(Due to a high volume of excuses including visiting guests, continuing projects, highly-controversial meetings, legal research, internet connectivity issues, and occasional power blackouts the recap meetings of Scottville and PM Township for this week is behind schedule, here is Scottville's and Ludington's meeting recaps, better late than never.)
The agenda packet for the July 24th meeting of the Scottville City Commission had a couple of interesting items of business, making it my destination for that night rather than the Ludington City Council's meeting happening at the same time. I did share a comment with Ludington and did review the video of that meeting, so I will make a brief recap of that meeting at the end of this article.
The four existing commissioners (Wyman, Deering, Copenhaver, and Seiter) and the Make-believe Mayor/Commissioner Marcy Spencer were all present and they would later consider the sole candidate who stepped forward for Clowncilor Rob Alway's vacant spot, Dixie Spore. Spore would be approved without any issue later in the meeting during the council's first order of business. Before that happened, however, I commented on the most controversial item that night that was on the agenda during the opening public comment, nobody else spoke:
XLFD: "A resolution to Establish Policy for Defense and Indemnification of City Officials and Employees is up for approval tonight. The City pays a lot each year for insurance for such purposes through MMRMA, so why are they paying the city attorney a lot of money, his bill was $7000 for attorney matters this last month, to craft such a resolution, where an ordinance should have been used and defense and indemnity has never been considered in the past?
But the bigger question is who in the City asked for such a resolution when any good faith acting official in the City already has guaranteed representation by MMRMA? Was it Make-believe Mayor Marcy Spencer who retained counsel for herself in two recent clarity hearings for her recall petition? Is she wanting Scottville taxpayers to foot her legal bills for what is a political exercise, not defending against a claim or civil action?
Or was it City Manager Jimmy Newkirk, who bragged to others about what city leaders did back in November to avoid quorums and was later the object of an ethics complaint filed by one of his peers with Michigan Municipal Executives? Perhaps it was Clowncilor Seiter and/or Copenhaver who intentionally neglected their duties, making the commission unable to act for a month and a half last fall.
Whoever it was, it makes me very upset seeing this unprecedented instrument in resolution form come before you for approval when Scottville leaders of the past saw it as unnecessary and redundant. Are you effectively admitting to the townsfolk that you are anticipating getting sued for actions, like the few I mentioned, and concerned that MMRMA will not defend you due to bad faith actions on your part?" [END comment]
The city manager's contention made in the LDN is that the quo warranto lawsuit leveled against Spencer and Alway earlier this year questioning their legitimacy to hold office was not covered by their insurance. Rightly so, nobody in the city, including the city attorney (a law firm of five dozen lawyers) could explain why either faux official had an iota of legitimacy when the laws were applied. It took a baseless ruling by 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski using totally irrelevant laws and ancient precedents to thwart that attempt to restore law and order back to the city commission.
Clowncilor Alway is gone for now, his seat is officially taken, but don't expect him to bow fully out of Scottville politics any time soon. But Marcy still hasn't taken the hint that she is not officially on the commission and that her political career may be in jeopardy this fall pending a successful recall movement started by courageous citizen Eric Thue-- who won't be able to run for Marcy's spot since he has already filed to run for the other vacancy on the council in November.
She is wasting a lot of someone's money in hiring a local lawyer (Carlos Alvarado) for the two clarity hearings and appeal of the ruling in Thue's favor. Make no mistake, the timing of the defense and indemnity resolution is not a coincidence (though the commission would agree that it needed to be looked at at the committee level and wouldn't approve it this night). Truth is, Ms. Spencer could have saved me and Mr. Thue a lot of time and money had she just followed the rules, and the rest of the officials can set things right, if they actually had some moral character and just a little courage, as I explained in my other comment later. It's so easy to figure out, especially when you have the city charter right in front of you:
XLFD: "I want to formally welcome Dixie Spore to her lawfully appointed position on the city commission. This doesn't always happen, a case in point from last year. Three four-year commission spots were on the November ballot and four people ran for them; Then-Mayor Spencer came in dead last. Another two year spot was left unfilled after the election, formally becoming vacant by section 6.2(b)
when the term ended at 7:30 PM on November 14th, by section 4.3 of the charter.
Section 6.6(a) allows the commission to appoint a successor within 30 days of a created vacancy, the commission failed to do so before December 14th at 7:30 PM.
By section 6.6(b) of the charter, the only way remaining to fill the vacancy was to hold a special election.
The city attorney, city staff, and the other commissioners who would vote for Spencer (the same two blackguards who dishonorably shirked their duties in November) to be on the commission on December 27, shredded the city charter in order to place an illegitimate retread in office and then install her as the make-believe mayor.
Intentionally ignoring the laws found in the city charter is one sure way to make you look like a laughingstock to the rest of the county and like lawbreaking despots to your own people. You new commissioners have the power within you to try and restore legitimacy to the City of Scottville and its charter, and the way you do that is to admit it wasn't followed properly in December." [END comment]
If you think I've told the commission this about umpteen times already, you're close to being right, but anybody familiar with advertising, especially if you are just considered background noise (like a staticky radio that comes on during public comment) you know that it takes about twenty times of repetition to actually sink into the consciousness. It might be sooner should a councilor decide that a year's worth of meetings where the legitimacy of your highest elective officer is questioned and found wanting is just too long.
Expect some city charter charts at the next meeting I attend along the same line I've used here. Scottville clowncilors in the past recoiled from these words much like the Frankenstein monster would at the sight of fire. The city attorney was told to create an opinion where he could justify Spencer's legitimacy back in January, he spent some time figuring an opinion out, but claimed attorney-client privilege allowed him to withhold it from the public. What a tool, Attorney Nettleton was probably paid over $1000 to create an opinion that the people can't even see or ever hear about because some unnamed city official claims a privilege!
The commission would approve a temporary traffic control along Maple Street to the north of the lower elementary school between Main and Reinberg Streets. They would take no action on the two requests for proposals (RFPs) for water/sewer rates, lead line replacement, and parking lot improvements in the downtown area and discuss further in committee.
Bill Kerans would approve of the parking lot improvements (likely since they would improve the lots around the senior center, where he directs, and he would defend Spencer as a good person. Commissioner Randy Wyman would also thank her for her service, both after my second comment. I would say the same and more about Mother Teresa, but I would object just as strongly to this saint being mayor of Scottville if she wasn't lawfully selected/elected according to state and local law.
Two absences were noteworthy on Ludington's city council meeting of July 24th. Councilor-at-large John Terzano and some statement about the coming recall hearing on Councilor Les Johnson for raising our taxes and telling us that we would lose a lot of our city services if we didn't.
A light agenda had everything as action items on the agenda pass without any problems. The interesting things came up on public comment. Rick Knuth started off following up on his comments on his damaged shared sewer lateral and the costly repairs (of about $15,000 for three households) they have been deemed liable for. Alison Helminski thanked the city for its help in getting the pedal pad installed in Copeyon Park, with a grand opening on August 5th planned. Angie Beyer brought back a call for a deer cull. Tom Sander brought up the city's purchase of a million-dollar truck to fix sewer lateral problems that isn't being used. Then my statement was made:
XLFD: "I want to cordially invite all councilors and support staff to the clarity hearing for the recall petition on Councilor Les Johnson held before the Mason County Election Commission on Friday, August 4th at 9 AM at the courthouse. As you all SHOULD know, two weeks ago you held a truth in taxation hearing in order to raise tax rates above the rates the Headlee Amendment would have rolled them back to. Every single councilor voted to take nearly $300,000 more from the property owners in Ludington without any discussion even after being challenged at the hearing.
That is until the votes were cast and every taxpayer was tagged with about $75 in new tax liability without this council identifying why the city needed the money more than the city's families struggling to survive and retirees on fixed incomes struggling to put food on their tables. Where is your empathy towards your constituents, councilors, when nearly 100% of them feel that they need the money more than a City that continues to subsidize private developers with the money they receive? Should I do what Deputy Scott Foster of the school board suggested and find people better suited to represent the people you have failed to represent by your aggressive actions against them?
Johnson would state after the votes were made: "if we did not approve these ordinances, we would not have garbage pickup, we would not have a lot of other services that we have. The police department, I don't know of any of you would like to live here without the police department that we have, so I guess I just want to make that clear that if these did not pass, we wouldn't have a lot of these services." You sat silently by when the Finance Committee Chairman said an outright falsehood rather than correct the record, all of you.
So rather than sit idly by, go to the clarity hearing and fully support the lies that Councilor Johnson propagated last meeting, but before that, at this meeting, please tell your electors why the City needs that nearly $300,000 more than they do. Or consider another job because you're definitely not representing them." [END comment]
August 8 at 6PM was selected as a date for a committee of the whole meeting to discuss what to do with the remainder of the ARPA funds. City Manager Mitch Foster began a new feature suggested by the council -- actually answering some of the easier questions that arise during public comment from the prior or current meeting (this could get interesting). He failed to answer either of my two questions, but to his credit, they were made to the council.
The last comment featured Jamie Loney, who thanked the DPW for using the camera to check out their sewer, noted that the city was having their highest traffic totals this year, and noted that the sewer collapse on his shared lateral busted on July 3rd, when a whole lot of traffic is going down Ludington Avenue (coincidence?). Tom Sanders complained about the foot traffic on James Street and how the social district presented some safety problems, additionally he mentioned the 3-way stop on James and Dowland and how there was some issues for those coming off the SS Badger.
Thanks X for your continued concern for political ethics in Ludington and Mason County and diligence in follow through. I was waiting for your report and wondering how you do it all. And yes, better late than never because there is none like you to synthesize the politics down to the core of truth.
I hope Scottville learns to follow their Charter and to not blow more tax money defending the actions of unlawful public officials.
As well, Ludington ... I hope the Councilors attend the clarity hearing and clearly see how to represent the taxpayers and quit feeding the pig that the administration of the city has become.
Thanks for your understanding, FS, and your continued support. I have had a general goal to put out an article out about every other day over the course of our run here on the Ludington Torch, but as I've branched out past city hall into troubling affairs at the local public school, PM Township, and the City of Scottville, the time for research and follow-through has expanded, as has the need for recovery time at the end of the day. I've had to pick up a few new tools, because writing articles for awareness is very helpful, but the trick is to use other implements to achieve the usual goals of liberty, justice, prudence, and, naturally, the freedom you always seek.
I wish my new computer would be more empathetic like you, since I have to regularly go through redundant procedures to save my work, as I continue to have connectivity issues with it; it's maddening, I'll have to copy this post before I hit the "Add Reply" button, because over half the time it'll get lost in the ether.
Excellent report X. What you do is what the LDN should be doing. And they get paid for presenting the public with pages full of BS and lies. There is only 1 place in the County to get the current state of the political madness that lives and breeds in Mason County. And that would be the XLFD News Agency, I wish you well and hope you do not catch the dreaded burnt out syndrome. You do the work of an entire news agency and do it while walking against the winds if corruption. Plus, your not getting any younger.
Thanks for the validation, I truly appreciate it coming from one of our hidden talents.
Things have been busy lately, I used to concentrate on Ludington, since corruption was deep and the COLDNews was running deep cover. We still have plenty of issues at city hall, but I have chased controversies over at Scottville, then the school district, and finally PM Township over the last three years, and they each are still needing some help in getting back on track and (of course) other media aren't doing very good jobs of reporting everything (though Riley Kelly is doing a good job in PM, fair in Scottville). Concentrating on these four entities is time consuming and it's not always easy to keep up, especially during the summer months when I'm also trying to have some fun.
Burn out? Old age? I'm hoping to do a variation of daylight savings time and go back one year at my next birthday, in exchange I will turn it ahead another year when I reach 99. If I don't reach 99, then I will have gotten an extra year of life, so I can't really lose, because if I reach 99, I'll go forward to be 100 years old and be recognized with my third key to the city. That's my plan.
A comment on the Ludington sewer complaint. In the past 40 years that I have lived in Ludington, I personally had to replace 2 sewer lines to the main and 1 water line to the main. Also when curb stop water shut offs failed that was another expense that most think should be on the City. This is not something new . Do I think it's right? Nope . Just part of the cost of living in Ludington and probably most other Cities.