When you look back on Ludington politics there has been quite a few instances of officials having conflicts of interest that they never disclosed at a public meeting.  Among these were: Nick Tykoski and his business, Kathy Maclean and her building, Amanda St. Hilaire and her business, Chris VanWyck and his business, Jason Adam and his building, Steve Miller and his employer, Les Johnson and his business, Spence Riggs and his property, and Heather Venzke Tykoski and her husband's business (plus her own!).  

I've never really developed Heather's own business scandal until now.  Her business Michigan Threadworks LLC is registered with the state licensing board, LARA.  It's a small crafts business she runs out of her home and in the June 27, 2016 minutes we find that the City partnered with three different businesses-- all ran by the Tykoski family.  Councilor Tykoski did abstain from the vote claiming an unexplained 'indirect' pecuniary interest when he had two direct interests by his own two companies.  

Had he did it properly, he would have abstained from voting while declaring his ownership of Safety Decals and Tye's and disclose the ownership of Michigan Threadworks LLC by his wife.  This would have been properly put into the minutes.  This four party deal already went through discussions in the corrupt Ludington DDA, with Heather Tykoski, DDA secretary and Community Development Director, not disclosing her company or her husband's two companies would profit from the Love Ludington grant received from the Love Ludington Committee (which may have had Heather as a member).  

At the few-issue meeting of the Ludington City Council held on October 26, 2020, just five days before Halloween, I decided to remind the council of a couple scary topics on my first public comment:  the lack of proper process in doing the council's business, and two unresolved issues of corruption that will continue to be brought up since they were ignored once again. 

Councilor Angela Serna was absent, so the meeting wasn't so long.  In this forum, I have supplied corroborative links:

XLFD:  "Section 3.1 of the city charter concerning the city council powers says they "shall have the power and authority to adopt such laws, ordinances and resolutions as it shall deem proper".  Other sections describe when ordinances need to be made, no other section in the charter or the code allows the city council to act on behalf of the City of Ludington through a simple 'motion'.  

Read through the minutes of any typical county board meeting, it usually is one resolution after another, no motion decisions except for administrative tasks like amending the agenda, electing officers and setting meeting dates.  Older city council meeting minutes show a similar trait, with ordinances thrown in.

The city council has regularly enacted ordinances for contracts of three years or more, yet on a simple motion they agreed to a 25 year contract with the State to run Harbor View Marina one year ago.  Two meetings ago, they approved a grant contract with the MEDC by motion, rather than by the resolution they needed.  Tonight, the council will consider approving four action items from the Finance Committee, none of those four will be done by resolution, just by motion.  All should have resolutions.

This is a minor part of the systemic rot that I pointed out two meetings ago through Mr. Foster's voice.  We had a city official telling local TV stations:  "The water comes straight from our water plant and we have a discharge permit."  That was a lie, she was well aware as a member of the Splash Pad Committee as well, that they had no such permit to dump chlorinated water in the pristine PM Lake-- she put that on a grant application after all.

Likewise she overlooked city protocols for city officer Jason Adam whose rental rehab application was deficient on several levels, including Adam's use of only one contractor who was a close friend of his operating under a state-unrecognized LLC.  The corruption becomes completely systemic when nobody from city government takes issue with this dishonesty and fraud committed by their peers.  We can surely do better than this.[END]"  

Public comments during Covid-19 is particularly annoying having to talk through a mask which I know does me no good (I had and recovered from Covid-19 in September, so I can neither give nor receive the virus via respiration).  

The four motions for approval of four different contracts still went on, even without a resolution.  The first, a prosecutor services yearly contract with the county, at least had resolution terms in the agreement.  The others, a change order, a property access grant, and an amendment to a Brownfield grant were passed, I would revisit the latter in my last comment.

But first, during a the councilor comment period, Councilor Kathy Winczewski brought up how she was interested in going back to Zoom meetings because of increased cases of coronavirus in the county.  Most concurred with her view, but only Councilor Dave Bourgette voiced a choice for in-person meetings, despite being the only councilor in the cheap seats (for social distancing).  He reasoned that connections are lost, and the in-person affairs are more personable.

A deep well easement for DTE was agreed on, and they dedicated the LPD's 'digital forensics lab' so that it now has reserve police digital forensic expert Stephen Marx's name on the front of that.  My last public comment (the only public comment, just like in the first session) at least gave some councilors a reason to get angry-- at me not at the person who failed to disclose their conflict.

XLFD:  "Transparency is more than just providing public records on request and properly holding public meetings.  It also means that councilors avoid appearances of impropriety and disclose any conflicts of interests they might have when deliberating and deciding issues.  Tonight, you approved an amendment to an extension of a grant timeline for a Brownfield Redevelopment grant for 302-304 S James, noting that a new developer has came into the picture with bigger plans and will have more funds available to them by grant to rehab the site.

Pages 27-29 of your packet has three records that give no indication of this new developer, one has to look in the city assessor site to determine that there was a September sale of 302 S James to a PJP Holdings LLC, with an address of 612 N Lakeshore Dr, likewise looking through LARA's list of Michigan business entities, the agent of PJP is a Kelly Parker. 

Kelly Parker is the daughter of Councilor Joe Lenius, Joe has not made that disclosure.  Joe voted to extend this grant, and likely deliberated and voted for recommending this grant extension while in the Finance Committee immediately before this meeting without disclosure of that fact at either meeting.

One could say this violates section 2-72(a) of the city code and even MCL 15.342(7) of state law regarding standards of conduct for public officers.  If not illegal, it is at least unethical to fail to report that an impropriety is present, disclose that fact publicly, refrain from discussions and voting on the issue and follow the procedures required by law to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.  More systemic rot [END]."

Once I sat down, it wasn't long before Councilor Johnson rose to Lenius' defense noting that this had been disclosed and  discussed during the committee meeting (which the City has declared does not need to follow the OMA). claiming there was no issue since Lenius was not in the LLC (wrong, the father-daughter association needs to be disclosed) and Parker was not getting any money at this point (again wrong, the extension was contingent with an increase in grant funding of more than a de minimis nature). 

Lenius claimed he would not be on the council when it once again came before the council at the next meeting, since he was not being reelected, and the next stage which had concrete figures, would not come before council until next year.  Other councilors voiced their chorus of nothing bad happening, including the other retiring Councilor Brandy Miller.  Ms. Miller effectively is Ms. Parker's immediate boss at the Ludington Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau and should have mentioned her own issue regarding a conflict of interest, but didn't.  

The time for disclosure to the public of a conflict of interest is at the first public meeting it comes up, the actual conflict should be stated explicitly and added to the record explicitly in the minutes.  Procedures and disclosures were not followed that allow actions to go through when conflicts of interests exist or appear to exist if they are looking to get the public's confidence.  These unapologetic, crooked councilors are planning on going back to Zoom meetings in order to more easily pull their unethical and unlawful acts that's all part of the systemic rot that continues unabated.  

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That's quite a summary of ethical questions, XLFD. If your speeches keep getting ignored, maybe it's time to do something that cant be ignored?

It seems that most of the City Council and the DDA participants are on the board to profit their own business. There are only a couple councilors that don't have apparent business interests. This would explain why so much money, grants, activities and effort is put into downtown projects while the rest of the residents pay taxes to drive on crappy streets and drink through lead gooseneck pipes.

I usually do take things up a level when the problem(s) is ignored for the third time, if not sooner.  The DDA has never self-policed itself, and they never will with Heather being the secretary of the DDA, never noting obvious conflicts, which is required and saves the DDA the embarrassment of me bringing it up later if it's found from other sources.  A terrible minutes-writer indicates that she would be a terrible grant-writer, her normal job.  Under objective analysis, she is.  But somehow, she keeps her job.

I will not forget that a resident who attends almost every Council meeting, writes this blog, doesn't secretly promote his own personal businesses, has amazing analytical, mathematic and budgetary abilities, is most fit to be a City Councilor for the good interest of the City, but when he ran for Third Ward councilor, had his political signs solely targeted for removal by the city, was shut out of city hall by a "no tresspass" order, and one city official tried to get a PPO on him without ever been near him. He was systematically and continually being publicly denounced by mayor, city manager (past), councilors, chiefs of police and fire for speaking up about these unethical and illegal activities down at city hall. It has definitely been a gang of thugs in city hall, some who don't have the temperament to deal with the public and many who don't deserve to be public officials and who now want to not interact again with the public behind the safety of Zoom. Keep up the courage to fight for what is right, XLFD!

Thanks for the political support from past elections, full disclosure:  I'm not running for anything in this political cycle.  Minor correction is that I was running for councilor-at-large one the election noted (2011), I would later run for Third in 2016 w/o much success, running against a couple of flawed incumbents fully endorsed by the status quo crowd who didn't like my message of taking down corruption.  Thanks again for the regular support too, many still write me off as somebody who tilts at windmills or worse from all of the bad press I have received over the years. 

Amazing.  It never ends. This council is either more crooked than a corkscrew, dumber than a pile of rocks or they are just flipping the bird at the people who elected them. Are all of those issues you raised not legal if the process is not followed. If that is the case why are taxpayers providing a salary to the attorney who advises the City and Council. Maybe he's dumb as a rock or is shaped like a corkscrew. Shouldn't the attorney make sure all of the Council's work is legal and done according to the law? It is just amazing how this is a never ending story. Thanks for all you do X.

Many of the above unethical and unlawful acts are just an early public disclosure away from being a legitimate act.  Councilor Lenius should have noted that he couldn't vote due to his daughter benefitting from the vote, which vote gives her an opportunity to earn much over $100.  Councilor Miller should have made her own disclosure as the beneficiary's boss and to be safe abstain from the vote.  There would still be 4 votes, enough to pass the measure, even if one councilor voted against it.  These disclosures should then have been entered into the record.  

The law understands that officials and their families should not get an advantage because of their position, but understands too that neither should they be penalized for their position if their business wants to enter into an agreement with the public body or submit a competitive bid in a fair process.  If those processes are not followed, the public quickly loses confidence in the official and in the public body for allowing such improper conduct.


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