A Public Meeting in Ludington Where the General Public Cannot Attend

It's been about four years since a civil rights crisis broke out in Ludington right in the midst of the worldwide COVID social experiment, but a recent announcement forces us to look back again on those times.  In the middle of summer, the virus had subsided enough to enable most of the local tourism industry to get back to normal, among these was Harbor View Marina (HVM).  Over the prior winter, the marina went from being a state-owned, privately-ran facility to being managed instead by our city government, effectively becoming the second public marina.  

The lease crafted between the state and city stated clearly (in  legalese) among other things: 

 "Lessee (COL) may peacefully and quietly, have, hold, and enjoy the premises (HVM) provided that the use of the premises (HVM) by lessee (COL) is maintained open to the general public"

As noted in this article, the city would not allow the public (represented by me) to use the pool or clubhouse facility of HVM, that was first noted due to my experimentation on the eve of Independence Day, and 10 days later.  They effectively violated the 14th Amendment by making three classes of people as regards access to their facilities supposedly open to the public by dint of their contract and the fact they were a fully-public facility supported in large part by tax dollars.

At HVM, they still have signs at the shoreline of each docking pier that reminds one that it is off limits to the general public and signs around the pool saying the same (notably, the other city marina doesn't have such misleading signs).  They have installed numeric keypads at the entrance door to the clubhouse, which prevents the general public from entering that facility unless they have purchased a slip and got the code.  At both entrances to HVM's parking lot, you see the following sign as you enter:

If anything, Harbor View Marina has become more private in practice than public since being taken over by the City of Ludington and being called a fully public facility.  In the four years since, city leaders have not ever addressed the topic of the public being able to use HVM public facilities on equal and reasonable terms of either slip holders or the nearby private condo owners.  They could easily correct this but have chosen not to, deciding instead to ban the general public from the public facility. 

So, when they recently posted the announcement on their website and social media sites concerning a strategic planning session led by Allyson Brunette, Mitch Foster's good friend from Wisconsin whose company had the third lowest bid, the Ludington Torch was surprised that they would hold it in the heart of their faux-public facility at HVM:

This will be a meeting of the Ludington City Council, presuming four or more councilors show up, and thus follow the dictates of the Michigan Open Meetings ActSection 3(1) of that act says:  "All meetings of a public body must be open to the public and must be held in a place available to the general public."

A pretty simple concept, but the marina manager and the LPD has indicated authorities prohibit the general public from being in the clubhouse as I was on July 8, 2020, and those are shown in the police report that was made after I called 911 to complain about a city official trying to throw me out of a public place just for showing up there.

You look further down that police report and you would see me be threatened with trespassing if I ever showed up again inside the clubhouse or pool.  There would be no written policy that authorized Marina Manager Christensen to throw anybody off the public property for no reason, there was written policy in the lease agreement and in the Fourteenth Amendment that said a member of the public could not use the facility on equal and reasonable terms:

Any of our local public parks follow this guideline, even those with campgrounds.  When a camper pays for a campsite, much like a boater pays for a slip, they have been granted a high degree of control over that space, but any restroom, swimming area, playground, etc. should be open to all park-using members of the general public.  

Was it the first part of a strategic plan to keep the general public out of a meeting where they would have to park off-site and then hope that Manager Christensen and his assistant goon can keep those who don't have a marina slip out of the meeting?  Probably not, but this reporter will be filing a complaint to the city for holding this meeting in a place that is not available to the general public.

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I think the policy the COL is trying to put forth is that the facilities are open to the public but only to those that pay the necessary fees. It could be argued that if a fee is not established for use then the facilities would be swarmed with people making it to crowded to be of use to anyone. I agree with you but if they do not control access by fees than any non  paying boat owner could park their boat when a slip is empty. If the COL is going to treat the marina like a country club the wording on who is allowed to use it must be changed.

That's the point, Willy.  As a public facility, they cannot allow one class to use the pool freely (slip holders at either of the two public marinas), one class to pay a monthly stipend (as they do for owners of the condos to the north), and forbid one class of people entrance, without any chance of using the facilities like they do for the general public.  This is discriminatory when we talk about a public facility.  There are simple ways to correct this, but because the COL and their clientele at HVM want exclusive pool 'rights' they won't correct it by themselves.  It's as illegal under the law as if you'd see this sign, just with different classes:


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