Scottville City Clowncil Meeting, August 2nd, 2021: Exemplary Public (Process) Service

The City of Scottville had an unlikely ally at their August 2nd commission meeting, distracting some of the negative attention away from a lawsuit that they were warned was coming.  Left Coast Apothecary LLC was granted approval late last week when they to present why their recreational marijuana business should have Scottville as a home.  Five principals of that prospective business made their case to a generally stoic commission which would go through the rest of the meeting without mentioning anything positive, neutral or negative about it.  


Was this used as a distraction to avoid the lawsuit being the lead story selected by local news agencies covering the meeting?  Or the secondary lead of them selecting a new commissioner when it appears they have not the legal authority to do so?

Five Scottville city officials received a summons and complaint at the city commission meeting held last evening at 6:30 PM at the Optimist Hall.  The nine count complaint alleged five violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and four intentional violations of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) where City Attorney Alvarado, Mayor Pro Tem Alway, Clerk Kelse Lester, Police Chief Matt Murphy and Mayor Marcy Spencer were named for one or more of those violations.

The twenty page Summons and complaint delineated a pattern of contempt of the two laws that are the hallmarks of transparency along with some other contentions that some real crimes had been committed.  When I, my large sign, and my process server approached the Optimist Hall at around 6:20 PM, a quorum of the city council was standing around outside talking among each other about something.  This likely-unlawful gathering wasn't too surprising considering the multiple ways they have ignored the OMA, but it was surprising that when they noticed us coming up, that Mayor Spencer and Commissioner Sally Cole moved away from the discussion they had been taking part in, as if they knew they had been guilty of an impropriety.

Once the city manager arrived and opened the doors, I took the above sign and sat down in the front row next to my process server, who had a folder containing 120 pages of court papers.  The sign would be pointed directly at the clowncil, until such time as the public comment period actually happened, which came at this meeting right before adjournment, in defiance of the city charter. 

At that point, I put it behind me to show the assembled masses that the commission was not even trying to obey the law.  The record shows that the commission allowed comments before and after the business of the meeting was completed, before they literally career-assassinated the prior city manager, Courtney Magaluk (apparently due to office politics, she was not allowing the wholesale embezzlement that would follow when Chief Murphy took charge). 

A closer look shows that their reticence to hear me spout ugly truths about them was what made them change their charter procedure unlawfully.  In doing so, they inadvertently assigned a lot of power to my words, and shut out their own citizens from any input into the commission's business.  Now if they change it back, follow the law, they stupidly think that it will look as if they are capitulating to my words yet once again, and that they might have to defend their stupid public policies before they make it a moot point.   

The Chilean Fee Chaser was a relatively late arrival and signaled that all five named people were present, my server went to work with scant minutes before the start to earn their big payday of six parties served (the mayor received the packet for the 'City of Scottville' too).  Most accepted their lawsuits gracefully, Clowncilor Alway made a comment about the City losing tens of thousands in defending frivolous charges he hadn't yet read about and how some people file lawsuits to live off the government.  After that mini-tantrum, he then threw the complaint many feet across the table where it remained until I fetched it for him at the end of the meeting.  

Mayor Spencer then gaveled the meeting to order, subtracting one item off the agenda which she never detailed or explained.  Only two items of business were before the commission, the second reading of a revised chicken ordinance and the potential filling of a vacancy on the clowncil.  By email, I had presented officials with reasons why they were beyond the limit to choose a successor, and that a special election was necessary (basically the rationale explained here).  

The mystery of the dropped item became clear when Attorney Alvarado explained his memorandum given to the clowncilors that said the vacancy did not occur until the first July meeting, and they were free to fill the vacancy.  This seemed to be countered by sec. 6.5 of the charter which says "All resignations [of elective officers] shall be immediately acted upon".  Benyo's resignation email was sent on June 27th, it was received by the city clerk the next business day.

According to legal dictionaries, 'resignation' is the act by which an officer renounces the further exercise of his office, Benyo's letter speaks for itself, he resigned without any parameters.  Similarly, vacancy is an interruption in the incumbency of an office, incumbency meaning that there is someone legally authorized to discharge the duties of an office.  That incumbency is lost after a formal resignation, it is not lost over a week later when the commission finally convenes.

So instead of considering a very flawed chicken ordinance, they chose a commissioner more than 30 days after the vacancy occurred, a violation of the city charter and one that will be challenged, for a special election needs to be called according to my interpretation of the law.  The actual choice in this mock election came down between three individuals:  Eric Thue, Tarra Perez, and Aaron Seiter.  

Each was present and were allowed to give a brief review of their qualifications to the clowncil.  It was fairly obvious who the clowncil would like best, Aaron the in-Seiter, who served on the Parks & Rec Committee.  Clowncilor Alway moved that Seiter would fill the vacancy, it was seconded and voice-voted unanimously.  

Perez would get up during the public comment period and mainly endorsed the prospective green business startup.  While other government accountability activists might relax after serving a major lawsuit on an agency, I also had my own comments for the evening.  I also must have annoyed some of the officials by continually looking at my sign and pointing at it as if to wonder why the public comment section wasn't happening when it should.  I placed it towards the rest of the audience as I spoke. 

Interestingly, a passing train went by during the delivery of my second paragraph and I had to wait a little bit and talk a little louder.  I still got it all in.  Rather than look at it as an inconvenience, I consider it a signal to Scottville that the Tom Train is coming into the Scottville train station.

XLFD:  "Why do city officials break state laws with impunity?  Why do they consider themselves immune from the restrictions imposed on them by the city charter?  Why do they knowingly allow their city hall staff to rob the citizens of this town and look the other way every time it's brought up in public comment?

Every single clowncilor on this commission should be ashamed of what they have turned into over this last year.  You created an investigatory committee with your mayor, police chief and city attorney as part of it, gave it authority and power to conduct government business, and then allowed them to hold private meetings without keeping minutes.  You then delayed the disclosure of a finished report from local media for over a month, later you would do the same for a simple accident report.  These public records were never exempt.

Other payroll records released showed a variety of improprieties where the highest city officials were taking money from the good citizens of Scottville, money that they weren't entitled to take under their employment agreements, city policy and the rule of law.  Rather than hear about this embezzlement and the verifiable claims against the thieving city officials involved, you clowncilors decided to silence me twice at a March Zoom meeting, then later removing me from a meeting held here for having the audacity to hold a sign with relevant parts of section 7.6 of the city charter showing commission procedure.  I've made a more complete one for tonight's meeting, I will continue bringing it to meetings until this clowncil decides to become a commission that better follows the charter once again and allows the people to speak before the business of the meeting is conducted. 

Tonight you continue ignoring the charter by appointing a replacement commissioner after 30 days of the position becoming vacant, the charter says you must hold a special meeting at this point.  You are supposed to be a law-making body not a law-breaking body.  

Five of you will find yourself served with a summons and complaint tonight concerning your role in the intentional corrupt acts you took part in.  Feel free to laugh it off just as you have laughed off the responsibilities inherent in your respective positions and your oath to the state and federal Constitution." [END]

Since I had forewarned Scottville leaders that they would be receiving a lawsuit this meeting, I expected one or more to have some sort of prepared comments effectively patting themselves on the back for this or that in matters unrelated to any of the issues that I brought up.  I presumed the issues I had brought up regarding embezzlement, violations of OMA and the FOIA and the city charter would be totally ignored in their comment, but personal attacks against me would be fair game.  This is what Ludington leaders used to do all the time when they were served process or their bad behavior was discovered and broadcast, it's the modus operandi of corrupt governments everywhere. 

They left that task to Rob Alway.  He read a comment just before the meeting concluded that painted Scottville officials as selfless volunteers and community heroes.  This may play well at the echo chambers in city hall locker rooms, but to me and likely most Scottville residents, it came off as Rob's typical elitist propaganda.  The idolatry segued into vilification in due time, ginning up enmity with personal attacks against a foe that he left unnamed. 

I'm sure this played well with his cadre and solidified his image as an expert propagandist to his peers, but it seemed little more than calorie-free pablum to me, while my process server considered it more among the lines of a simple assault, with the thinly veiled threats being exemplary of a person with unresolved anger issues.  The lawsuit throws and f-bombs may reinforce that perspective.  I have ordered up his comment via a FOIA request (as it is a public record) and will analyze Clowncilor Alway's techniques in a future article.  For now, I await their formal answer to their crimes.

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You must have kahoona's the size of Texas. Very brave and bold X. Scottville officials need to wake up and straighten up. I can't believe how history is repeating itself. First Ludington gets the corrupt virus which then spreads to Scottville. I wonder what happened. Oh yeah, I know. It's in the water. Since Scottville is now consuming some of Ludington's fish poop slurry they call water which comes straight out of Lake Michigan and where the toxins from the PM river drain into the lake, Scottiville's officials seem to be operating in a fog. And many thanks to all the beach goers and swimmers peeing in the water and adding to the chemicals and sludge Ludington officials refuse to address. Great job on this report.

And shame on Alway. He must drink the recommended 10 glasses of water a day. Stick to beer or milk Alway.

It's truly A tragedy what's happening in Scottville.  I have attended multiple meetings in that burg over the last decade, politely listening to what was going on when something of interest came up, never commenting because I considered myself an outsider who should remain quiet since I wasn't a Scottville citizen.  

That all changed when the new city attorney decided that he didn't want the City of Scottville (COS) to play by the rules of FOIA, the OMA, and the city charter.  Carlos Alvarado was a bad choice for city attorney since he didn't have the experience and he had proved over the years in Ludington that he had little capacity to follow the FOIA, but had the capacity to follow the dicta of Shay and Barnett when trying to block release of public records that should never have been exempt.  

It only became worse when acting CM Matt Murphy took over and started allowing all city workers to cheat the system with impunity; it was good business for the Chilean fee chaser since he gets a lot of extra cash when he and Chief Murphy doesn't follow the law.  If remaining on the right side of the law paid as well, maybe they would drop all the corruption, but that's not happening, they seem almost to be doubling down and making the mistake that I will give up on them if they ignore me enough.  You might want to ask them how that is working out.

I don't see anything wrong with the weed selling business in the city . Maybe it will open up a store front in the many closed up businesses in the  once thriving town. All they have now in furniture and gas stations. If you don't need either , you just drive on though.

Put one or more of these mari-businesses on South Main Street and they might just be planting their own seeds for germinating a Scottville renaissance in the downtown.  Since that rebirth might turn out with bad offspring (like tattoo parlors ran by people of questionable character-- oops, that already happened), I can see some reluctance by the clowncil's older guard to take a leap of faith without sampling the merchandise first.

Let's look at reality of our local city halls.  They aren't primarily motivated by saving the tax base or the downtown, if they haven't proved that beyond the point of refutation during the pandemic, I can't help you see that in pointing at numerous other proofs.  They won't look at the local results of the 2008 and 2018 elections to gauge what the general public in their jurisdiction leans toward.  If the Holdens, Reeds, Neals, Wilsons, and a vast majority of every other business owners in the downtown called for it, there might be some inertia, but not enough.  

These guys won't acknowledge that the most visible businesses in the downtown area of Scottville: Wesco, Bottle & Cap, and Dollar General make a good deal of their money by selling alcohol to the citizens already.  If they don't acknowledge that, they can maintain their fantasy that Scottville is family-friendly already.  It once was.

 It's just like another business, If a person has a need to purchase an item they will shop in one or many stores selling the things their looking for.  When I was a kid many moons ago Scottville had everything we needed. Now nothing .  My parents rarely went to Ludington shopping. Of coarse things have changed with big stores like Meier,Walmart and big box lumber stores , but not in Scottville . Small Mom - Pop businesses can't compete but for the small nitch business ,Scottville is a ideal location.  Who knows, maybe there could be a pot festival . Don't like it don't go.  I don't , never have did any kind of drugs but I have no right to tell others what they can't do.   City council makes the rules , then after the meeting hits the local bar. Oops, that's closed up to.


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