This reporter came prepared for the June 12 meeting of the Scottville City Commission (Clowncil), a meeting where two public hearing were scheduled-- and they weren't that well thought out. This seemed to be a theme that permeated the agenda packet and the meeting itself, showing that the once proud city commission of a decade ago has devolved into a clowncil.
Clowncilor Darcy Copenhaver arrived late to complete the five member public body that would soon grow to six by the selection of Randy Wyman as a new councilor as the first order of business. Wyman would be the only one to apply for the position, making it an effective fait accompli. Wyman is a frequent buyer of ads, has their company featured on many obituaries even when they are not involved, and receives favorable stories for his business on Clowncilor Rob Alway's medium, but Alway made no mention of the potential conflict of interest.
Not surprisingly, the City of Scottville spent over $100 to advertise the position in Alway's medium, without Alway disclosing his conflict there either. Alway has been making a bundle with six vacancies created in the commission since the November election. Before Jimmy Newkirk became city manager, the City spent money to advertise in the city's newspaper of record, the Ludington Daily News, only. Additionally, they would put it up on local social media and their official webpage. These background payments making Clowncilor Rob Alway a richer man without having any legitimate municipal purpose, makes this a continuing scandal that city leaders ignore.
In the first public comment, Belinda Jabrocki of Waste Reduction Systems LLC asked the commission to consider her local company when considering the contract they were thinking of extending for Republic. By the time this business came up, it was discussed and Alway would suggest they advertise for the position with a request for proposals from interested companies. Republic apparently doesn't advertise on the MCP, but don't be surprised if WRS LLC begins to.
I followed, commenting on the boat parking fees set to be passed by resolution, where the confusing signs have already been placed (see Riverside parking scam for more info):
XLFD: "Scottville, the City with leadership so unscrupulous and greedy that it buys and puts up signs for parking fees by dint of a resolution when they haven't even passed a resolution for establishing parking fees. The signs have been up for a couple of weeks and now a resolution is before this clowncil, and sadly, they need more than a resolution to establish parking fees. The hapless Grand Rapids city attorney drafted this resolution, starting out by saying that the Scottville charter incorporates the Uniform Traffic Code by reference, but it does no such thing. The city CODE incorporates the UTC. Next line says the charter imposes restrictions and enforcement regarding the boat ramp parking lot. Again, that's the city CODE.
The offered resolution makes a few other mistakes along the way to its conclusion, but one thing it clearly establishes is that the City intends to collect $5 in fees for parking and will establish fines as a civil infraction and potential towing as penalties for those who do not pay the fee. Section 7.11 of the city charter does say that "all acts carrying a penalty for the violation thereof, shall be by ordinance".
Not by resolution. If you wish to extort more money from the people do it legitimately by ordinance, and next time, wait until after passage to buy and erect signs that may not be needed or may need to be revised [END comment]
When this would come up, the attorney did admit the charter-code mix-up as a mistake, but he advised that the clowncil could pass the resolution with those corrections made. His is under the mistaken impression that section 72.22 of the code allows a resolution to do this, but that section only allows for setting the cost of fees, not for the imposition of fees or fines in the first place. What the City of Scottville is doing requires an ordinance secondarily, because this 'resolution' offered is an attempt to amend section 70.24 which as you can see was Ordinance 03-02:
One cannot amend an established ordinance through a resolution. Basic municipal law, but so is the dictum that anything passed that creates a civil infraction for its violation or a fine has to be by ordinance. Anybody can park in the boat parking lot just as they used to, and if it isn't parked in a space specially marked as a tow-away zone, you won't get it towed legally.
After the city vacated their rights to the alley to the east of the proposed development at the old car dealership on the northeast corner of Main and E Second Street, they shortly thereafter went to a public hearing to pass a Brownfield Redevelopment Act (BRA) Plan. Roy Holden started by asking some questions about the development; Dollar General had bought the 209 S Main Street property Holden used to own with plans of spending $2 million to develop the site into a bigger store and vacate the old one across Main Street. Holden would take issue with me for the rest of the meeting after I said my piece, once again disciplining the City and its legal minds in getting this through:
XLFD: "The City's first attempt at running a Brownfield Authority on it's own just continues to show why current leadership and legal counsel is deeply inadequate when it comes to their tasks. Fishbeck's Susan Wenzlick indicates that the City has complied with the Brownfield Rehabilitation Authority Act as has the resolution in your packets. But it hasn't met those requirements.
Brownfield Specialist Wenzlick says you have published a notice of this Brownfield hearing in the local paper and at your website prior to today, as well as sending notices to taxing authorities affected. Notice is not on your website, notice is nowhere to be found in the Ludington Daily News, and the only place where I could find it is on Commissioner Rob Alway's website on June 5th, so apparently our favorite unlawful intruder into office has turned this project into a money-making opportunity for his corrupt self.
I'm sure that most people here don't understand tax increment financing and believes the other fiction pushed my Ms. Wenzlick that indicates the City and other taxing authorities will lose no revenue if they approve the TIF plan, which according to Wenzlick stands to gain about $31,000 per year for 22 years or nearly $700,000. That money doesn't materialize out of thin air, it's speculative growth that is taken from all of the taxing authorities over those 22 years, especially the City of Scottville. This scheme leaves shortfalls for all and is based on speculative growth that may never happen, and if you start throwing out these TIFs with impunity over the next few years, don't be surprised that you will be very deep in the red within ten years [END comment]
Banks and developers do real good with these, the City speculates with your money, siphoning money away from all other taxing authorities to do so. So when Susan Wenzlick or some other charlatan says nobody's taxes will be raised, roll your eyes. There are plenty of good materials that describe the problems with TIFs here's one. It should be noted that the City of Scottville was under no compulsion to put notice in the newspaper or the city's website as claimed, only to contact other jurisdictions whose money they would take. This is being checked on.
Immediately thereafter, a truth in taxation hearing was conducted in order to get over $31,000 from the Scottville taxpayers that the City would otherwise not be entitled to. The process is regularly adopted by the City of Ludington, so I am well familiar with the rules. This was Scottville's first attempt and once again, they failed. Linda Holden asked respectfully during the public hearing about where the money comes from, and the answer danced around the easy one: it comes from property-owning taxpayers of Scottville. I made that clear in my comment:
XLFD: "Crooked Commissioner Rob Alway once again extorted money from city coffers to publish an unlawful notice for this public hearing on his website. I could once again, not find any kind of public notice in the Ludington Daily News for this truth in taxation hearing, and state law explicitly states that the notice needs to appear in the City's newspaper of record and cannot be smaller than 8 column inches in height and 4 inches in width.
Even if one considers the Mason County Press a print newspaper and not a city hall propaganda mill where opportunistic Clowncilor Alway unethically filters public money away from legal public expenses for his own venal private interest, his notice does not fulfill the requirements for lack of length. But it's not a print newspaper, and it's not the newspaper of record for the City of Scottville, so this hearing has not been properly noticed and needs to be shut down now on that basis alone, so that your inept leaders can do it right.
If you choose to go through with this hearing as if it is legit, there are other formalities you have screwed up or failed to perform, and you will be held to task for it. You pay enough for a good lawyer, but you get one that doesn't seem to know anything about municipal law.
Lastly, and most importantly, why does this greedy city believe it has the moral authority to collect over $30,000 more per year in taxes when that money will come directly from citizens who need every penny to afford your monstrous utility fees and county-leading millage rates? Justify your greed, please. [END comment]
Guess what, after Roy Holden questioned my integrity for standing up to people trying to take more from citizens without any reasons (I must disclose there is no gain or loss for me if this passes or not, but every Scottville citizen is over $25 poorer on average when these jackasses passed it unanimously without one care as to its effect on the people in these hyperinflationary times).
Fortunately, this will not stand as their public notice was inadequate and they failed to set the adjusted millage rate before the public hearing was held by at least a resolution. I did catch their notice on June 3rd in the LDN after expanding my search and finding it in the classified ads:
The notice fails the length requirement of 8 column inches and is placed in the classified ad section of the paper (a legal no-no). Which is probably why I never saw it when I scanned this paper the first time. And these guys never did this, as a recording of the meeting shows:
A resolution would have worked here! All that these guys would pass was a resolution to accept the amount of the millage described in the notice (you likely never saw) and the packet, all after the public hearing.
Was that it? Nope, there was still a regular public comment period just after this and I allowed my voice to regain its strength while Art Wallagher told the City of a bad experience he had, where he had his lawn mowed by City contractors. He claimed he had never been given any notice, and described that the mowers worked on both sides of his property, mowing parts of his neighbors parcels and thus will probably be charged for that too. This is not an isolated issue, we have heard two others describe similar things. Then it was my turn, I decided to do some browbeating, but I prefaced it with a small homage to Honest Abe:
XLFD: "Four hours and six days ago, Eric Thue brought forth, on this county, a new hope, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that the city charter shall matter again. Mr. Thue's last day as a commissioner was on November 14th, 2022 when his term ended and nobody was elected to succeed him. The vacancy was not created by any act of this commission, and no act of the commission needed to be performed that November, when the corrupt half of our city decided to play their corrupt games and deny quorums so that they could not perform the people's business.
The commission failed to appoint a successor at their December 12th meeting, it would be the last chance they would have to lawfully appoint a successor for Eric Thue's seat. Rather than schedule a special election to fill the vacancy and the other vacancy created when Clowncilor Alway resigned on November 10th and reconsidered two days after the seat had lawfully became vacant, she accepted appointment by 'the corrupted' on December 27 in repugnance to the clearly stated dicta in the city charter. The corrupted elements of this council then installed her as mayor even when she was not a lawful clowncilor.
Scottville has a city manager who appears to have helped the November surprise and his lack of municipal experience, temperance, and morals will erode the people's faith in leadership. The city attorney appears to be paid for his ineptness, giving the city bills for $7000 while not being able to distinguish a charter from a code. No wonder he doesn't share his legal opinions with the public. Your mayor is illegitimate, as noted, and walks hand-in-hand with embezzling Clowncilor Alway who unethically pads his salary by making his employee, City Manager Newkirk, send money his way whenever the opportunity arises. The rest of you who participate in unethical conduct or allow such unethical conduct to go on are no better [END comment]."
In summary, as the City of Scottville tried to raise taxes on its citizens, tried to raise 'taxes' on taxing authorities (indirectly through county citizens) through a Brownfield TIF Plan to support a developer, tried to pass a resolution when an ordinance was obviously required to impose fees/fines for parking at the City's most important park, and tried to prop up a mayor who is seeing recall in her future and a commissioner who fails to realize obvious conflicts of interest while the city attorney sleeps, the Ludington Torch was able to impress on them, through four comments, how they were corrupt Rubes who had no business taking more and more money from the people. This was their day of affirmation, affirmation that they had no business serving the public when they can't follow the basic laws and rules of morality, their four-peat of failure.
I bet Scottville officials cringe every time you stand up to speak but it doesn't seem to phase them since they continue to practice the same bad form of governance. These people make no sense. They either don't know what they are doing or are intentionally trying to stick it to Scottville's citizens. Without you keeping track of these politicians who knows how deep Scottville would be sinking in the muck they have created. Well done X, very thoroughly documented while keeping the public informed.
If I were to describe their collective behavior, I would say they don't so much as cringe, rather they all seem to find something interesting on the table in front of them when I talk. For the extent of my first comment, I saw one face from the city officials looking my way. I seen two or three faces during the other three comments, along with occasional glances up from Clowncilor Alway when I pointed out his corruption. I attribute this more to citizen Eric Thue's action of recording the meeting at those points; he missed the first half of the meeting but expects to continue recording these meetings.