Scottville has a time bomb ticking and when it goes off, they will be down one councilor for a while. This article is posted late on the night of Monday, July 26th, giving the City of Scottville a few hours to post notice of a special meeting for Tuesday night, held at least 18 hours after the posted notice (because of the Open Meetings Act), where they can still legally meet and choose a city councilor to fill the vacancy created by Brian Benyo's resignation.
They unwittingly set this time bomb themselves by being legally lackadaisical and just plain lazy. Has there been any notifications of a commissioner opening on their webpage? Nope. On their Facebook page, they put a notice up of the vacancy 13 days after the resignation. The city charter only gives the city commission 30 days to appoint a successor, if it takes longer than that a special election must be held with candidates needing to fill out nominating petitions (Scottville Charter, section 6.6(b)). This special election would likely be held in November at the earliest.
Scottville leaders are totally oblivious to this ticking time bomb unless and until they read this, because they cannot be bothered to read their city charter; it's a common trait among those elected to positions of public trust, unfortunately, we've seen it happen often in Scottville in just the last year. We have seen the current batch of scofflaws ignore the charter as concerns public comment, the budget, and elections throughout the last two years, they apparently believe they can ignore it again by waiting until August to choose Benyo's replacement.
Benyo's resignation letter in the 7-6-2021 council packet shows us that he sent his resignation letter to the city clerk on June 27th, with "notice of resignation" as his memo line. He did not suggest anywhere that his resignation would be effective at a later date, to the contrary his choice of words indicates that his resignation is immediate when he uses the past tense: "...it was truly my pleasure to serve." According to the 7-6-21 meeting minutes, the commission 'accepted the formal written resignation letter' sent to the clerk on June 27th.
The city charter Section 6.5 deals with resignations: "All resignations shall be immediately acted upon." While it says the commission can only act upon resignations at their next meeting, the resignation, filed with the city clerk by charter provision, is immediate unless there is a point in the resignation letter suggesting a future date. As the clerk acted upon the resignation immediately, it's very odd that she would mark Benyo present at the meeting and allow him the pretense of voting when he had already formally resigned.
Legal-wise, since the Scottville charter does not explicitly cover the particulars, the Michigan Attorney General's Opinion 6444 is compelling when AG Kelly notes the laws applicable to townships and relates it to cities with unclear provisions in their charters: " a resignation by an elected city councilperson, which by its terms is to take effect at a date in the future, will create a vacancy in that office only after the effective date of the resignation in the future."
Since there was no future date mentioned in the letter, the June 27th resignation was immediate, which left the city commission 30 days to pick a successor. The 30 days will end when July 28 comes around. If that appointment doesn't happen at a legitimate city commission meeting, city leaders will force citizens to pay thousands of dollars to hold a special election. The bright side for citizens is that they won't have to endure a commission-picked candidates and will only have to deal with 6 commissioners for a few months.
At the July 19th meeting, the city commission could have considered the citizens that stepped forward to serve and choose one; at least one of those was in attendance at the meeting. They proved themselves lazy and stupid (once again) for not doing so. What happens if they just ignore the city charter once again at their next scheduled meeting August 2nd and choose a replacement six days late?
It makes my lawsuit being filed against the City of Scottville and certain officials all that much stronger when it's officially filed in circuit court tomorrow. But that's another bombshell.
I noticed in the minutes of the June 21 meeting as well as the July 6 minutes Mr. Benyo was named twice under the roll call roster. I can see that happening once but twice. Shouldn't Benyo's letter be required to have a date of his resignation? It seems to me that if no definite date for his resignation was declared or if he did not state that he was resigning immediately then until either one or the other is declared then he hasn't officially resigned. If this situation is not made clear, I can see a big mess occurring.
Since he is an elected official It doesn't seem legally possible that the commission can assume that an official has resigned until a time frame for that officials departure has been established by that official. What's to stop Benyo from rescinding his letter at a future date after other applicant's have applied for his job.
X, is there a copy of his resignation letter available?
Yes, you may have missed it in the article it's on the last two pages of the link included here: "Benyo's resignation letter in the 7-6-2021 council packet shows us that he sent his resignation letter to the city clerk on June 27th."
He followed the charter by giving his letter of resignation to the clerk, because there is no future date for a resignation and he uses the past tense for his service, one has to take it for an immediate resignation: "The city charter Section 6.5 deals with resignations: "All resignations shall be immediately acted upon."
I think there could be some debate as to the "immediate effect" provision, since the FOIA and other related legislation generally says an email sent one day is deemed to be received by the public body the next business day. I could concede the legal point that the clerk did not receive and effectively act upon the resignation until the 28th of June, that gives them one more day to notice a special meeting. Will they do that? Probably not, the MCP actually advertised the position as still open earlier today, with the deadline for applying on July 30th. MCP Editor/Scottville City Clowncilor Robber Alway makes some more money off his public job with no public disclosure.
I know it's still early, but it appears that the new city manager is not really on the ball. That's too bad, for Scottville to succeed, he has to step up and stanch the bleeding that continues on his watch.