When Ed Hahn was elected to be a Scottville Commissioner late last year, politics in Scottville was a bit laid back. City meetings would be quiet affairs where the councilors, city manager and city attorney would get together, go through the routines and be done within fifteen minutes. Few citizens would drop by, and even fewer would dare speak out about anything.
In Hahn's first year, there has been a complete change in how city business has went in Scottville. While not all change is good, he has started the conversations in the commission chambers and around the town, where he actively goes door to door to find out what the common folks of Scottville are thinking. Hahn has made some people feel uneasy by attacking several sacred cows of political dogma in Scottville, especially the necessity of maintaining a costly local police department.
Overall, it has widened the perspective of many in Scottville as to what is going on in their government, and empowered some as to what they can do to make their friendly town better. Meetings are now often standing room only affairs, with dozens of people coming in and many of them adding their voice. This is good for democracy and good for Scottville, no matter whether you mostly agree with Commissioner Hahn or not.
I liken his effect on Scottville politics to the effect that Donald Trump has had on the national Republican primary race. Both are flamboyant and bring many people in who wouldn't otherwise talk politics. They almost have a bit of a physical resemblance, with Ed having more orange in the background than in his hair and face.
The Mainstream Media is infatuated with Trump not because they like him or his politics, but because he gives them ratings when he says something out of the ordinary or carries on bombastically. Our local media (the City of Ludington Daily News and the Mason County Press) are much like their national counterparts in how they deal with Commissioner Hahn and the issues he raises.
But like the national press normally does with 'The Donald', the local news media cannot seem to rise above their prejudices and present a fair story about 'The Ed'. A case in point is the recently released story by both outlets which are amazingly similar to each other. When this happens it usually indicates that someone in the city sent a news release to both with the same talking points. Here, it is fairly evident that City Manager Amy Wiliams provided the information.
Here are links to the two stories, feel free to read them in their entirety, I provide a few snippets right after:
COLDNews: Scottville commissioner Ed Hahn delivers letter around city featuring Hahn's letter
Both include Amy Williams refutation: "Attached is a page from the June 30, 2015 City of Scottville Audit that shows what the water & Sewer funds did for the fiscal year. I’ve highlighted the net income/loss for each. For sewer they had a net income of $28,635 and the water fund had a net loss of $34,726 so together the funds had a net loss of $6,091. So you can easily see that the water and sewer funds do not make three times as much as they expend as Mr. Hahn notes in his letter. These numbers have been shared with him on several occasions and this audit was presented by our Auditors back in October and he was present at that meeting. However, he continues to give erroneous information out to the public."
The MCP includes: "Commissioner Ed Hahn continues to prove he either does not understand the city’s finances or is purposely misleading the public."
The first thing you may note is that Scottville Planning Commission Chairman Rob Alway, who doubles as editor for the MCP, leaves out the contents of the full letter and launches a thinly disguised attack at Mr. Hahn's understanding of the situation and/or his character. The second thing you may notice is that neither of the two news outlets have any feedback from Commissioner Hahn as to what the city manager has presented.
This is the typical tact our local media takes when someone takes a stand against the local system of government. This happens because too much of the media's own 'success' is dependent on the current system's success, so they must preserve that at all costs-- even if one of those costs is the loss of journalistic integrity.
City Manager Williams and both outlets look at a single line in Hahn's letter that says: "I have shown that the residents are paying three times the amount for water and sewer that the city pays out." and then tries to debunk it with a document which shows clearly that Hahn is technically correct about the sewer payments made by the city at face value:
The City is paid $329,323 (+ $1693) by the residents, but about one-third of this actually goes to the supplier of the service who gets $108,476; it should also be noted that there is no full time sewer employee, the $29,094 paid is the city managers assessment on how much of the Scottville's DPW's personnel resources are used. This does amount to the residents paying three times more than what they pay out for sewer. The excess is used on knocking down debt and 'future maintenance' of the water/sewer system, so City Manager Williams has her own point.
Commissioner Hahn is fully willing and able to go over his own material this coming Monday at 5:30 PM at Scottville City Hall, so he can better explain that situation for all who take up his invitation in the letter he hand delivered in a manner that no other councilor or commissioner in this county would. I discussed the controversy with him over the phone for about an hour, so I can guarantee you will find it interesting and prudent if you are fiscally conservative, and care about Scottville's financial future.
The scope of his letter was not meant to go into statistics few actually care about unless it reflects badly on their own statistics. It was to point out something that the other city leaders of Scottville will have to come to grips with in the future: reining in costs for residents so that people can still afford to live there in the future.
I am yet to meet a resident that likes him.
As I stated before, Alway needs to give up one of his hats, either the news letter or his involvement in Government. He's seriously loosing credibility while trying to influence people thru his news editing and his Political positions with the City. He's got one foot in a pile of crap and the other stuck in his oral cavity and it shows in his reporting.
I wondered whom that buffoon yelling was, you're right Willy, it is Alway. Rob Alway, wth is wrong with your demeanor? What kind of ignoramous would be screaming at any public meeting this way? Foot in mouth disease WIlly? I think it even goes farther than that. NOT a mature adult, and certainly NOT in ANY way a credible reporter, nor editor. I guess that's why the LDN kicked him out, he's childish and overbearing to anyone in the room, as evidenced by this rude behavior. And I thought Begnoche was bad, Alway doesn't bring any pride nor honor to his family name, maybe that's why he's kicked out of the family business too, wouldn't be surprised at all. Alway, start the New Year right, put yourself in a hospital for rehab and/or mental evaluation, you need to get your act together. If this was a Ludington council meeting, I'm afraid Chief Barnett would have taken you straight out to jail in handcuffs for disorderly conduct. I'm surprised that lame City Attorney didn't say anything either. Don't they have a bailiff or someone in attendance to quell this?
Wow. That was Rob Alway, which explains a lot. He really crossed a journalistic line. Let's face it, he also crossed a professional public servant line too, since he is the chair of the Scottville Planning Commission and completely disrupted a meeting of the Scottville City Commission, being obviously out of order, and totally disrespectful of one of the commissioners while doing so.
Surely, Rob's politics is and has always been pro-regime, whether it be the entrenched Ludington or Scottville machine, but he really needs to consider what he just did, and maybe take this holiday season to step back and realize what he's doing. It is not good journalism, and it is not good politics he is practicing.
Yes I can confirm that it was Rob Alway on a rant. Yes he was speaking out of line and the Mayor never addressed the issue. It a finely oiled machine.
I have no decided whether its arrogance or a true lack of common sense.
Wanted to post the meeting in this article comments for easier reference. The abrupt commencement of the meeting was interesting, and I wasn't sure about whether the public had a chance to comment at the meeting's end, until rewatching it.
Another minor thing starting at 22:45 in was the votes on accepting the resignation of Sally Cole from the SPC and the appointment of her husband Jerry Cole to her vacant spot following it. Sally, who was sworn in earlier, seems to vote on both of them (definitely on the second motion), but it would have been proper for her to formally abstain from voting on those two issues (especially the second), and note the reason for the official minutes.
Thanks for posting this video. It's a good thing Mr. Hahn recorded this meeting because it shows just what he's going thru. The uncontrolled bursts from the audience and the mistaken assumptions that are being propagandized by other Council members. The mayor telling Hahn to "shut up" is way out of line and is very disturbing, and Alway's interruption of the meeting by screaming and the Mayor abruptly calling the meeting to an end while discussions were still in progress is also disturbing. It's hard to believe that this meeting got so out of control.
You know Torchers, it's not so long ago that this forum fully endorsed and proudly supported Rob Alway, and the MCP for which he is editor. We thought some new local blood was going to put the story straight on the local political scene, and that Alway was a man of integrity and honor. That was then, and this is now. Since Alway has recently shown he cannot put a straight talk on his MCP for some time now, and then demonstrates this shameful conduct at the Scottville mtg., I cannot endorse him any longer as a trusted and honest reporter. He has now shown his full color in this matter, and in his biased non-objective personality. His best options now as I see it is to close-up shop at the MCP, and resign his political affiliations with Scottville. Retire, and take a loooong vacation.
We had truly endorsed Rob Alway's MCP enterprise for the first couple years of its inception, but the MCP has stalled quite a bit, I would even say it has regressed even though one must admit that he does invest a good deal of effort into it . If I read an on-line story nowadays without being told the source, I can not figure out whether it's the MCP or the COLDNews; that is not a good thing.
In the dozens of Ludington council meetings he has attended, Mr. Alway has never bothered contacting myself about the contents of any of my comments, even though I would gladly give him records for extra exposure of the graft and corruption incipient with our city hall. Instead he follows and prints the city hall line when they get sued by me or others or they just do something egregiously unethical or illegal. This is far from fair, but after watching Commissioner Hahn's video, I guess I should be thankful that he has not interrupted my special five minute moments with the council.