Ludington City Council Meeting, May 8, 2017: Serving the Mayor, Twice

The agenda for the May 8, 2017 Ludington City Council meeting was rather light on issues.  Beyond a rather routine retirement agreement between the City and long term employee Julie Ledger, the only thing being presented were three communications involving the AAUW Book Sale putting signs in the street right-of-way and a couple of proclamations regarding youth activities. 

One of those was a proclamation in support of lemonade stands to fund childhood cancer campaign, so hopefully the local police won't be asking for vending permits on June 3rd, when these stands will go up by our enterprising youths.  The other, which took up about the first twenty minutes of the meeting, had to deal with Girl Scout Troop #4688 and recognizing their achievements.

You may recall the red, white, and blue barrels around town last year with toy soldiers in, used to make us remember our troops, both active and retired.  For this and other community services, they were awarded the "President's Volunteer Service Award" and are headed to Washington DC this summer (or fall) to attend a White House event to be honored.  On May 19 between 6 and 8 PM, down at the Ludington Area Center of the Arts, there will be a ceremony to present these young ladies with their award.  

The balding daisy scout (third from the left) from Manistee is not likely to be in attendance.  Starting at the 21:00 mark, the council heard public comment from a couple of Tom's.  I started the process by giving my comment about the lead situation, as noted here (The Ludington Lead Challenge of May 2017). 

May 9, 2017 Ludington City Council meeting from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

When Mayor Holman accepted the dare, you will hear Councilor Castonia saying "You don't know what he put in it" and echoed by City Manager Shay, to which she replied:  "I'm not afraid of Tom."  The other non-verbal reactions are worth a look, as well as Holman saying to a sighing Shay:  "If there's anything in here that hurts me, I'll haunt him."

Tom Tyron's remarks just after talked about a couple of irritating things the city was lax in correcting:  "...speak to the signs in the right of way.  I know you grant them pretty often; the only thing I'd like to state is it's almost an enabler for other people to put up signs.  It seems that every time we get signs in the right-of-way, I wind up with a bunch of yard sale signs in my right of way.  I've thrown away so many signs I'm tired of it.  So, I think if you have a sign ordinance you ought to enforce it.  I'm a little bit tired of people abusing my private property, putting the signs up.  And I don't care if you say it's the right-of-way; I pay the taxes on it, I keep it and maintain it.

Another thing, I wish you would fix these blinking lights, they're driving me nuts."

In truth, at least one light has been flickering on and off just off the city clerk's desk for the last couple of meetings that has been at least distracting.  His comments on the signs is spot on; if a property owner hasn't agreed to have signs in their right-of-way, they should have the option of disposing of them in whatever manner they want, unfortunately the city leaders try to drill into our heads that the right-of-way somehow is under their full control-- except when it's election time and their government pro-expansion candidates are in non-compliance.

The committee reports went by quick leading up to my comment at 33:00 into the meeting:

"Nearly 50 days ago, this city council denied a FOIA administrative appeal of a determination to charge nearly $2500 for the police report about the disappearance of Baby Kate made by myself.  A reasonable person might think a police report of a six year old case with someone sitting in prison for murder as a result of the findings would be publicly available and would not require a police detective to spend 100 hours, almost 13 eight hour days, looking through the report to determine whether some parts may be invasive of personal privacy.  The city attorney even freely admitted the law plainly said this 100 hour search was an exercise that was entirely optional.

A reasonable person would not expect such a report, even with supplemental additions, to amount to 2750 pages.  It's just not believable, it's a police report not weeks of court transcripts I'm seeking.

Likewise, a reasonable person might expect a straight answer from the stewards of these public records as to whether some of these records exist or not.  That duty has been put aside, in order to further a narrative that suggests they don't want these records made public; as if the $2500 price tag wasn't evidence enough of their intentions.   

So please do not be surprised that tonight I am serving you a civil action detailing two counts of this public body violating the Freedom of Information Act and your duties to the public.  The people expect their records to not be kept from them through semantics, unlawful charges, or improper exemptions levied by their authorities who have had a tarnished record themselves of secrecy, corruption and charging too much.   We need to expect more, we shouldn't have to take you to court for you to do the right thing, when the right thing to do is so obvious.  Thank you."

You may have noticed the redhead in black slinking over to give Mayor Holman a 'chaser' to her earlier drink shortly after I said "serving you a civil action".  That was the initial process service of the lawsuit I brought to your attention over the weekend (A Trail Littered with Lies: FOIA Lawsuit for Baby Kate Police Repor...).  The City of Ludington will have three weeks to file their answer, and with any luck, I will draw a fair judge, since Susan Sniegowski's husband has worked for decades with the Ludington DPW, not to mention her own employment thereof prior to becoming a judge, and should disqualify herself.

Remarkably, even with two COLDNews reporters and the WMOM reporter at this meeting, the public was never told that once again their city government was being sued for keeping records from the public unlawfully, until now.   

They ended the night by having the mayor and city manager discuss future goal-setting sessions for the council, and to have something concrete about it by the next meeting.  I am always amazed by how these always seem to wind up with the city trying to creatively extract more money from the citizens to fund projects that the citizens would rather not have.  Sigh, this is Ludington, pass some more of that funky water.

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Now, here goes Mayor Holman again, at the 39:09 minute mark. Well, she wants to discuss charging entry fees again at Stearns Park. The issues had been tabled at the April 5 mtg., with almost all in attendance not wanting it. Only about a month later now, and she wants to get it aboard for motions and votes on the matter. Shameful, and disgusting all the way around. Of course Shyster Shay had to correct her, and include other camoflage of other ideas and issues to include with that. But, as Holman stated here, "it's our city and we need to talk more about this and get it settled", paraphrasing. She just doesn't get it, and I also heard noise in the background of people sighing and booing lightly. Wth, I could have expected this much later in toward the end of the year, but right now again? Also, another great job X, you got their attention on the lead goose-neck and tainted tap water, surprised Holman took any challenge, but what about ALL the others that declined? Something in that water isn't right, and they all know it too, and just ignore it now. Very STUPID and DANGEROUS.

It's too bad that Mayor Holman's sense of wanting to talk more about issues doesn't include the issue of lead in the water.  As more streets in the Fourth Ward get tore up to put in new water lines we find a whole lot of severely rusted galvanized pipes consistent with plumbing during the time period where lead gooseneck connectors were used.  The contractors have been mostly diligent with getting the lead out of the ground discretely, cutting them and separating them from the other pipes, but my eyes and cameras have seen a lot more lead being mined and replaced.

Replacement is a great thing, but one of the things that distresses me is that too much of the older parts of the city are likely to still have goosenecks when all of this current upgrading gets done, and I hate seeing my fellow citizens use their city water in confidence when they are ignorant of these three foot gooseneck pipes pointing directly at their home, ready to zap the next generation with their poison.

It's the lead talking Aquaman. Instead of settling only in her brain, much of it has migrated to her tongue which causes an incessant blabbering of nonsense and unwanted ideas.


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