Some people mistakenly refer to our form of government as a democracy, but this is not accurate. Each level of our government happens to conform to the definition of a constitutional republic. A constitutional republic is a system in which a democratically elected representative government is bound by a written, legal document that defines its powers and limits.
This is evident at the national level as the US president and all seats of the legislature are elected and expected to follow and support the US Constitution. Governors and state legislatures follow their own state constitutions. Local governments representing county, township, city, and village interests generally have the same format defined by state law and given some latitude by their own documents describing their powers and their limitations called charters.
The City of Scottville is a Home Rule City as defined by state law and has drafted a charter to best serve itself and follow the direction of its citizens. If those elected representatives choose not to follow the lawful directions found in the charter, the whole system breaks down. Scottville government is broken, and they confirmed that at their meeting on 9-25-2023.
The agenda packet for the meeting gave no indication that the City was broken as it showed four items of regular business was to take place, including the city's only ordinance of the year so far. Of course, that would have never been an ordinance had the city took the advice of their attorney from Mika Myers, Mark Nettleton, who originally put it forth as a resolution, and failed to listen to the free consultant from Ludington who told them they were doing it wrong.
That consultant turned briefly into insultant during the first public comment. Scottville may be nicknamed Clowntown, but their city commission shouldn't be living that role. The small city of about 1300 people is spending big even in comparison to the City of Ludington's standards. They are failing to use products they spend a lot of money on. I told them that as the only speaker during the first comment:
XLFD: "I would like to comment on Scottville's rental inspection program as it pertains to the ordinance under consideration. The City has contracted with an outside firm to conduct rental inspections at a rate reported around $65,000 a year. This is an incredible rate when you compare it with the cost Ludington bears for the same services, a city more than 5 times the size of Scottville pays less for their rental inspections. I guess this shouldn't be too surprising, since the arrival of Scottville's new lawyer firm, your attorney always seems to bill more per month for attorney fees plus retainer than Ludington.
It seems like mismanagement by the current administration to me, and that diagnosis becomes clearer when you look at the city's website. Over the last four months, staff has put out commission packets, that's good. But they have a section linking to other documents, and they are nowhere to be found. Old agendas, minutes and budgets are not available, not even the current budget. 404 error, file not found. Zoning maps, FOIA request forms, all forms for that matter. File not found.
That this has lasted for four months without being remedied even when this small city is already overstaffed with three full time office workers at city hall speaks of laziness and incompetence in doing probably the most important part of their job: keeping the public informed. Can City Manager Newkirk explain why the city website that citizens pay good money to maintain each year, is not being maintained by staff?" [END comment]
Ludington's rental inspection costs over the last 6 years, averaging approximately half of what Scottville's now does for five times the units!
If you are a Scottville citizen looking at these crazy numbers. how can you not be asking the same questions I am? Are you scared of city officials who blatantly ignore the city charter not being constrained in coming after you? Or have you thrown in the towel, knowing that the clowncil (with only two of the sitting commissioners having been elected to their spot) and their clique of clown princes and princesses at city hall will just abuse their authority and waste more of your tax money as they ignore your city's laws and find new ways to extract money from your pocketbooks? It will only get worse if you continue to let this happen.
I would once again point out the lawbreaking done by the impostor posing as Scottville's mayor and the infamy that begat her late last year, done by the clowncil's two elected commissioners. But before I did that the reports and business of the meeting happened.
The city manager, police chief, clerk, County Commissioner Steve Hull, and Rural Fire Authority chief gave updates in their departments, most interesting was the water-main project update, and first responder units for a couple rural FDs.
A public hearing was held to hear any citizen comment on the ordinance adopting the latest International Property Maintenance Code to be used for rental inspections and clarified who could conduct such inspections in a later resolution. Former Mayor Bruce Krieger questioned the city on who exactly is going to be doing code enforcement when they only have one police officer for the city. The city passed the ordinance shortly thereafter without an answer.
Assessing services had been put up for bids and three people applied with the pay rate understood: Connie Anderson, Jessica Johnson, and Greg Barnett, the current assessor. The qualifications of each candidate were not provided in the packet, but the clowncil decided to follow City Manager Jimmy Newkirk's recommendation to hire Jessica Johnson, the least experienced and lowest level assessor of the bunch. The clowncil voted unanimously to hire her solely on that opinion.
This is a worrisome move, as there was no reason given during the discussion as to why they would choose the unproven candidate with the barest resume and release a long serving city assessor in Greg Barnett and look over the experience and honesty that Ms. Anderson offered. One can infer that the irascible city manager wanted higher assessments from somebody who he thinks may be less scrupulous than the current officeholder. Jessica may not be the best-looking candidate on paper, but the 27-year-old woman seems to be the best-looking candidate in Newkirk's eyes.
The brilliance of the DPW was on full display just after this. They have allowed a massive brush pile to accumulate behind their building on east First Street, and now city leaders will have to move the pile to Ludington seven miles west to be burned at Ludington's First Street dumping area at a large cost: $14,500.
Rather than discuss what idiot allowed it to get to this point, discuss how they might creatively reuse or recycle the material to their advantage and at a lower cost, or even how they could prevent this costly mistake from happening again in the future, they made a simple vote and Scottville is $14,500 poorer for their bad management.
The second comment period started and Bruce Krieger wondered whether the speed-radar sign could be moved to monitor the speeds on South Main rather than on State Street where it had been. Interim Chief Katrina Skinner told him that every time she has did speed enforcement at the river hill, she hasn't had much luck. And then it came to my turn to point out the center of the problem that Scottville currently faces, it lies within the commission, and it lies within their fealty to the constitutional republic they effectively say a pledge to at the front of each meeting:
XLFD: "I brought my placards once again to remind this clowncil that you are violating your oaths of office to the Michigan Constitution and your duties under the Home Rule Cities Act and the city charter by allowing an unlawful intruder into your midst and allow her to serve as the city's make-believe mayor. Half of you weren't serving back in last year's No-Shame November, when the city manager and an immoral pair of clowncilors named Aaron and Darcy along with an unscrupulous city attorney kneecapped the business of the city and played an unethical game unbecoming their offices. Your actions taken then (meaningful stares at the two clowncilors and city manager) will define your political career, your inaction on publicly confessing to the infractions and seeking absolution only confirms your innate corruption.
The three newest commissioners, appointed this year, only get more tainted the longer they let the charade of make-believe mayor Spencer's legitimacy continue. The city charter is clear and unequivocal, the position that Spencer now holds should have been put to a special election, the unethical conduct you engaged in No-shame November guaranteed that. Consider: (I then read verbatim the four sections of the charter that incontrovertibly shows she was appointed to her position as clowncilor 44 days after the vacancy was created. At that point, the position could only be filled by a special election).
The audience, populated by city employees, Spencer's husband, and Krieger, had no more comments, but the three recently appointed commissioners I challenged to support their oaths (Al Deering, Randy Wyman, and Dixie Spore) all spoke in support of the make-believe mayor, asserting her legitimacy without explaining why, other than they believe the city attorney's opinion that she was legitimately appointed.
Funny, these officials were all appointed since I made a FOIA request back in January for the attorney's opinion on filling the vacancies that Spencer and Rob Alway entered into illegally (from my legal perspective) and this was my response that claimed the opinion was covered by attorney-client privilege:
I am confident that his analysis of the opinion being subject to A-C privilege then was inaccurate and that nobody ever invoked such privilege regardless, but now that it seems that he shared that opinion with the three newer commissioners when he never shared it with the full commission when he made it (according to my conversations with former commissioners) weakens his already weak privilege claim to being ludicrous.
Scottville will have its share of challenges even with a responsible and accountable city government, but right now you have a city manager and city attorney willing to sacrifice the good of the city for political ends back in November, the two elected clowncilors forever tainted with that scandal and their lack of contrition since, and three new commissioners quickly becoming clowncilors by accepting the hollow opinion of an overpaid, overly corrupted city attorney over the easy to understand words of the city charter. I love Scottville so much, however, that I will continue to attend their meetings and hammer away at the anvil of the usurper and her misled minions.
Thanks for the information X. Wouldn't renting a chipper for a couple hundred dollars create a nice mulch mound out of that pile of brush?. It could reduce the brush pile down to 10% or less 0f it's volume. Then a few strokes of a rake could spread the material in quick order. I think you are correct. This is not a City Commission who has the capacity for creative thinking.
The best overall woodchipper according to Popular Mechanics is $725, add the same amount for labor (since Scottville DPW doesn't want to do anything) and the City of Scottville would need to come up with $1450 to do this, or 1/10th of what they wanted to spend. I know a person that would do this for free if they got the end product. Better yet, they would have a heck of a lot of wood mulch to use or sell and a slightly used woodchipper in their possession that they can use for years so that they never have this problem again, provided their DPW spends a little time doing their actual job.
It's illustrative of the lack of economic sense and leadership I pointed out with my first comment. One could also do a burn, as you indicate, they already have a burn pile. But then you'd have to explain to these Brainiacs that they should do that during the winter, so it won't spread to the nearby forests.
Burning is the best option after the snow cover is here. Could hire someone to burn it and push it up a few times while it burns. Chipping after is sits for years probable a lot of rotted material which would make it very hard to separate. By hauling it then it becomes a big expense and not allowing any dumping of brush in the future at DPW which is what seems to be what it desired. There has been a small tree laying all summer in the sidewalk on the river hill people are laughing about how the DPW crew drives by it daily all summer long and it still lays there, must be no room for it on the brush pile. lol Enough for now..
You are correct of course, there will be a core of material partially composted and unable to be chipped. Fire up the rest and offer it to area farmers.
Nothing to do with brush, fire, or the man in the moon. Only has to do with turning a free service of getting rid of brush into a pay to play benefitting the COS who are all benefited by tax dollars already from the residents of COS. And if I am correct no employees live within the COS, but these are the ones making decisions for the residents to pay more..