To Ross the Ethical Line: Ludington City Attorney Attempts Public Extortion

Corrupt.  Yes, I know the city government is corrupt, that's why I resubmitted petition language for a mayor that regularly falls short on ethical behavior, and submitted my first of three recall petitions for city councilors listing four votes where the legally-trained Councilor John Bulger did not listen to his conscience and/or the will of the people.  I then went to the February 12th meeting and gave all of these officials a good tongue-lashing on their indiscretions, coinciding with the ascension of Mark Barnett to the role of mayor.

Like the arrogant elitists they play the part of every other Monday, they ignored these public-flung salvos against their shining armor that Team Ludington thinks they wear at these meetings.  But most everyone else paying attention to what they're actually doing sees their true garb is more like tarnished chamber pots. 

City Attorney Ross Hammersley (above) has been an upgrade from the former city attorney and few would argue with his ethics throughout Mayor Miller's term, but he has been misdirected by Mayor Barnett and the encroaching decay of the current city council.  Recall, he was the one who drafted a set of rules for public comment on Barnett's directives that were just plain dismissive of the First Amendment. 

Thus, maybe Hammersley can tell the judge that it was Mayor Barnett who made him do a bad thing this time too.   It all started with a simple FOIA request made over the weekend where I asked Chief Chris Jones (copying Mr. Hammersley) for records involving a recent arrest made by a Ludington officer in a neighboring township:

Could you please provide electronic copies to this email address of the incident report regarding an early morning arrest (around 3 AM on January 6, 2024) made by Officer Austin Morris of [arrestee and address arrested at]? Please include any follow-up investigations, warrant requests, photos, bodycam and dashcam footage etc. related to this incident.

I've made such requests over the last four years without much issue, the city provides the incident report and other documents to my email address, then sends me a link to a site our tax dollars pay for that has any camera footage, suitably redacted.  The city has usually charged me nothing for the service, as it usually has to prepare these videos and documents anyway for the court cases that they often spawn.  This time is no different, a man is being charged with a serious crime and it's hard to say why.  From what I've seen and heard, including from other camera footage, the LPD was the only party caught on film doing criminal things.  

Back when Mark Barnett was the chief of police, you could always tell when he wanted to protect public records from being viewed by the public, their rightful owners who pay for their toys.  He would assign a high value to it, such as when he wanted $2500 for the Baby Kate police report and $140 for recent footage from bathroom cameras that he swore to the state police hadn't worked for years.  The former report amounted to a 96-page report with two edits after the first page and should have been a free disclosure, the latter, as you may expect from inoperable cameras, never existed and so he and Shifty City Manager John Shay wanted $140 for nothing.

What happens is I get back a response and an explanation saying I owe them some money:

I was fairly surprised that there were a lot of videos associated with this arrest, but I was even more surprised when I looked at the cost estimation sheet:

When you look at line 5, you notice they are charging the Ludington Torch for 9 videos at $25 a pop, which pushes the cost up to $225, plus a nominal $4.37 clerical fee for separating the exempt records for 1/4 hour.  The city has never approved a straight $25 for police videos when they last amended their FOIA policy, nor does the city charge for labor unless it takes at least a half-hour of staff time.  

The Open Government section of the city website has their FOIA Policies where the latter is stated and charging $25 for what usually amounts to a couple of minutes of blurry videos is never considered.  No, when we take a look at the current approved Cost Estimation Worksheet it looks a bit different than the one sent to me earlier today:

See the subtle differences?  16 lines in the official, council-approved form, no indication that body cam videos have any special value, and surely not $25 for every cut.  If it takes only 1/4 of an hour of labor for separating exempt material out, the charge for this request should be free (NOT $230).  And the city attorney and the police chief have done that for free, even over the last year, helping the Ludington Torch as a media outlet get the truth out.  And they do this until I start a movement to restore democracy by putting eligible wayward councilors and a mayor through the recall process.  Not a coincidence.

When the city attorney attempt to get a large amount of money that the law doesn't entitle him to it is called attempted public extortion. and when I go pay off 1/2 of this total tomorrow, I will take my receipt over to the county sheriff and have him investigate the Ludington city attorney, police chief, and city manager for actually committing public extortion, a misdemeanor crime:

And this crime is particularly egregious because someone altered the official cost estimate worksheet document so as to be able to extort money from the public that city FOIA policy would not allow.  The police chief and city attorney, along with the city manager are all complicit with this incredibly corrupt act taken-- no doubt in my mind from what I've already seen-- because perjurous Officer Austin Morris violated multiple policies and even more rights of this man.  

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If you were not so good at reading and understanding the law, the common citizen would be completely discouraged from proceeding with any effort to obtain public records. These foolish people are costing the taxpayers umpteen thousands of dollars and they could not care less that they are breaking the law. Their only concern is to stick to whomever stands in their way. Don't these people have any honor or sense of what is right and wrong. I noticed what appears to be creepy leftist mental illness that has burrowed it's way into minds of those working for City Hall. It's part of the memo sent by Karla Gerds. Whatever she, he, it or whatever Gerbs is on any given day points to what a mindless puppet Gerbs is. Bowing to the gender insanity. This kind of thinking is what's guiding much of what is going on. People may think it means nothing but that would be an untruth.
For some reason I rarely can post a picture on discussions so I am must post it under photos then provide a link.

We are all the poorer when you cannot post one of your insightful political cartoons or other more serious artwork.  On the rare times I haven't been able to post pictures, restarting the computer usually fixes the issue, I think it has something to do with working memory.   

The law firm is smack in the heart of Northern Michigan's liberal Mecca, Traverse City and believes itself a champion of environmental causes one generally considers leftist, so it's not a surprise that they check all the boxes by establishing their working pronouns in a line of their email.  It explains why the COL veers to the left whenever a controversial issue that falls along party lines comes to the city.  One of the better reasons for a recall is a hope to purge the partisanship that has emerged recently, reflecting not the overall character of the citizens, which is center-right, but rather of big government progressives.

That's why they don't bat an eye when they raise taxes and insist they haven't raised taxes when they clearly do.


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