Ludington City Council August 22, 2022: A pile of WWTP sludge is a terrible thing to waste

Early on August 22, 2022, I spent four hours in court arguing a civil case I filed against the Ludington Police Department defended by their civil attorney, County Prosecutor Lauren Kreinbrink and adjudicated by District Court Judge John Middlebrook.  The results have been promising so far, but there is one final issue that will require a special hearing in the near future to resolve.  I am confident that the law is firmly in my favor the only thing I have to worry about is if the person who interprets that law can do so fairly.  If so, it could have far-ranging ramifications.  

At that point I decided I would not be able to attend the Scottville City Clowncil meeting that evening, as preparing materially and mentally for both their meeting and the Ludington City Council's would be too much for one pleasant summer day that I could finish off with an hour on the local tennis courts with a competitive opponent before darkness fell.  Besides, the agenda for Scottville was far from controversial.

Unfortunately, Scottville's meeting appears to have been one that I regret not attending, as City Attorney Carlos Alvarado resigned from his well-paying job citing the continuing turmoil and unprofessional conduct happening at city hall.  Subsequent revelations shows that the police chief appears to think he has the power to destroy public records, receive pay for not working, and otherwise act highly unprofessional.  Back when I brought all of these issues to their attention back when the chief was doing them all and more back in 2021, they ignored my calls.  XLFD was right all along.

 Scottville Police Chief Matt Murphy w/ Officer Katrina Skinner in happier times when they were fighting over pizza rather than who would be stuck with Saturday hours

I anticipate a change of venue for the next meeting--- when they are likely to consider whether to retain or fire the embattled police chief-- in order to accommodate the citizens wanting to see how this dumpster fire spreads.  Attendance and participation would be enhanced if the clowncil would actually follow the city charter and allow the people to be heard before the business of the meeting is conducted.  

Instead, I chose the relaxed atmosphere of a Ludington council meeting without a lot of controversial issues on the agenda, figuring I had to add a little more heat to the summer gathering.  The meeting had two public hearings, effectively for the completion of the Legacy Plaza project and the latest round of rental rehabilitations in the downtown.  Nobody spoke at either of these two hearings, not even the absent community development director letting us know how much money the state wasted on these projects.  I was hoping DDA member Jason Adam would have shown up and thanked the state for giving him a quarter million dollars for his own private benefit.

The council accepted the resignation of the police chief (not a good week for area police chief retainment) so that he could assume the position as director of the Muskegon Public Safety Department.  Councilors Winczewski and May, along with the mayor wished him well and thanked him for his year and change of service.  Nobody from the public, not even I, praised or panned his record or character, however, and it's likely his lasting legacy in Ludington will be that he started the transition from overt police vehicles to stealth vehicles with ghost lettering.  Captain Steve Wietrzykowski will be the interim chief following Chief Kozal's official resignation date on September 2nd, the search for his replacement began yesterday.

Ironically, they also considered police cadets as a way to help with staffing the LPD.  The cadets would be remunerated for classroom training and on-the-job training before they become certified officers.  A traffic control order for a no parking zone on the north side of Loomis Street between Rowe and Harrison was approved, smartly noticing that the street was not wide enough to accommodate the marked parking spaces on the south side of the street and regular traffic if cars are parked on the north side.

Beyond approving the event and road closures in the 500 and 600 block of South James for Octoberfest celebrations on Friday, 9-23-22, they were to consider an ordinance agreeing to contract terms for sludge hauling from the wastewater treatment plant.  In the past, sludge has not been formally hauled away, it either accumulated or was transported informally for agricultural or dumping purposes.  The new contract effectively throws a significant amount of money to a faraway contractor who uses the best sludge for agricultural applications.  I addressed this in my first public comment, just after the only other public commenter, 102nd District Democrat Candidate Brian Hosticka introduced himself.

XLFD:  (7:15 in) "I can't help but be amazed by the potential treasures this city has as a byproduct of two city services, potential treasures that have and will become costly liabilities due to the city's linear thinking.  Earlier this year, the City contracted with an Empire-based composting company to haul away tons and tons of compost created at the area where they dump yard waste.  Rather than allow local farmers and landscapers in Mason County to benefit from the compost and allow the city to recognize additional revenue, we will be paying a contractor around $60,000 yearly to haul it to Leelanau County where they can profit additionally by selling it-- just like we could have.

At tonight's meeting, the council is poised to hire another far-away contractor to haul away biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant, and if their estimate of 2 million gallons of loading and hauling is correct, it will cost us $113,000 in the first year, without including any testing.  The industry defines biosolids as sewage sludge that has undergone sufficient treatment for stabilization and pathogen reduction, and that is of sufficiently high quality to be land applied. 

One would think the many farmers and landscapers in Mason County would benefit greatly from the organic fertilizer in these biosolids and pay handsomely, but noooo.  Instead, Ludington taxpayers will pay a Beulah company handsomely to haul this earthy treasure away back to Benzie County where they can then profit by selling it.   The next time you put compost and fertilizer on your backyard garden, realize that you may be throwing your own yard waste and fecal matter on it while effectively paying two companies to haul it from Ludington and ship it back to our retailers.  Pardon the pun, but it all seems so wasteful."  (END comment]

If you take the time to follow their discussions in committee over either of the two contracts I mention, there is never any talk about trying to contain the costs or actually take advantage of their recyclable assets; so because money is no hindrance to them, they will continue seeing these hauling costs rise and fail to develop any home-grown solutions that would retain the adaptive reuse and profits inside of our own county and potentially add jobs to our citizens.  

I introduced an incident I researched on my own volition after noting one of the business owners in my neighborhood was arrested last year at home for disorderly conduct.  The disorderly statute used is almost exclusively for acts committed in public places, like streets, parks, courthouses, etc.  On review of the police report (which I will reveal in a subsequent article) and the existing bodycam footage, I found the police response was ridiculous and most of the video evidence missing.  Perhaps that was what the court noticed too, as his disorderly charge was dropped later on; I am hopeful that the victim of police impropriety seeks to sue the LPD in federal court for their rash actions, just as he threatened early on in the couple minutes of footage I've seen.

XLFD: (41:50 in) "At the last meeting, citizen Annette Quillan asked you to review the city's noise ordinances because she saw issues arising out at Stix that could arise here.  I echo her call and point out that it has already been an issue in my immediate neighborhood.  On October 6, 2015, Ted Gedra received a special land use permit for the Ludington Bay Brewery.  He indicated that there would be entertainment at times, but that he would follow any and all noise ordinances. 

Our zoning law indicates that a business like Gedra's established in the maritime commercial district under a special land use has the understanding that such a use shall be of a nature which does not cause excessive noise, vibrations, or any other similar impact on neighboring uses.  I have heard some of the brewery's outside entertainment from my vantage nearly two blocks away from the business, and close up when I travel downtown.  Last June, Joe Oquist, owner of the Chesapeake Bay Car Wash and his own residence situated across the street, put a speaker out in his backyard to listen to his own music.  The brewery's music that night reportedly was loud and shook Joe's house.  Ironically, the brewery called in a noise complaint on Joe and LPD Officer Gilmurray responded.  

Joe would tell Gilmurray that the music was playing to drown out his noisy neighbor's music, Gilmurray's response was that the City allows the brewery to have outdoor music, he repeated that while repeating that Joe would be ticketed for disorderly for his less-loud music.  The LPD would conveniently lose any more body cam footage, but the police report notes Gilmurray would ticket Joe for disorderly conduct once Joe went back into his house with his speaker and played it loud once again.  

Neither Gilmurray or his backup Haveman would have operating bodycams when they later arrested Joe on his property for disorderly conduct, a statute that had no application for what Joe is alleged to have done.  This is why we need objective noise ordinances for businesses and accountability for officers that conveniently have their bodycam malfunction when they do bad things.  [END]

Chief Tim Kozal at his last meeting did what he has always done before when his officers are alleged to have egregiously violated the basic civil rights of Ludington citizens: ignored the issue.  He has that right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment, but he won't be able to get away with that posture easily when he's leading Muskegon's public safety department.

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With some trepidation I offered by link two articles from the MCP describing what happened at the Scottville meeting.  These articles may have some inherent bias as the 'reporter' actually has a second job as a city clowncilor (Rob Alway).  Unfortunately many people can't read Riley Kelley's article at the COLDNews (due to a subscription being needed) who was at the meeting (unlike me) and was able to avoid political or personal bias which was evident but not overly blatant in the MCP articles.  The latest news is that Chief Murphy has resigned effective in 90 days or before that, should the clowncil determine otherwise.

SCOTTVILLE — Scottville City Attorney Carlos Alavardo resigned tonight, as a result of the issues the city recently has
faced with its police chief, Matt Murphy and the efforts by some of the city commissioners to defend Murphy and place
blame on City Manager Jimmy Newkirk. Alvardo’s resignation letter, dated today, Aug. 22, 2022, was read by Mayor Marcy Spencer during tonight’s regular city commission meeting. The commission voted 6-1 to accept Alvarado’s resignation with Mayor Pro-Tem Rob Alway voting against it.

In his resignation letter, Alvarado spells out the events that centered around the July 25 incident that involved Murphy
and City Manager Jimmy Newkirk in which Murphy claimed he had been fired by Newkirk. Alvardo also refers to the behavior of commissioners Nate Yeomans and Ryan Graham as further reason behind his resignation.

“After the events of the last two weeks, I have come to the realization that I can no longer continue serving you as your
city attorney,” Alvarado stated. “There seems to be no interest for learning the facts on which to base informed
decisions, or the legal consequences of actions taken.”

Earlier in the meeting, Newkirk pointed out that only Mayor Marcy Spencer and Mayor Pro-Tem Alway had spoken to him about the July 25 incident with the chief, though Yeomans announced, during the commission’s July 25 meeting, that the chief had been fired and Graham, during the Aug. 8 meeting of the commission, called Newkirk a “tyrant” for his actions when attempting to discipline the chief. Newkirk has not spoken publicly about the incident based on advice by Alvarado, he said during the meeting.


Matt Murphy

“My professional involvement in Chief Murphy’s unfortunate personnel issue began on Sunday July (24), 2022 when I received a communication from City Manager Newkirk stating that Officer (Katrina) Skinner had requested a meeting for the next day, Monday, July 25, 2022, with Chief Murphy, Mayor Spencer, and himself regarding a scheduling issue. I had scheduled myself to be available Monday morning, July 25, 2022.

“The conflict between Officer Skinner and Chief Murphy stemmed from a previous verbal agreement Officer Skinner had with the City, which exempted her from working weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). She reported that Chief Murphy had asked her to report to work on Saturday.

“During the weekend (Sunday), I was told that Officer Skinner had not reported to work on Saturday and that Chief Murphy had suspended her for a day (Monday), so it was not clear whether she would attend the requested meeting. On Monday morning in a telephone call with the Mayor and the City Manager, I advised the City Manager to send an email to Chief Murphy, asking him to reinstate Officer Skinner and making him aware of Skinner’s allegation, as a possible liability for the city, as explained in the email sent to Chief Murphy on Monday morning.

“On Monday, July 25, 2022, I was out of the office (his law firm office in Ludington) at a charity event for an
organization of which I am the president, so I was not available via telephone or email. A text message from the City
Manager advised me that Chief Murphy was upset about the email sent to him, and had not returned Officer Skinner to duty.

“What happened next that afternoon? I was not at City Hall. However, the facts show that Chief Murphy sent back to his
office after having a discussion with the City Manager regarding the email sent by the City Manager to the Chief earlier
in the morning. Starting at 5:33 (p.m.) on Monday afternoon, I began receiving throughout the evening, several incoherent messages from Chief Murphy on my personal cellular phone. The gist of these messages was that he had been fired by the City Manager and he was demanding a meeting to discuss his record.

“Since I did not have sufficient information to address the situation depicted in Chief Murphy’s messages, and it was late at night (the last message was after midnight), I waited until Tuesday morning to speak with City Manager Newkirk. Upon talking to him, I learned that Chief Murphy had wiped to factory setting his city-owned computer, deleting all the public records of which he is supposed to be the custodian. He also wiped clean his city-owned cellular phone.”

Alvardo then refers to a memo that recommends the commission adopt a determination on that matter.

“On Wednesday, July 27, 2022, I participated in a meeting between Chief Murphy, Mayor Spencer, and City Manager Newkirk. I moderated the meeting, and the only purpose was to state to the Chief, as I had explained to his attorney (Melissa Stowe-Lloyd) the day prior, that as far as the City was concerned, Chief Murphy had not been terminated. Chief Murphy is a contracted employee, his salary is set by the Commission, and while he reports to the City Manager and is subject to his supervision, his employment contract can only be terminated by the Commission, as the City Manager does not have the financial authority to encumber the City in any amount over $2,000. As the Chief’s supervisor, the City Manager has the power and authority to recommend the termination of the Chief’s contract to the Commission.

“At the end of the meeting, it was my understanding that the matter was settled and that, while it seemed obvious that the relationship between the City Manager and the Chief of Police had been severely damaged, I trusted both to be
professionals and move forward. That has not been the case. On Monday, August 8, 2022, at the regular Commission meeting, Commissioner Yeomans distributed a letter from a City of Ludington councilwoman (Cheri Stibitz), and Commissioner Graham read a letter, both of them widely publicized, serving no other purpose but to exacerbate the matter. As commissioners they do not need to read someone else’s letters to express their opinions, as they are entitled to conduct an inquiry to assert the facts and determine whether an ordinance or contractual violation has taken place.

“A simple personnel issue, elevated to disproportionate importance, has brought to the surface the fact that the
commission is divided to the extreme that I do not believe my role as an attorney is useful, simply because there seems to be no interest in the legal support of a position and or argument before adopting decisions. I am not naive. The
commission is a political body, and politics drive commission decisions, but when a political body and the interested
parties lack the interest to even learn the facts that may have an impact on the city’s liabilities, my work as an
attorney is no longer required.”

The commission discussed the issue of the wiped computer and phone. Newkirk had received a quote from a data recovery lab that estimated recovery of the data would have cost between $800 to $1,800. During the commission’s discussion on the topic and in a memo to the commission Murphy admitted that he had a backup of the data, including the phone. However, he did not offer the information during the July 27 meeting with the mayor, city manager and city attorney (that meeting was recorded and MCP has received a copy of the recording through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act).

During the commission meeting, Alway asked Murphy how the city could receive the backed up data. Murphy said some of the information was sensitive information that was police business. Alway then made a motion to instruct the city manager to contact the Michigan State Police to ask if it could receive the data. Murphy then stated that the data was stored in the police department’s evidence room.

Mayor Spencer then stated that she believed Murphy deliberately withheld the information about the backed up data during the July 27 meeting.

The topic of retrieving the data was ultimately tabled.

Newkirk said, following the meeting, that he still plans on contacting the Michigan State Police to request it investigate
the matter.

“The city is high and dry for an attorney now,” Al Deering, a citizen and chairman of the city’s planning commission said
during public comment. “It’s an embarrassment to the commission and publicly there’s nothing worse than your public
perception.”

Jeff Barnett of Amber Township, who owns several downtown buildings, said he had come to the meeting to talk about the many new business ventures he and his partners have planned for downtown. Instead, he said he wanted to talk about the issue with the commission and the police chief, which has caused him to possibly reconsider his investments.

“I believe in Scottville and am putting a huge investment in Scottville,” Barnett said. “I’ve got to rethink a lot of
things considering what’s going on here. I really think Scottville had been heading in the right direction.”

Thanks X for the links to MCP. This issue just keeps getting into a bigger political snowball. It seems to me that power went to Murphy's head without knowing his written rules. Not the first time with him? Then Newkirk fired Murphy, and Newkirk didn't have that right? I wonder if Skinner had it in writing from previous administration that she didn't have to work weekends. That there seems like special favor for a police officer. Whatever, it is spilling the apple basket and I'm glad to see Murphy resign and some cleaning up going on after how you were treated when Murphy was the acting clown. Glad to see Alvarado step aside too for his feelings were hurt and he seems to not know a lot compared to you.
I'm also relieved to see some backlash against the two city councilors sticking their noses in the gossip ring and copying papers (allegedly).

I hope the other lengthy COLDNews article I just shared regarding the documents and recordings pertaining to this case helps confirm some of your thoughts and suspicions.  

I do not fault Commissioners Yeomans and Graham, or even Ludington Councilor Stibitz in her MCC employee capacity, for weighing in on this matter; what I do find fault with is that their statements were effectively choosing to support Chief Murphy over City Manager Newkirk without a complete understanding of what the facts were, indeed the commissioners had been lobbied by Murphy and likely had only his side of the issue to depend on in making their decision to label Newkirk as a tyrant, megalomaniac, and a rash actor.  Newkirk has problems with the truth, but I haven't seen him exhibit any of these traits that are more in line with what I've seen in Chief Murphy when stressed.

That must be nice to allow Murphy to rub all this in the Cities face. He, Murphy will resign in 90 days on his terms . Kick his ass to the curb now.   LOL  

That immediate firing is one thing I will be advising for this Monday's special meeting, held basically to get Scottville a new city attorney-- they will definitely need one and soon.  I may try out for the FOIA Coordinator position:

Latest from the COLDNews relates info on some of the documents dropped:

Documents, recording shed light on rift at Scottville City Hall By RILEY KELLEY Daily News Staff Writer

Two issues appear to be at the heart of a rift between Scottville City Manager Jimmy Newkirk and outgoing Police Chief Matt Murphy: a verbal agreement that predates both officials’ tenures with the city, and confusion about the chain of command at City Hall.

The dispute came to a head in an argument between Newkirk and Murphy on July 25, which led to both parties believing Murphy’s employment with the city had ended. Though it was later clarified that Newkirk did not have the power to make that decision, the rift still contributed to the resignations of both Murphy and former City Attorney Carlos Alvarado.

The Daily News obtained several written and electronic communications relevant to the issue, along with a recording of a meeting between Murphy, Alvarado, Newkirk and Mayor Marcy Spencer on July 27 through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The issue started with an order from Murphy that Officer Katrina Skinner work on Saturdays. Skinner claims to have a verbal agreement with the city to work Monday through Friday, but the agreement was made in 2019 — well before Newkirk’s arrival in 2021 and Murphy’s hiring as police chief in January 2020 — according to an email from Skinner to Newkirk, dated June 29, 2022. Skinner states that the agreement was made with former Mayor Bruce Krieger and former City Manager Amy Williams as a condition of her employment as a full-time officer.

Murphy told the Daily News that he was not aware of any such agreement when he ordered Skinner to work on Saturdays. “I was never told that she couldn’t work weekends until after I (believed I) was fired,” Murphy said Wednesday. Skinner did, however, tell Newkirk about the agreement, not just in the June 29 email, but in a follow-up email on July 8 seeking clarification about the issue.

The Daily News attempted to contact Skinner via email but did not receive a response. When an attempt was made to reach her by phone at City Hall, Murphy told the Daily News Skinner was on vacation and could not be reached. Skinner was asked by Murphy not to come to work on Monday, July 25, after not appearing for a Saturday shift.

In a text message to Newkirk dated July 22, Murphy states that he is “about to suspend” Skinner and asks for a call with Newkirk. Murphy told the Daily News that Skinner was not suspended and that she was asked not to come to work on that Monday to balance payroll. He said he “considered” suspending her, but never actually carried the action out, adding that he was waiting to hear from Newkirk.

When Skinner contacted Newkirk asking for a meeting to resolve the issue, Newkirk consulted with Alvarado, then sent an email to Murphy instructing him to honor Skinner’s agreement with the city and ask her to return to work, though in another email to Alvarado, dated July 24, Newkirk states that he “looked all over and (didn’t) see anywhere that that agreement can stand or that I could overturn Matt’s decision to have her work.”

Still, based on Alvarado’s advice, Newkirk asked Murphy to reinstate Skinner, if in fact she had been suspended. “(Skinner) stated that she has been asked to work on Saturday, while her oral agreement with the city has been, from the inception of her employment, to work from Monday through Friday,” Newkirk told Murphy. “I learned this morning that she is not at work and that you may have asked her to stay home. It’s not clear whether that is a suspension or not. “There is a big irregularity that may pose some serious liability to the city: If she has an oral agreement with the city, and the city, as far as I know, has been honoring said agreement, it cannot be changed without her agreement, or at least being given the opportunity to agree.”

Newkirk wrote that “any suspension must be deliberated between the two of us, after I have been provided with the facts,” and asked Murphy to “please contact Officer Skinner and have her return back to work as usual.” Newkirk asked for a copy of Skinner’s personnel file to seek further guidance from Alvarado, but he added that, “in the meantime, Officer Skinner’s employment relationship with the city shall remain in status quo.”

Newkirk told Murphy that, while he has the “authority to supervise and discipline (his) employees,” suspensions have to be made “in conjunction with” the city manager. That email led to the argument on July 25, when, according to an email from Newkirk to Alvarado that day, Murphy “entered my office and closed the doors” and was “visibly upset.” “He asked if he has any control of his department and that bringing Katrina back would undermine any authority he has,” Newkirk wrote. “I advised him that I sent the letter under advice from the city attorney. He again repeated that he cannot and won’t run his department this way. I responded he’s putting the city and risk of a discrimination lawsuit. … I said that ‘this was the way that it was going to be.’ “… He said he can’t be held to an agreement made by people who aren’t here anymore and there’s nothing on paper. … I told him she was not working Saturday.

He said again, ‘I can’t work this way.’ I replied, ‘Then don’t.’ He (said) if I was firing him … I’d better think about it because the ramifications would be huge. I said, ‘If you can’t work with that agreement then you’ve got your 90-day notice.’”

In Murphy’s account, heard in the July 27 recording, he states that he attempted to have a conversation with Newkirk about the issue, and that Newkirk “blew up.” He said he was “fired and asked to leave.” “I came in, sat down, and started to discuss this with Jimmy, and he threw a temper tantrum,” Murphy states, alleging that Newkirk has established a “pattern” of that behavior. In the recording, Alvarado tells Murphy that the city manager does not have the authority to fire the police chief, and asks why he didn’t appeal to the city commission, or to Spencer, if he believed he had been terminated. Alvarado did not address why Skinner didn’t take her concerns directly to Murphy, or why Newkirk believed he had the authority to fire Murphy.

Murphy responds that he “called everyone who would answer” to apprise them of the situation after the argument with Newkirk, adding that he was not able to reach Spencer. Alvarado tells Murphy that there is a chain of command, and that while the city manager cannot fire the police chief, the city manager is still the chief’s supervisor. Alvarado states that Murphy’s leaving after the argument with Newkirk constituted an act of “insubordination.” Murphy laughs and asserts that there “is no chain of command” at City Hall, though he reiterates that he attempted to speak to Newkirk about the issue.

Alvarado later adds that not adhering to Skinner’s verbal agreement with the city — which had been followed, even if unspoken, up to that point — posed a liability risk to the city. He also asks why, if Murphy believed there was no chain of command for Skinner, he did not simply “do the same” and appeal to the city commission, or to Alvarado himself, when he believed he’d been fired. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Murphy replied. “There’s a set of ethics that you have to follow, and they are not being followed here. I’m just being honest. “We talk about discrimination and liability — well, now I have another employee who feels he’s being discriminated (against) because he’s not being offered the same (agreement). So now we’re in a situation where if anyone doesn’t want to work on weekends, I don’t have any authority to say, ‘No, you’re working,’ because look at what happens when I order someone to work.” Alvarado states that if that’s the case, Murphy should take it up with the personnel committee.

Spencer speaks up after that, outlining the communications from Skinner to Newkirk to Murphy, suggesting that it constitutes a “chain of command.” “Katrina should advise me that she disagrees with me so I can provide information to Jimmy, so he can make a logical decision and have both sides of the story,” Murphy replies. “That’s how chain of command works.” Murphy then states that there’s “no reason commissioners should be involved, because they do policy and don’t direct staff, who carry out their policy.” He adds, “I attempted to follow the chain of command, and I was terminated and thrown out of the building.” Alvarado reiterates that Murphy had not been fired and states that Murphy had “the obligation to understand the charter … and what the HR book says,” specifically that suspensions have to be coordinated with the city manager, and who has the authority to fire other employees.

Alvarado then states that, following the argument with Newkirk, Murphy “wiped out his computer and phone and left.” Murphy has admitted that he restored his city-owned devices to their factory settings when he believed he’d been fired, but he states that he was “doing exactly what (former Police Chief) Don Riley did for me when he left.” Spencer asks if Murphy truly believes that wiping the computer seemed like the right thing to do. “I don’t know if it was correct, but (Riley) had his computer at base settings when I got here,” Murphy replies.

Spencer notes that the computer contained information needed to run the city, and also states that Murphy ordered the retrieval of the computer of former City Manager Courtney Magaluk prior to Magaluk’s departure from the city through a mutual-separation agreement. “Under your direction for Courtney when she was gone, didn’t we go and get her computer, worried that she would do the same thing?” Spencer asks. “It was at your guys’ request,” Murphy replies, then states that he didn’t remember.

The issue of the city-owned devices being reverted to factory settings was discussed during Monday’s city commission meeting, during which Commissioner Rob Alway suggested that the city reach out to the Michigan State Police to investigate the matter. During the July 27 meeting, Alvarado stressed to Murphy that all material on city-owned devices was city property and public record. Murphy stated that the data on his devices was backed up in an external hard drive in the evidence room. The issue was ultimately tabled by the city commission.

However, when asked by the Daily News if there was any plan to move forward with an MSP investigation, Newkirk later said he didn’t believe such a thing would require commission approval. Near the end of the July 27 meeting, Alvarado advised Murphy to read the charter and HR manual and keep a paper trail of office communications.

In Alvarado’s resignation letter on Monday, he states that after the July 27 meeting, he believed Newkirk and Murphy would “both be professionals and move forward,” though he added that, “That has not been the case.” It’s not clear what specifically triggered Alvarado’s resignation, though he did attribute his decision in part to a “lack of interest” in his legal opinions. He cited statements and letters about the dispute between Newkirk and Murphy, made or read by commissioners Ryan Graham and Nathan Yeomans during commission meetings, only served to “exacerbate” the issue and that the commission is “divided to the extreme.”

Murphy, who also did not give a specific reason for his resignation, stated that he would work with the city to see if the 90-day window written into his contract should be lessened. He also added that he hoped his decision would be healing for the city.

Excellent reporting X. What I don't understand about Alvarado is why would he point fingers in his resignation letter? Why not bow out gracefully and stay out of the feud?  Is he representing the Commissions interest in this, the Mayor's, the Police Dept., the citizens or himself?. Making waves and enemies is not a good recipe for future positive relations with the City of Scottville. What a mess. To bad for the hard working citizens.

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