The agenda packet for the March 14, 2022 Ludington City Council meeting was deceptive when compared to what was to actually happen at the meeting.  The finance committee offered and approved some non-controversial budget amendments and negotiation with the SEIU union (members will reportedly receive a $1.25/hour raise).  The Buildings & License Committee offered the first readings of three ordinances dealing with changes to zoning codes:  allowing accessory commercial units, rezoning 1228 S. Madison to allow for such units, and eliminating the term 'story' to define building heights and measuring them solely by feet above the ground. 

The composting agreement was revisited with Morgan Composting as the council erred in passing the 5-year agreement at the last meeting.  Council protocols dictate that any contract of three years or greater length must be adopted through an ordinance, but it was done by a simple motion vote at the last meeting; it was officially given its first reading at this meeting.  The local paper determined that the main output of this meeting was the approval of 'learning stations' around the Cartier Park walkway.  These signs will offer those walking the path to learn about nature, it was noted that prior efforts in this realm had been met with vandalism, and they approved extra outlays (from private sources) to defray that potential.  As before, it is likely that the City will direct them to use Safety Decals for their signage, as you will note Community Development Director Heather Tykoski's family owned business is still getting a good share of money from the City without ever having to disclose their monopoly (as seen on page 12 of the agenda):

Rather than continuing to mention the improprieties of this for the umpteenth time, I went to the even more costly composting contract in my first comment to the council, and add how they have botched the competitive bidding process in the past.  I followed Ron Soberalski, a PM Township trustee, who advocated for the council to once again bring up the topic of marijuana businesses in the city, as Scottville appears to be going forth with.  Soberalski would speak again in the final comment period advocating for the 1228 Madison Street rezoning approval and approving City Manager Mitch Foster's idea (and his sole action item) to have councilors attend other local meetings of public bodies (as he was doing). 

XLFD:  (4:25 in) "I am trying to understand the necessity of the 5 year composting contract the council is to consider tonight.  Like the sidewalk installation contract from two regular meetings ago and others over the last year, the competitive bidding process has been ignored by DPW Joe Stickney, City Manager Mitch Foster and ultimately this council.  Unless the city can produce some rationale as to why skipping the bidding process works out better for the city, it is patently against the city charter, that is, it is illegal, to forego the process.  When no rationale is given, citizens have to presume that once again the city is corruptly engaging in cronyism and that our elected officials are not concerned one whit with saving the taxpayers money or getting them quality products, just in greasing the palms of their favorite corporations-- and individuals.

Our own State Senator Curt VanderWall owns a company called Turf Care, he got his contract with the City after submitting a bid that was much higher than another qualified bid, but this council stuck with his company despite their oaths to a state constitution which says in Article 4 section 10 that "No member of the legislature shall be interested directly or indirectly in any contract with any political subdivision thereof which shall cause a substantial conflict of interest."  Considering all factors, this was a substantial conflict of interest.

This council's municipal bribe to Corrupt Curt has resulted in payments to VanderWall's company totaling $6320 in this month alone, thousands more were illicitly sent to him in February for his services.  The contract with Corrupt Curt's business states quite clearly that they bill for services performed in the following billing cycle.  I ask this council:  what sort of fertilizing and weed control is he doing in February for the City?  Since your mouths will not answer that question, I'll answer for you:  he has done nothing, he is pre-charging you for what he expects to do this summer.  You allow him to break the contract terms, making you as corrupt as him.

Mayhaps you can explain to the taxpayers what favors you are buying from this ethics-compromised state senator, and whether it's worth the loss of trust, money, and other resources of our overburdened taxpayers without such illicit connections.  But back to the compost contract terms, why will we spend upwards of $70,000 this year just to get our leaf compost pile shipped across the state?  Why does the contract not allow for us to retain any of the soil created by our composted leaves?  Is there not a better and more cost-effective way to do this?" [END comment]

The relevant questions asked in the last paragraph would largely go ignored by the council, except that Councilor Jack Bulger related that he was on the understanding that the City would be getting composted soil back from Morgan's Composting under terms of the contract, but see if your eyes are any better than mine by reading the contract starting on p. 34 of the agenda packet.  There is no paragraph in that agreement that allows for the City of Ludington to recoup any soil.  We will pay $70,000 plus all the city's collection costs for leaf pickup next year, and lose out on any recycled soil.

I maintain nearly four city lots in Ludington, rather than go through the labor-intensive process of raking leaves into the street and depending on the DPW to take them away at an ever-increasing cost, I have found that running the lawnmower over leaves and effectively mulching the minute leaf fragments in the yard makes the lawn look better in the spring.  Bob Vila agrees, there is really no downside to mulching leaves in your own yard, and it keeps our mulch in Ludington lawns, not mulch pits halfway across the state.  Why can't we even discuss options, councilors?

But the deceptive quietude of the first part of the meeting broke when Mayor Steve Miller got on a soapbox and read a statement in favor of Ukraine, one that he read over the last weekend at a local rally for Ukkraine.  The first part of his speech was innocuous enough in its support for the people of that country recently invaded by neighboring Russia, but it ended on a disturbing note, and seemed to indicate that he spoke for everyone in Ludington, as transcribed with snarky notes courtesy of the transcriber:

Mayor Miller: (44:10 into video) "... in this country we are privileged to rise each day without the very real threat of death and destruction at the hand and desires of any foreign entity.  [Tell that to all the angel families in America, a number growing more and more each day thanks to Biden's open door policy and lack of leadership on the southern border].

The democratically elected government and families of Ukraine are no longer afforded that same security. It is incumbent here in Ludington Michigan, as it is for every free citizen of the world [note that Miller uses 'citizen of the world' rather than 'citizen in the world' implying and betraying his leftist globalism so useful in leading a small midwest city] to stand up and speak out against such blatant, unrestrained and violent hostilities.

The wise words of Lord Krishna [yes, he's quoting an avatar of Vishnu from Hindu mythology] resounds loudly for the free people of the world and the fighting people of Ukraine. "If you don't fight for what you want, you cry for what you have lost." [ yes, he's misquoting an avatar of Vishnu, it concludes "Don't cry for what you lost."]

The proud people of Ukraine have understood and lived this idiom for centuries [Hinduism accounts for less than 0.1% of Ukraine's population].  Today, on behalf of the citizens of Ludington I call upon the pride, the strength, and the full capacity of the American government to lead the charge of assisting Ukraine in exposing the merciless crimes of war perpetrated upon the defenders of freedom, removing the invaders from Ukrainian soil, and assist in rebuilding their country [Isn't he saying that nearly 8000 Ludingtonians support going into kinetic war with Russia at this time, as he is in his statement?  I don't speak for Ludington like he thinks he can, but I know that's not true.]

Our support for freedom and democracy in Ukraine is support for free people everywhere. In whatever capacity you can, please support the people of Ukraine with your voices, donations, and actions. let the world know: the citizens of Ludington Michigan stand with the citizens of Ukraine in their fight for freedom and democratic survival [Funny, I don't recall His Honor speaking one word on behalf of Canadian truckers fighting for medical freedom and having that freedom quashed by an undemocratic Canadian government]. Thank you, Slava Ukraini."

Mayor Miller must have found himself stirred to demagoguery by the war porn on CNN and MSNBC, perhaps if he spent more time worrying about the city's interests, he would have better results around his own neighborhood.  If Mayor Miller wants to speak on behalf of the city, he better look for the approval beforehand of the city council, if he wants to speak on behalf of the citizens of Ludington, he should realize we are not monolithic and silence himself.

You may notice that the second item 11 on the agenda was for a closed session, this was to once again consider a written legal opinion of the city attorney on the curfew siren and Nathaniel Rose's issue with it.  Once again, no city official invoked the attorney-client privilege for the opinion, once again they 'considered' the opinion for an hour or so in closed session.  Once again, they went above the process of considering the opinion.  Both citizens and the Rose family should be disgusted with this way of formulating public policy.  

If they're not disgusted with that, they should be disgusted with the City's response this time.  At the last meeting, they decided to not let the city attorney negotiate the issue with the Rose's attorney; this time they did a 180 and decided that they would approve the city attorney entering into negotiations with the Rose's attorney; no rationale was given for their decision either time in open session following the closed meetings.  Without any lawsuit being filed, there has been a lot of city attorney time used without showing any rationale to the public of why it is being used.

In my secondary public comment, I continued the Austin Billings issue, while bringing in the Austin Morris issue, noting that both city employees named Austin lied on applications, and city leaders are okay with it.

XLFD:  (56:30 in) "My ward's councilor 'bravely' offered a defense of Firefighter Austin Billings at the end of last meeting, beyond the point of time that it could be refuted.  He mentioned that Billings deserved a second chance and that there was a program to help felons become productive members of society.  Councilor Johnson properly noted that Billings was not a part of the rehabilitative program but not that Billings has already been given seven second chances in his felonious career.  Had my councilor seen Firefighter Billings' application which boasted only of three felonies in his past, rather than the majority of felony convictions actually in his past as can be seen in court records or as recently listed by the Mason County Press, maybe he would get the point that lying on one's employment application for the nation's most trusted profession is the squandering of yet another chance for Billings to show he is a reformed man.

His lack of candor permeated over to the police department where School Resource Officer Austin Morris appears to have perjured himself on a warrant application.  Officer Morris created a phone conversation that he was not part of, but that both participants deny happened the way he characterized it.  His falsified assertion, accompanied by his misuse of the Law Enforcement Information Network to achieve his goal, shows that lying on applications is the new normal for our corrupted city officials.  Councilors should not defend the indefensible conduct of untrustworthy city employees, rather they should honestly investigate those employees who fail to live up to our reasonable expectations and replace them when called for."

City Manager Foster, however, did decide to stand up for Austin Billings after my comment:   

Foster (59:10 in):  "This is out of turn, but I have to.  Just to clarify really quick, Mr. Billings has not lied.  Not once did he lie.  When he applied for the position in the fire department, on our application there is not enough space for the amount of felonies that he had.  He was outright honest with Fire Chief Henderson, with me, and with a number of firefighters who actually recruited him to apply for the position.  Upon his background check, all of those items came up in his background.  Mr. Billings was recommended by a number of his fellow firefighters to apply for the position.  He has earned the rest of the department's respect and I appreciate council's understanding and willingness after you were all notified of this firefighter's hiring as well, however, I did feel a need to correct the statement."

Foster blames their own on-line application for 'not having enough space for the amount of felonies' Billings had.  Billings lists three, he could have listed two, and said 'plus six more', if the on-line application space was insufficient.  The application couldn't be clearer:  "I certify that answers given herein are true and complete to the best of my knowledge."  It wasn't, because Billings lied.

One also wonders that if he was endorsed by other firefighters, why isn't any of the references on his application associated with the LFD.  Foster makes the claim that "not once did (Billings) lie.", exactly how many times more than once did he lie, sir?

Nobody from the city decided to address the embellishments and lies that the other Austin put on his warrant application.  Those lies led to an unlawful search and felony arraignments of a man arrested fourteen years ago for marijuana possession, when pot was illegal in all forms, for now possessing guns-- even though the guns apparently belong to his son who lives with him.  There is nothing connecting the guns found in the illegal search of his home to that person.  One doesn't lose their right to possess their own guns just because their father lives under the same roof and no longer has the right.  Why don't you stick up for this man who was wronged by your own police department breaking the law Mr. Foster?  Here are some words to consider:

"In whatever capacity you can, please support the people of Ludington with your voice, donation, and action, let the world know: the City of Ludington Michigan stands with the citizens of Ludington in their fight for freedom and democratic survival."

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After the second public comment Mitch Foster tried to make points about correcting the status of Austin Billings status of lieing on his application by stating "there wasn't enough room on the app. for him to list all his felonies, so that is why he didn't list them all". Well, can anyone imagine someone using this as a defense? Or that any city mgr. would adopt this measure as the right thing to do? And what does this clearly now show about how our city mgr. looks at life? I just can't believe he thinks like this or would ever say it, loud and clear, and on the record, shameful.

Mitch Foster displayed a Clintonian choice of words in his defenses of Austin Billings.  Consider, he says Billings did not lie, and one could twist things to say Billings did not commit a lie-- he lied by omission of a half dozen felony convictions.   Then he says "not once did he lie", which reminds me of Arkansas Bill when he uttered:  "I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never."   

My bet is that Foster made the mistake of giving the new fire chief John Henderson too much delegated authority (assuming that Henderson's twelve years as mayor would suggest that he had some common sense and people hiring skills).  Henderson's corruption-laced twelve years as mayor, where John Shay and Heather Venzke-Tykoski were hired, along with all his children being hired discretely at the city marina that he had much control over, shows he lacked ethics and common sense.  He hasn't lost that touch by hiring Billings and sending him out immediately with impressionable kids who think they were shopping with a hero, when instead, they are shopping with somebody most parents would not ever trust around their kids if they knew about his long criminal history.

Exactly Aquaman! I was thinking the same of Mitch Foster's poor excuse for justification of the hiring of seven-time-felon Austin Billings. Well now that Foster says so, everything is ok. Ha ha. Baloney, all that statement did was lower Mitch Foster to Billing's lack of ethics level. Liar, liar pants on fire. I like the comparison of Clintonian excuses, X. Nice try Foster, but do you think people are that dumb? I hope Foster listens to the tape and realizes how ignorant that statement is. If we could all get away with improperly filing out applications by claiming "not enough room" we could all then work for government and ethics really don't matter.

Shame also on John Henderson for being so lacksidasical in hiring procedures. Fix the application with a simple question that can be answered with a digit. How many felons do you have? 7.

Nice job Henderson. You continue to screw the city (citizens deserve better than a 7-time felon as a firefighter) and then justify your wrong doings.

Miller can rant his autocratic new world psychobabble and waste our time but it doesn't inspires me becauae of his overall record of lack of concern for and neglect of the more important matters at home with the citizens of Ludington.

What Mitch Foster should have said in his comment to the public was something to the effect, "It has come to our attention that Austin Billings did not give complete history of his felony convictions on his application. We therefore have suspended his employment. We have directed him to go through Rehabilitation procedures to seek work. Thank you XLFD for bringing this to our attention. We well be revising our employment application to more accurately reflect a person's background." John Henderson and each City Council member should thank you as well, X.  Your pointing this out obviously has the Council rightly concerned, as this is the second(?) attempt to justify the hiring (Les Johnson comment being the first).  The people of Ludington deserve better in hiring procedures and personnel and a management that knows and can rectify right from wrong.  

Mitch Foster was smart enough to realize he had to say something about Billings, as he's one of the father's responsible for hiring him, however, he chose to protect his peers rather than the people of Ludington by his choice of words, and showed that a long list of felonies doesn't prevent you from being an official working for the city, especially one in America's most trusted position.  

The 'other' Austin and his apparent perjury on a warrant application thus becomes a more difficult puzzle for the city manager to solve.  If he continues to ignore that, he will appear as if he actively promotes criminal activity by not only hiring a career felonist without any reserve, then by looking away when the local school resource officer commits a serious trust-crime himself.  The SRO who was trained using loans from local taxpayer dollars.   It's things that happen in the background like this that tend to make good relationships with city managers difficult for me, especially when city managers fail to remedy the obvious problems when they have the power to do so.

Good comments all and thanks for your post X. You're right there was more to this meeting than what was expected. On the bidding contracts it would be nice if the City leaders would actually do the right thing. They just refuse to act in the best interest of the citizens. You put forth a lot of effort in trying to persuade the Council to follow the law but it's like dealing with bunch of spoiled kids who want things their way. I to mulch my leaves with the mower and have done this for many years. My lawn is as green and thick as my neighbors who chemically treat their lawns.
I guess the mayor just couldn't help himself. Is he going to file that speech with the one he gave about our borders being invaded by illegal aliens? If you haven't heard that speech don't feel bad because nobody else has either. If he wants to comment on geo politics then he should state that it is his opinions and not those of the electorate. Below I include an excerpt from his secure the southern US border speech:

"Our support for freedom and democracy at our southern border is support for free people everywhere. In whatever capacity you can, please support the people of Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona and the US with your voices, donations, and actions. let the world know: the citizens of Ludington Michigan stand with the citizens of US in their fight for border security and democratic survival. Thank you Donald Trump"

And then there's Mr. Foster. I didn't think he was all that bad until he had a mental brain collapse regarding the falsification of Mr. Billings application and his approval by the other collapsed brain individuals who assisted Billings to get a job by lying about his criminal history. If their brains were combined a squirrel would be considered a genius compared to them.

X, I am so glad you can stay on course after dealing for so many years with these boneheads who run the City. Many thanks.

I saw this and couldn't help but think of how cool it would have been to have this guy at this city council meeting waiting in the wings to respond to Mayor Miller's "Slava Ukraini" speech.  I wonder if there would have been any on the LCC who was willing to sign up and fight for the Ukrainian Foreign Legion (besides Mayor Miller, of course):

This had to be a hoax. When he started playing his own background music and brought up the story about his wife running of with a teenager that made me laugh. Then he talks about burning cats and not eating meat followed by an invitation to train the Council to fight but only after they write down their personal information and  their SS# with of course some cash included. If nothing else he is entertaining. If you get a chance, watch the same guy in the video at the end where he addresses another City Council. Hilarious.  Also, watch the video of the clown at the end of this video. Great stuff X. Love it.


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