Fifteen months ago, I explored the very serious problem of the City's leaders, both Mayor and Manager Johns, not following the law in making appointments to all the various committees and boards the City creates to handle a variety of purposes, and called it Commissions of Sins.

 

The change from 2010 to 2011, saw those appointments continuing for the most part unabated, even with the heads-up provided by The Ludington Torch.  The change from 2011 to 2012 is even more constructive in looking at this topic since now two of these committee members are now sitting City Councilors.  One has decided to curb his participation in the subordinate committees, one has decided to wear four hats. 

 

The Parks Advisory Board has disbanded, its purpose having been served by the encroachment of Stearn's and Cartier Park by the skate park and the dog park, respectively.  You may approve of both or not, but the methods used by the City of Ludington to secure parts of our long standing parks for a change of use was not according to our City Charter, which requires a popular vote by the City electors, not the City Council after hiding the process in a committee. 

 

The PAB had a questionable pedigree, having Walhalla native Kevin Spuller serving on it.  The City had a long-standing contract with Kevin Spuller's company, Carr Creek for the sidewalk/paving programs, even though they weren't licensed for at least part of their employment.  I don't really want an unlicensed independent sidewalk/paving contractor who works for the city (who doesn't live in the City) be advising the City on what to do with our parks.  I could see some bias of his wanting to pave as much of it as possible.  Good riddance, PAB.

 

But here's what we have for this year, now that Mayor John Henderson and City Manager John Henderson have made their picks.  And once again, the Ludington City Charter has not been followed.  Check out the appointments at their 1-9-2012 City Council meeting.  Then note:

 

Section 1200:2:2 of the City Charter says:  "...All appointed members of the Commission shall hold no other municipal office, except that one of the appointed members may be a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)."

 

Both Kirk Josvai and Mike Nekola both serve on the Planning Commission as well as the Cable Advisory Board and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Committee respectively.  Those other positions should be vacated immediately by Mike and Kirk.

 

Section 9.3 of the City Charter says:  "The Board of Review shall consist of five (5) electors of the City who, at the time of their appointment, are neither elected nor appointed officials of the City." 

 

These officials get appointed each year, and the rule seems explicit enough, but two of the members are over-employed by the City. 

Fred Hackert does not only sit on the Board of Review but also the Municipal Marina Board and is appointed, as all members are, to the Fire Department

Les Johnson not only is on the Board of Review, but also the Ludington City Council, the Downtown Ludington Board (DLB/DDA), and is on the Recreation Board.  That's four hats for Les, one more than he had last year.    I wonder when Les has the time to read the City Charter, because he obviously hasn't had the time to just yet.

 

To his credit, new City Councilor Nick Tykoski has stepped down from the DDA Board and his position on the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Councilor Les Johnson should be commended for his willingness to serve his community, but should at least vacate his Review Board position as is mandated by the laws that he is supposed to live by.  You will notice he did abstain from voting for that Board's membership for a conflict of interest, but any parliamentarian should have noted he was forbidden from the Board.

 

As I said fifteen months ago, the City Manager John Shay and Mayor John Henderson should not be appointing these people in contradiction to our established laws, and the City Attorney and City Council should not let them do so.  This will only lead to further cherry-picking of laws they decide to follow. 

 

It makes claims of them making other more serious infractions of the law more plausible, and less deniable.

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This year, I made a resolution to not only report on the unlawful actions of our City and County officials, but to do what I could do to have justice and the law win out over conflicts-of-interest and unlawful behavior.  To this end, I sent the following to Prosecutor Paul in order to get some attention to the topic.  I will let him have a few weeks to act on or ignore it and then I will send the CC-ed Attorney General of Michigan some more hard copy if the PA boots it.  AG Schuette will see a lot from this postmark this year, I predict.

 

Incompatible Public Offices

To:  prosecutor@masoncounty.net
CC:       Les22j@frontier.net  
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:57 PM
I am bringing forth a complaint of a violation of the Incompatible Public Offices Act (MCL 15.181, et. seq.) by Ludington City Councilor Les Johnson.  To remind you “Incompatible offices” means public offices held by a public official which, when the official is performing the duties of any of the public offices held by the official, results in any of the following with respect to those offices held:
(i) The subordination of 1 public office to another.
(ii) The supervision of 1 public office by another.
(iii) A breach of duty of public office.
 
On the 1-9-2012 Ludington City Council Meeting:  http://www.minutesondemand.com/data/ludingtoncitymi/files//cou-regmin-01092012_20120115124856.pdf.dir//January%2009,%202012%20City%20Council%20Regular%20Meeting%20Minutes~50764.pdf LCC's Les Johnson is noted as being appointed to the Board of Review in the middle of p.4:  "Moved by Councilor Castonia, seconded by Councilor Taranko, to approve the appointment to the Board of Review for 2012. Councilor Johnson abstained from vote due to conflict of interest. Motion Carried. "
 
Abstaining from the vote, does not lessen the fact that he is on the Board of Review which is subordinate to the City Council.  In that regard, the City Charter says in section 9.3:  "The Board of Review shall consist of five (5) electors of the City who, at the time of their appointment, are neither elected nor appointed officials of the City.  They shall be appointed annually by the Mayor with consent of Council..."
 
But I am not asking you to enforce our City's ordinances, which the City Council and Manager have no interest in so doing, I am asking you to enforce this as per state law MCL 15.184:  "a prosecuting attorney may apply to the circuit court for Ingham county or to the circuit court for the county in which the alleged act or practice in violation of this act is alleged to have occurred or in which a party to the alleged violative act or practice resides, for injunctive or other appropriate judicial relief or remedy." -- if the party guilty of this offense, Les Johnson, does not voluntarily give up this office immediately, and admit to wrongdoing in the acceptance of this office unlawfully.   Note also that LCC Johnson is a member of the Downtown Ludington Board which is also supervised by the Ludington City Council.  Even though this also functions as the City's DDA, which allows dual membership in the City Council, it is a separate entity from the DDA, and his membership in the DLB should be terminated by the Incompatible Offices Act as well.  Thanks for your taking action on this matter, that is in the public interest of good governance by reducing the appearance of conflicts of interest.

 

I think you should do both. Report on the ulawful actions and send the information to those whose duty it is to see that laws are enforced. Good job.

Keep your eyes and ears open, Willy, and report what you see here.  I will probably have to be scaling back my postings here due to not having enough time to do research beyond what I need to do to see that the local governments do their job according to their oath of office, serving the public they receive all of their power from, not using that power as a club on the public. 

If you want to stay apprised of current court events, look to the sidelines in the "City is 2 Damn Corrupt Movement" group.  I think it's mostly too dry for the general forum.

hi ideals sound great on paper or on the moniter but the other side has compleat control over the low ideals.  counciler johnson will keep all his hats.  there law is to do the exact oppisite of what you point out.

And your OK with that?

Smart observation, Verdad, however some of these boards and committees are formed because state law says they must exist in some form, like a Planning Commission, Board of Review, etc.  A DDA must have its own governing body.  Other mundane boards like the Cable Advisory Board, Parks Advisory Committee seem redundant, but are probably formed in order to qualify for state/federal funding or grants. 

The five committees of three council members each are all supposed to be advisory boards, however, what tends to happen is that they do all of the talking amongst themselves, formulate plans, and then send it upward without the issue being seen by the public until it has already been molded by a handful of city officials in private.  They can shut the public out of these committee meetings, they do not need to keep minutes (though they generally do, and they are available through FOIA), and if you do show up, they don't need to let you talk. 

The only one I have attended (other than the June 2015 one where they invited all the Ludington landlords in to discuss rental inspection) was last September; they discussed my request to have a campaign campfire down at the beach without asking for any more input from me.  Shortly after that, the chairman of that committee Mike Krauch, Shay and Chief Barnett, revealed their records of their investigation into some less-than-provocative speech in this forum, recounted here at Threatening Times.  All three were present and acted like little kids when giving me (and other media leaders who never made formal FOIA requests) my FOIA request concerning their investigation of nothing.

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