Scottville City Hall has become a den of corruption, but don't just take my word for it. The City of Ludington Daily News (COLDNews) who, like me, was unlawfully denied a FOIA request for a non-exempt public record dealing with meeting minutes and a completed investigation, has did some of their own extra digging and has found out something rather amazing.
They obtained a copy of City Manager Magaluk’s June 2020 performance review considered in closed session from the City of Scottville (COS) through a Freedom of Information Act request and found the city commission listed efficiency as one of her greatest strengths. Six months later, that same city commission would create a committee that would conduct an investigation into Magaluk regarding her lack of efficiency, hiring a detective to look into some situations predating her positive evaluation by the commission in June. Each situation that the detective looked into was later refuted by magaluk, without any sort of counter-refutation offered by anybody at Scottville City Hall.
The evidence seems to point towards some city officials desiring to remove Ms. Magaluk from her office for some reason, but not having any valid reason to do so legitimately. They create a crisis that doesn't pass muster, they have a committee formed (one that doesn't follow the Open Meetings Act (OMA)), they conduct an investigation that has zero credibility behind it because of the obvious conflicts of interests involved making it totally one-sided, they withhold that information from the public violating the FOIA to do so, and then they force a resignation citing inefficiency while the record shows she was praised for that trait just months before-- while the two officials who took over forty overtime hours to do a two hour job and took undue compensation are given free passes for their blatant inefficiency.
Everything points to bad officials getting rid of a good official, which signifies an underlying corruption that is systemic in Scottville politics at this time. I spoke at the last virtual meeting of the city commission held on February 15th expressing my concern over the parts played by two city officials who clearly had something to gain from discrediting and discarding City Manager Magaluk.
XLFD: "Please allow me to make a few points as an outside observer of what's happening in the City of Scottville. I make these observations after having read Detective Sailor's one-sided investigation report on certain inefficiencies and the former city manager's non-refuted responses, along with other public records provided to me on request.
Ms. Magaluk was willing, able, and capable of taking a couple hours to fill in a revenue sharing report, she had done it before. She claims that the police chief and treasurer would not allow her to do it, even though she was not yet on maternity leave. This resulted in the part-time treasurer claiming 25 hours of overtime that next week, including holiday pay. Chief Murphy would claim 20 hours of comp time in that same pay period.
The applicable rules do not allow Treasurer Shafer to claim overtime not warranted by her superior, which was Ms. Magaluk, nor should she be getting full-time benefits which would more than double her wages. Chief Murphy doesn't qualify for comp time because of his position and income.
In other words, the investigation and its follow up did not uncover wrongdoing or profiteering by Ms. Magaluk, but it did catch blatant fraud and profiteering by the city treasurer and the currently acting city manager. That is where the discipline should be occurring. Thank you."
I've been to enough meetings in Scottville to know that the good people in Scottville rarely give their city officials any grief even when they deserve it, so my allegations seems to have taken them aback. Later on somebody, it was either Acting City Manager Chief Matt Murphy or Acting Journalist Commissioner Rob Alway, made the claim that City Treasurer Kathy Shafer was a full-time employee during a discussion. They made a point to stress that point and the rest of the officials accepted it as the winning 'fact' refuting my assertion that she was hired as part-time and that hadn't been legitimately changed.
This is an important dispute to resolve because if she is a part-time officer she is not eligible for many of the perks she receives. It should be pointed out first that Ludington has nearly seven times the amount of people in Scottville, and they have been served by one elected city treasurer for many years. It should also be noticed that until Shafer was hired part-time in 2016, her duties were performed solely by the city manager who was capable of doing both jobs efficiently in 40 hours in what it now takes over 80 hours to do, since timesheets from November to February show Treasurer Shafer getting full-time work plus several overtime hours that are not allowed by city policy even to full-time workers-- while ACM/Chief Murphy claims illegitimate comp time.
So the City of Scottville is defending the position that Treasurer Shafer's job is full-time, here's why she isn't. I sent a FOIA request on February 2nd asking for "Any ordinance or resolution passed by the city commission that allowed Scottville's current part-time treasurer to become full time and receive the appropriate benefits of that status." I received a response from City Attorney Alvarado telling me that no such records existed.
Kathy Shafer was chosen by a hiring committee made up of City Manager Amy Williams and Commissioner Marcy Spencer. Williams made the announcement Monday at Scottville City Hall.
“We have hired a new part-time treasurer, Kathy Shafer,” Williams said. “She comes to us with some experience, especially with taxes.”
Section 6.13 of the Scottville City Code states: "The compensation of all employees and officers of the city whose compensation is not provided for herein shall be fixed by the appointing officer or body within the limits of budget appropriations and in accordance with any pay plan adopted by the Commission."
The appointing body, which appears to be the 'hiring committee' as this never came officially before the city commission, fixed Shafer's compensation, and that was as part time help. Neither the disbanded subcommittee or the city commission has unfixed that original position according to their absence in the minutes (of even simple motions) and by Alvarado's admission that there has been no official change through resolution or ordinance.
Recall also that when the MML/City advertised the position that Magaluk filled in 2019, they stated the treasurer position was part time. Full-time City Clerk Kelse Lester, who was officially appointed during Magaluk's term by the city commission on 9-16-19, receives 20% less than the officially part-time treasurer according to recent itemized budget records I received through a FOIA request:
The itemized budget includes a significant accounting discrepancy in a recent budget that I will explore in detail in a later article. By the city charter, the treasurer and city manager have responsibilities in creating budgets, there is no part of the investigation that claims any problem with the budget on behalf of the city manager, which suggests the part-time city treasurer collecting 50% of her wages in benefits, not given to other part-time employees at the city, may be the cause of this discrepancy.
This fraud and larceny would normally be investigated by an uncorrupted city hall for the official graft and avarice that it is, rather than defended by the supposed representatives of the people of Scottville whose efforts benefit their own peers at the cost of the taxpayers.
Good work X. It's a shame that small town politics can be so divisive. But I'm sure Alway, having the inside track on City Hall, will have his ace reporters get right on this story and make it front page news. Scottville citizens deserve better.
At tonight's meeting I made a comment that summarized the above information and said that Murphy and Shafer are effectively committing a felony crime of embezzlement by funneling an extra $22,000 each year to the part-timer in wages and benefits and by allowing Chief Murphy to claim and use comp time when he can't do so. My comments were totally ignored tonight, they just conducted their normal business.
When corrupt and criminal public officials ignore me, I have a historic tendency to pay additional attention to them. I have friends in Scottville whose tax dollars are being wasted by fraud and embezzlement conducted by the city treasurer and acting city manager.
I can hardly wait to attend their meetings in person.
What I don't understand is that if there is a good explanation for what has taken place, why have they not explained it? If what you assert is true then that means the entire executive and legislative branches of Scottvile's government are complicit.
Willy, I have a conceit that I am a reasonable person, and I have an impression from your comments over the years that you are a reasonable person. We come to the same conclusion.
One would hope that at least one city official in Scottville is a reasonable person, it's probable that to get where they are in life, that they are all reasonable people. All those reasonable people cannot form a reasonable answer that other reasonable people can understand and forgive the unforgivable excesses portrayed in my recent articles on Scottville.
It is reasonable to infer that there is no answer within the realm of reason that would allow for the discrete form of embezzlement portrayed here, so rather than look foolish in offering an unreasonable excuse, they choose to ignore the messenger. They did that entirely this Monday night, and that was because they realize that claiming she was a full-time employee at the last meeting was a mistake.
Gandhi summed up speaking truth to power nicely when he made the conclusion: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The safest thing for them to do is to ignore me, hoping I will go away, but that's not going to happen while I'm still fogging the mirror and they're still denying their graft. The next stage is ridicule and that will be revisited in the near future, shaming themselves by using their position to try and discredit the truth by shaming the messenger.
I fully expect a fight to be put up by Scottville City Hall sometime during this summer when their biweekly dose of the truth about their corruption makes them too uncomfortable to diminish or ridicule the facts.