Ludington City Council February 27, 2017 Meeting: Fertile Grounds for Mischief

The meeting of the Ludington City Council for the date of February 27, 2017 had a variety of topics therein, lasting just under one hour and preceding the next meeting by just one week.  Perhaps the most controversial topic on the agenda was the first reading of the proposed ordinance dealing with the rezoning of small lots within the city to allow for development of single family houses in lots under 60 feet width.  In reviewing this topic after the meeting, it was found that this deserved extra attention in another article [in construction].

The business of the meeting included the council approving the various events of the DDA and the liquor licenses they needed for the four events that require them (two after-FNL soirees, Oktoberfest, and the New Year's Eve Ball Drop).  As usual, public money will be used to purchase beers, wines, and liquors for sale at these events, to be sold to hopefully make back the money spent.  In the process, they presumably take away money from the downtown businesses that make their living off selling the same stuff. 

The Petunia Parade timeline was announced.  They awarded the Alley Paving contract to the lowest bidder.  They adopted two bond resolutions for some of  the water and sewer work to be done in the 2nd and 4th Wards.  They made a resolution to change the Fourth Ward polling place from the old PM School to the Danish Hall just up the block (due to the interference some elections had on school activities).

There were two 2016 reports for Cartier Park and the Ludington Fire Department.  Both indicated they were busier, with the LFD nearly tripling their runs due to their first responders being called out to all priority one calls in the city.  There may be new bathroom facilities coming to Cartier Park soon.

The first reading of an ordinance for lawn fertilization came in likely leading to awarding Turf Care-Mole Man (owned by state representative Curt VanderWall, who was present at the meeting and schmoozing with city officials before the meeting) the contract, as they had the low bid about $650 less than the current contractor, Larsen's Landscaping.  The city started paying roughly $3000 a year starting in 2014 to fertilize the lawns of their various properties within the city.  The services include fertilization of about 26 acres of land 2-5 times a year, and a single treatment of lime at Rotary Park. 

                                      Hans MoleMan from The Simpson's, no relation to Congressman VanderWall that we know of

The bids were noted in the April 28, 2014 council packet p. 37 at that time, between the same two companies, with Larsen's underbidding Mole Man by $1400; this meeting's council packet p. 40, shows Michigan Congressman's Curt VanderWall reducing his prices by nearly $2000 to get the contract.  Before you suggest that his recent rise from county commissioner to state representative may have played a roll in the awarding of this contract, be advised that fertilizer prices have been going down during that period, and Larsen's bid should have reflected that rather than being larger.

Beyond Spence Riggs lauding the new zoning ordinance's virtues early on, I was the only citizen to comment.  Whereas, I further covered and revisited two topics concerning official wrongdoing, unlike the last meeting, I received no protestation or refutations by city officials at the end.  Had they reviewed the last meeting and realized they had made major gaffes and errors of judgment in responding to my concerns inappropriately, or do they believe ignoring their nemesis will make the meaningful issues go away-- just like they've treated the lead problem through the years.  My first comments relied mostly on data I shared with the rest of the public in John Shay's Ten Year Legacy of Lead, and is transcribed below the video.

February 27, 2017 Ludington City Council Meeting from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

XLFD (5:40 in):  "The minutes of the last meeting you are set to approve at tonight's meeting has some inaccuracies about the drinking water situation in Ludington that failed to be corrected by the various utility supervisors or this panel.  After utility maintenance supervisor Plamondon admitted that there were quite a few lead goosenecks in the water system of Ludington leading from the water main to galvanized pipe that hooked up to the curb shut off valve, I was shocked, shocked to hear him claim that these two foot long or so lead pipes were not the city’s responsibility.

 

Is it therefore any wonder why we have so much lead gooseneck piping in the first place even though they were last used about 75 years ago in most locations across America.  It’s not the city’s responsibility, he told you, even though it is part of the city’s service line and is found under the street, where homeowners can’t even get to.

  

The minutes reflect that despite this admission of quite a few bent lead pipes in the city’s water system by John Shay at the meeting before and utility expert Plamondon at the last meeting, Councilor Winczewski, a former physical science teacher and current AFFEW officer, states unchallenged that "There's no lead in any pipes that we know of in the city,  in 19 years that Darrell has been down in those holes, he has not noticed any lead pipes down there.”

  

Frankly that’s not what he said, he said there are "quite a few" two foot long section of lead pipes in the water system and they are out of the citizens’ reach to do anything about.  A two foot long section of lead pipe has more surface area containing lead ions than hundreds of feet of copper pipe connected with lead solder. 

What our city needs are guidelines to correct the problems.  Make it mandatory for utility workers to replace lead goosenecks whenever they are encountered, supply a map to the citizens of areas in Ludington where the water main is over 70 years old, and inform them of the possible harm rather than deny it exists. 

 

This is a start.  Having a supposedly environmentally-friendly councilor erroneously say that the city has addressed the issues and can put concerns aside is just disturbing on too many levels. 

I reviewed the last ten year’s results of water testing in Mason County’s kids by the health department.  The results are startling:  Freesoil, Fountain, Custer, Branch and Pentwater zip codes have had zero cases of elevated blood lead levels in the many hundreds of kids tested.  About 1 in 8 kids tested in Ludington during that time tested high, Scottville (also served by Ludington’s water utility) have disturbingly high rates also. 

Ask yourself with an open mind, what is different about these locations in terms of getting lead into a preschool kids system at dangerous levels.  Can you honestly say it couldn’t be the water, because that seems to be the only conclusion I can reach.  [My time was up, and all I had left was a summary sentence.]

My second comment was made after Chief Jerry Funk of the LFD gave his report.  I sensed even then that the city's strategy of dealing with me this evening would be to disregard me, as he showed more restraint than usual in reacting to my wearing of the LFD shirt I earned by working on the department for eight years before coming to the conclusion that the city government was not a group I wanted to be part of anymore due to its corruption then and since. 

This hasn't precluded me from running for city councilor in losing efforts twice in order to restore the city back to health.   What I spoke of in the 'open' public comment session was only the most recent part of that sickness within the public body.  Find out all of the details here at Shoplift with a Cop, and wonder why the police chief of Ludington, Mark Barnett, has yet tried to either explain what happened to the missing money or arrest the corrupt public officer that stole from the collection plate.

XLFD (53:00 in):  At the end of the last meeting mayor pro-tem Castonia allowed a five minute tirade by the police chief which had nothing to do with civil public discourse, rather it was the third time he has launched a string of mischaracterizations and untruths about an individual who regularly comes to the meeting and offers his views and research on items of public policy and the acts of those who implement it.

This citizen had pointed out discrepancies in the way the city handled the Shop with a Cop donations and how it should have been done. He had did an audit of the program after requesting the records via FOIA, and found that the numbers also didn't add up.


Chief Barnett decided not to show that the city had done its accounting properly and accurately, instead he improperly and inaccurately talked not of public policy, but of personality.


This afternoon I published on my website, The Ludington Torch, an investigative report of the use and abuse of the Shop with a Cop donations by this city's staff. In that article, I display all the relevant records in what I believe is an irrefutable case of breaching the public trust by city staff. A person of highest position did what could be one of the lowest acts of humanity: Stealing Christmas money from needy kids.

Should we be surprised that the same people who have so little regard for our kids' health that they can't own up to the Ludington water crisis we currently have would do such a venal act? I'm not. Please read the article, look over the facts of the matter and discipline the thief this time, not the messenger."

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Better tell the Mayor what the real date is, not January either, such finesse and brains...lol. Then you excuse 3 out of 7 city council members for non-attendance? All 3 too drunk to attend? How is Spencer Riggs comments public if he's talking about planning/zoning from the county? And Cartier Park needs another new bathroom? The one there was just built about 10-15 years ago, and is plenty big and modern too. And X, be careful, you just accused one of LPD's offcrs. of stealing money on the charity. I'll just bet he has something in store for you the next mtg., if not beforehand. Good luck now.

I'm speechless!

Excellent reporting X. I agree with Aquaman when he says to be careful. You never know what this bunch of politicians and officials will do or how they will react when the truth is revealed.

That's darn good advice, particularly when this whole group of officials seem okay with every little or big scandal that comes up.  If something ever happens to me, whether I disappear, die or get arrested, please do not believe what the authorities say occurred.  

Come to think about it, that's good advice for others too; I could create a list that's too long of people that were treated poorly by our local authorities and the official line was false. 

Raising bail money will be pretty easy with all the friends you have that are on the side of truth, honesty and transparency.  It is a very sad day indeed when citizens fear speaking up and asking questions. 

And if I do ever need to get bailed out, I will gladly repay your investment with a fair portion of the winnings of the federal lawsuit for false imprisonment.  I'm more worried of the other two instances; bail money won't help there, but prudent investigation by friendly sources just might.

Yup, and at this mtg. they also said they were having another special mtg. on March 6th, that's TONIGHT NOW! Hope you are prepared for the worst X. What's on the agenda? Just checked the agenda, won't load to pics.. Under part D) says they are going to adopt the ordinance for Spence Riggs on the variance for building new homes on lots of less than 60' too. Anyone going to ask about his conflict of interest?

Thanks Aquaman, I've got it covered for tonight.  Us Superfriends (a registered DC trademark) always gotta look out after each other.  Hope I see others, but it is a rather intimidating house.

I certainly hope those who are local show up to voice their concerns as well and/or go as a show of support for you XLFD.  No one needs or wants to face a crowd of people who are so dismissive and rude.  I'll be there in spirit.

About the only other people other than city and county officials and media that show up to these meetings in winter are me and Tom Tyron unless there is something real controversial going down.  Tonight they did several somewhat controversial things considering changing the trash removal service away from the popular 'spring cleaning' model, devoting resources towards moving the LFD to an edge of the city surrounded by a school zone, and considered the 'small lot' zoning ordinance which Spence Riggs championed at the last meeting. 

These are things which the citizens would likely be divided on (and likely hold positions other than what was passed by the council), but there seems to be a lot of apathy among the citizens due to the city council's continued deafness to the will of the people on several topics. 

Whatever, I gave them heck tonight over a few things.

Hope the meeting went well and looking forward to hearing the outcome.

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