayor.

"Nothing. None of them have been returned,” said Hashem.

Hashem is one of hundreds with a flood damaged home or business and he’s among those claiming the mayor has avoided speaking publicly for more than a year.

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“It’s a matter of being present in times of need, flooding or disaster,” said Hashem.

As severe rain led to major flooding, the mayor’s office delegated the city’s police and fire chiefs to field questions. The council president also hit the streets to help citizens clean up and pledged to advocate for solutions.

Yet the mayor has repeatedly declined our phone calls and interview requests, and skipped the most recent city council emergency meeting, all while suggesting it would take a whopping $500 million for an ideal infrastructure fix.

On a visit to the mayor’s home, our door knocks went unanswered.

Community leader Osama Siblani tells us the mayor who’s not seeking re-election has actually been out of sight since the COVID pandemic turned deadly.

“Fifty six people in Dearborn died at that time, and the mayor was no where to be found,” said Siblani.

The publisher of The Arab American News endorsed O'Reilly back in 2017, but is now critical of his performance.

"Somebody else is doing the job, but not the mayor. He’s not reachable. The president came here and he didn’t even say anything,” said Siblani.

He’s referring to a recent visit by President Biden to see the new electric Ford F-150m a huge event where the mayor also declined to speak.

When asked if people had a right to ask where the mayor is, Dearborn City Councilwoman Leslie Herrick said, "I think it's reassuring to see your mayor out front and center."

And asked whether council had been notified of any change in his health status, she said they had not received any information.

A spokesperson for the mayor confirmed he tested positive for COVID during the pandemic, but insists he still oversees all the city’s operations.

It's no comfort to Hashem.

"Even through Zoom or any type of means, the mayor has not come out yet and said anything,” Hashem said.

We are still waiting to learn if and when they mayor will make a public appearance to talk about the flooding disaster. In the meantime, we’ll continue pushing for answers.