Ludington City Council Meeting January 11, 2021: Sparks and Recreation

Not a lot was scheduled to do at the Monday, January 11th, 2021 Ludington City Council meeting.  The first meeting of the year generally has organizational procedures being done, most of this was done in December with committee appointments, but on this night they would choose Les Johnson as Mayor pro tem, the councilor who would fill in for the mayor shall he be absent for any reason.

Other than that, the agenda shows they would rehire their lowest-bid cleaning service, approve the financial institutions to store their money at, and renew an agreement between the Harbor View Marina they manage and Harbor Front Condominiums to share use of the clubhouse and swimming pool for a fee. 

The rather bland midwinter docket needed a little spicing up, which I incorporated into my first comment which keyed in on the Harbor View contract being discussed and their actual 'first meeting of the year': 

 

XLFD (3:00 in):  "Allow me to welcome all the new councilors, the new committee members, and the new fire chief, who have all answered the call of public service in accepting your new roles.  May you measure your efficiency in providing basic services by the extent you transparently preserve the rights and wealth of those you serve.

Last week, the City properly noticed that a quorum of city councilors may meet at several City facilities on January 7th.  One of these facilities was the Harbor Front Marina clubhouse, which is a facility owned by the State and ran by the City but it is also ran as if it is a private facility.  I was sitting quietly at the clubhouse this last summer, when two marina managers said I had to leave.  I called the police and it was established (without written proof) that only registered and paid boat slip guests were allowed at the clubhouse.  Anybody who did not fit that description could be arrested for trespassing.

Thursday afternoon, I went to Harbor View Marina and saw five people enter the clubhouse, the site of the public meeting.  The city manager's notes infer that four of those were city councilors, I will not ask those councilors whether they are paid boat slip holders, I do know that the marina was empty of boats as it typically is in January.  I also knew that I wanted to attend that meeting, and I  knew that I was afraid of being arrested for trespassing, just like I was ten years ago when the City speciously banned me from city hall and the police station and I was both disenfranchised from voting and attending public meetings for fourteen months.

The Open Meetings Act in section 3(1): states unambiguously that meetings "must be held in a place available to the general public".  The City police sergeant, marina manager, and city manager made it very clear that the general public is not allowed in the clubhouse at Harbor View-- and yet they all openly allowed city councilors who do not qualify under the set rules into the building to hold a "public" meeting where the public would be threatened with a misdemeanor just for attending.  This is less a violation of the Open Meetings Act, and more of a violation of the civil liberties of all Ludington citizens who are forced to support this ostensibly-public facility with their local and state taxes and are openly discriminated against for using them.   

The City may perpetuate this civil right infraction tonight by continuing to allow the Harbor Front Condo Association special access to Harbor View Marina facilities, thereby reestablishing a third class of individuals, all being treated differently at a public facility.  If you cannot see that as wrong, you may be in the wrong job. [END comment]"

You may notice that City Manager Foster left off the word "job" which altered the meaning of my statement. Nine months ago when I alerted the city manager that I would not participate via Zoom at city council meetings since I believed (and still do) that such meetings disenfranchise about a third of the population that do not have internet access, we agreed that I could send in my comments to be read and entered into the record at these faux public meetings.  If Mr. Foster fails to read my comments properly, or fails to read my comments as he did for a recent public hearing, I may have to reassess my posture.

The public hearing to be held this evening was for the five-year recreation plan for the City of Ludington.  Never had I made a comment that effectuated so much instant change as this one did.  Part of this was because the drafted Recreation Plan had a host of problems that should have been obvious if anybody at city hall took a few minutes to proofread the document drafted by Community Development Director Heather Tykoski and compared it with what the state requires of recreation plans

This led to the city council passing a plan before them with 16 flaws (making you wonder if any of them critically looked through it), but to his credit, the city manager had Tykoski correct several of the flaws that afternoon which led to the since-amended recreation plan.  Here are my comments with brief notes as to their correction in the amended plan (the last ten were entered into the record without being read at the meeting).

XLFD:  (9:00 in) "A cursory review of the Recreation Plan found the following issues, please have the community development director correct them:

1) link at the City's website describes this as an RP for the years 2012-2025 rather than 2021-2025 [corrected]

2) No mention of the water trailhead or West End Project/Slab is in the inventory (even under Stearns Park) [still no mention]

3) No mention of the existing splash pad at Copeyon Park other than for planned fencing in the site development plan [still no mention]

4) Complete snub of existing private marinas as recreational boating facilities [added, but see below]

5) Complete snub of public PM Bayou boat launch and the harbor as recreational boating facilities [still snubbed]

6) Many expensive planned projects noted in inventory are left off of the capital improvement schedule [remains unchanged]

p. 1 Harbor View Marina is left off of being under direction of the city manager and council [unchanged]

p. 1 Municipal Marina Board is wrongly called the Municipal Marina Authority [unchanged]

p. 4-6 City Marina and Harbor View are wrongly labeled as public park and special use park types, they should be accurately represented as recreational boating facilities [unchanged]

p. 6 Text infers that Harbor View is still being privately leased but managed by the City [unchanged]

p. 7 The three lifeguard stations at Stearns have been removed and burned [unchanged]

p. 8 the 1996 handicap accessible pier at Copeyon Park has not been there for many years [unchanged]

p. 23 Stearns misspelled as Sterns [sentence removed]

p. 45 Organizational Chart is cut off on the right, shows City manager as superior to standing committees, which he isn't [more of the chart is now missing, CM still superior to committee]

p. 58-9 Transmittal letter to county/state officials dated 1-11-2021 soliciting comments for the plan the day it's considered and likely passed by city council [unchanged]

p. 63 Harbor View Marina listed as a private facility [unchanged]

[END comment]

If you were keeping score, they corrected a transposition, added one portion for private marinas and removed a portion with a spelling error therein.  The city manager and the city council ultimately accepted a plan that still had a lot of issues that makes the City of Ludington administration look like a bunch of rubes, allow me to illustrate further with a couple of snapshots, the first of the late-added private marina paragraph:

CDD Tykoski starts off capitalizing the 'p' in private as if it's a military rank, misspells "Thompson's", "Pier Pointe", misidentifies "Ray's Auto-Marine" as Karboski (misspelling Mr. Karboske's name in the process), leaves out "lake" in "PM Lake Lodge" and finally uses the word "verity" rather than use "variety" once again.  Seven mistakes in one paragraph could be expected of somebody in elementary school, but should it be expected from somebody who has over a dozen years in grant writing?

She then sends this letter to the county administrator where she adds a dozen extra 'spaces' for some unknown reason:

The plethora of mistakes throughout the recreation plan shows a high degree of laziness and/or incompetence in the current community development director.  The capacity of the city council and the city manager to forgive and unanimously pass on these mistakes without correcting them shows a higher degree of laziness and/or incompetence at their jobs.  Their inability to figure out why holding a public meeting at a facility that is not accessible to the general public only further reinforces that impression.

Perhaps they have figured out that they can be lazy and/or appear incompetent when they don't have to answer directly to the public as they siphon out even more taxes from them.

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Thanks, X for keeping track of this group of seemingly ignorant people. Who is responsible for correcting Heather's mistakes and if they are not corrected how can this information be accepted and put into the record. Almost every electronic gadget used for typing has some kind of spell checker, so there is no excuse for these kinds of mistakes. How can anyone take these people seriously. It's hard to believe they are responsible for running the City. Speaking of lifeguards, the video below has some bearing on that situation.

Do you know why Heather signs her letter Heather L-V Tykoski.

I am not psychoanalytically qualified to gauge why Heather signs her letter that way, but the initials indicate the genesis of her name over time.  Back when she was new to Ludington in 2007 she went with the last name Loney, in 2009 she was using Venzke-Loney, in 2012 she was using Venzke-Tykoski, in 2013 she was going by Venzke, and after that she was mostly just using Tykoski.  I thus surmise that the L-V Tykoski surname harkens to synthesizing and abbreviating Loney and Venzke into her last name.  

Ironically, the only time somebody on the web has referred to her as Heather Loney Venzke Tykoski has been me at the Ludington Torch in the past.

The lack of any meaningful proofreading or editing of her work remains a mystery to most from the private sector who know their career would be in jeopardy if they made such glaring mistakes in the course of their work, but remember:  she works for the government, her work product doesn't have to be that good because her peers do not expect much in the first place.

There's verity in your comment whether it is laziness or incompetence that makes for a Recreation Plan with many mistakes, and does anyone in the city or council really even care? It looks like the Recreation Plan was slapped together at the last minute from a copy of the last report. And that's why they don't like you, X--for pointing out their shortcomings. Maybe Heather is in the wrong (job) as detail and proofreading doesn't seem to be a forte, time and again. Give them a raise.

As far as the city creating a tresspass order on you and not Harbor Front Condo owners to have access to the clubhouse and swimming pool, maybe that is a grandfathered deal from the previous legalese, but it seems like a messy inequitable situation.

As far as the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned, if they allow other members of the public into this public facility but arbitrarily exclude me and others based on some illegal stratification of their own design, they have some very real problems beyond their frequent OMA violations.  

Every time they submit plans, grants, agreements, and applications, there seems to be some issue involved with process that makes it look unprofessional and unworthy of a caring and competent group of public servants.  I don't like to point fingers at Mitch Foster, but he's got to crack down to get better results from his crew.

She TALKS a good game, but most savvy people around Ludington have figured her out.

She actually is dumber than a box of rocks. It is not hard to surf the web to find out what other municipalities are doing and copy them. It is a classic move of people not suited for their job. She shows her lack of experience and intellect via many careless errors and missteps.

Once again, Ludington has a chance to find someone for that position that is trained in urban planning ( Hey folks that is a real thing at most reputable schools of Architecture) but they won't.

 You can put Caviar on Spam, but it is still Spam underneath.

Bless her little heart.

On the other hand, I believe Mitch is actually quite smart. I think in the beginning he wanted to change things up and wants to do what is right. I now believe that what he lacks most is COURAGE to stand up for ALL citizens. 

That takes intestinal fortitude , backbone and investment in a community long term. 

Perhaps Ludington is just a stepping stone for him so he is smart enough to play the game while here. Good for him and bad for us...

Great analysis and psychoanalysis, Lake Lady.  Foster needs to make more courageous decisions in the future to cement any sort of good legacy for himself, part of this would include vaccinating the tired old blood in the system that prevents meaningful change for the better from taking place.  That part would include blocking Spam before it brings down the system.  

 

The problem is that Mitch does not work for the voters. He works for the City Council. His loyalty lies with whomever is controlling the political soup du jour and that would be, as far as I can tell, the old guard which includes Henderson and his cronies along with the downtown crowd who are all supported by the LDN. If Mitch so much as crosses his eyes the wrong way he knows he's toast. This is why a City Manager is a bad system for the taxpaying citizens. I understand why a City Manager sounds like a reasonable idea but it does not help the citizens maintain a Democracy. Say for instance that the 1st  ward voters are unhappy with the CM and want him gone, the only way they can empower themselves is thru the ballot box and vote out their Councilor. But removing one Councilor does not get rid of the CM. That can only be done by the entire Council.

Mitch has been the one with the most compassion for the taxpayer, that I've seen in our government (mayor or councilor) in our recent regime since we lost our days of small town respect.  Mitch listens and wants input from the taxpayer to make a resilient community and I think would like to change things, but until the warmed-up soup of the years, is changed, I agree Willy, Mitch can't cross his eyes the wrong way or he'll lose favor with the groupthink.  With Henderson back in a position to force his ideas around, we may go back to carved out log sewers and never get rid of the lead goosenecks and patches on top of patched roads, and expend on gold carved bricks next for another renovation of the Town Rectangle (James Street Plaza) so they can cater to the tourist's beer parties under wooden arches and remember Native ancestors while warming their fingers on the taxpayer sponsored gas firepit.  

The trouble is, until the taxpayers make their voices heard, there will probably be little change and this blog is just a place to whine about the problems, and the city moles to figure out the strength of the mass. It seems Ludington has acted for years very much like the DNC (Democratic party) that has recently rigged the voting (sound familiar to Ludington?), suppressed truth ( locally years of violating the OMA, not noticing committee meeting times or minutes to keep people in the dark), censoring free speech (lying about and ridicule of XLFD--like saying there are no gooseneck lead pipes. But all of a sudden we are evaluating where they are by an expensive outside company and looking for money to fix the problem). So many other things X has brought up--has been supressed and censored and ganged up on like a big bully band of those afraid to face the truth.

The overbearing, secret-squirrel groupthink has intimated most anyone from speaking up. 250 hits on this blog in just a couple of days, and the almost 800 people who have signed into the Torch should start making their voices heard or the censorship, intimidation and the single-minded power hungry will remain focused on downtown to the neglect of the whole community. I hope the continuing water rate and tax hikes finally stir the voices, seeing how much is mismanaged and blown on downtown projects like the West End under water and Legacy Park the Third, and employee raises while most people are suffering with loss of income and work during Covid and having to pay more to supplement the City of Ludington.

Amen Freedom Seeker!

Once again you have connected all the dots and spoken the truth. There are a handful of us that actually use our voice to speak out, but it seems hundreds of others who use their eyes to read this blog. Perhaps if more people made their voices heard in the form of at least some validation to what they read here, it would be a very different community. 

Although we are often harsh with our words and critical of what is going on, deep down , we all really love Ludington and want to see her rise to the grandeur she deserves.

Rise up people ( in the old school constructive , non destructive way ) to help Ludington move forward with real pride and success into the future.

It is very hard in the "cancel " culture world, for sure, but maybe by demanding in person council meetings at large venues so we can show up in force, maybe we can nudge the current council into including us in their decisions. We need to start showing up , but they have made that virtually impossible  By design of course. Covid is their cover and we need to break away from that and not be afraid to speak and stand up.

It's hard to say thanks to your "Amen", LL, but I appreciate your understanding the pain.  It's all too sad a state of having lived it for too long a time in Ludington.  I was really shocked at the suppression, the censorship and ridicule upon the citizens by the City. 

A quote has been used a few times last week to summarize what's been going on with Trump.  I had not heard it before, but I guess it comes from George R.R. Martin, author of "Game of Thrones" ... "When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar,  you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say."  That, imo, epitomizes the way our city council, manager and past mayor has operated, (continued sometimes even now), and they had/have each other at six o'clock (military term meaning "having each other's backs").  "We must all speak the same thing mentality" and lie and deny if necessary. 

The "lie and deny" aspect, I give one example, remembering the "we have no lead goosenecks" in our water supply systems, but X uncovered quite a few when part of Fourth Ward got new plumbing on Sixth Street.  Still no real discussion or apology to the people of Ludington about lead goosenecks.  This is a city that wants to bury their heads in fun and glamor and deny infrastructure needs.

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