It should come as no surprise to those following Scottville politics that their agenda for Monday's meeting on the first day of February has the city commission poised to ratify a mutual separation agreement with their City Manager Courtney Magaluk.  What has been surprising is the amazing amount of secrecy attached to why they are doing it and how much it will cost the small town's citizens.  

                                                   Scottville Treasurer Kathy Shafer

Prior to the last meeting, the LT investigated some of the matters involved with this latest move, but Scottville leaders, primarily Acting City Manager(ACM)/Police Chief Matt Murphy and City Attorney Carlos Alvarado, have conspired to keep their initiated and long-completed investigation into Ms. Magaluk's job performance secret, denying any part of the records about the investigation from myself and the local newspaper, then holding a virtual closed session in an improperly held special meeting to allegedly discuss a written opinion from CA Alvarado.  

                                             Scottville City Attorney Carlos Alvarado

Whatever the investigation revealed, Ms. Magaluk has expressed an intention of moving on from Scottville, and no other Scottville official is indicating why she is, why they seem to be for the move, or why they are not disclosing those reasons to the public.  The citizens of Scottville are left in the dark in terms of motives, intrigues, reasons, and costs of this experiment in kakistocracy.

                                           Scottville Acting City Manager Matt Murphy

Further research has been inconclusive as to finding out anything that Ms. Magaluk did was improper or unlawful, yet the record shows that the members of the ad hoc Investigative Committee and its agents have committed a growing number of improprieties and lawless acts.  As noted here, Alvarado admits at least one meeting of this committee took place, indicates that several more informal meetings may have taken place, yet in his FOIA response to the newspaper stated minutes of those meetings of an official committee set up by the board did not exist. This and six other violations of the Open Meetings Act for every one of these meetings that happened outside of public cognition accrue to the City of Scottville due to their embrace of unlawful secrecy of a public body.

The FOIA requests for the investigation reports will be coming before the commission on Monday, but over the last two weeks I have made a few other requests to find answers that they are otherwise unwilling to give.  As expected these show more improprieties from the investigating authorities.

At the January 18th meeting, I asked a question at the end-of-meeting comment period of the commission as to who 'attended' the virtual closed session, they failed to answer that, nor was I able to get an answer to it when I asked it when requesting these other records.  They never answered me; I did find out that the newspaper re-asked that question to Mayor Marcy Spencer after the meeting and she noted that the commission, Alvarado, and Murphy were there.  

The OMA allows the public body to meet in closed session to consider material exempted by attorney-client privilege, Murphy is not a part of the public body, neither is he an attorney, he should not have been in this meeting unless he was invited to do so by the city commission; this wasn't done.  But this is the least of his worries as a look at Scottville's timesheets shows that his administration is bilking lots of money from Scottville taxpayers in a way contrary to their own policies and law.

Consider their personnel manual, p. 16 describing comp time:

 

The currently updated FLSA summarizes what it is to be non-exempt:

A glance at the payroll record before Chief Murphy became the ACM shows he made more than $684 per week and he was the police department supervisor-- he is not non-exempt by the FLSA and cannot gain comp time.  Murphy and Magaluk were the only employees of city hall that aren't non-exempt by the FLSA.

His first timesheet shows he not only was gaining comp time, but using it as well; these activities were not under City Manager Magaluk's review, you will note that the approval is given by Treasurer Kathy Shafer, who should know better.  The next timesheet shows that he took even more liberties with comp time after getting a major raise to ACM on Thanksgiving (the first Thursday):

Murphy's pay for working eighty hours jumped from $1368.03 to $2152.89 between these two pay periods; when he is even less able to consider himself non-exempt, he 'earns' 20 hours of comp time.  The last payroll I received has him using that comp time while working a week of half days, adding 61 and 16 and getting 80, all signed off by the treasurer:

Another issue in the personnel manual is overtime.  Overtime must be authorized by Magaluk or Murphy, and will be approved ONLY in emergency situations and non-routine projects and work:

 This policy under ACM Murphy's administration is not being followed among the non-exempt employees.  By way of example, Treasurer Shafer worked an hour of overtime on 3 separate days, neither instance of which was approved by ACM Murphy, neither was her payroll approved by him.  A commissioner's meeting is neither an emergency or non-routine.

Treasurer Kathy Shafer was hired by Scottville on a part-time basis by the City back in 2016 to assist then CM Amy Williams who did the treasurer work until then.  Each timesheet shows that she is working 40 hours with plenty of overtime over the last two months, I can find no record that she has ever been given a full-time position, a 2019 publication of the MML maintains the position was still part-time.  For the treasurer spot to become full time, the city commission would have had to approve it explicitly.

A comparison of the 2020 budget and 2021 budget shows that the line item for 'general government' which includes non-police city officer's wages jumps from $200,000 to $283,000, or over $73,000 more than what was originally forecast.  A 42% increase of wages for city hall staff is unexplained in the public records.  It was not explained when the latest budget was approved on June 1st, 2020.  Shafer was getting holiday pay for Christmas and New Years Eves and Days, and for some undeclared and unauthorized reason earned 7.5 hours of comp time on New Years and 2 more on Christmas Eve, and one hour of unauthorized overtime in another unauthorized timesheet:

This continuous lack of rigor and recent lack of oversight makes one believe that there may be a different city officer more responsible for making the City almost miss their revenue sharing report's deadlines than a city manager about to give birth.  One would think that a treasurer working full-time in a small town like Scottville, where the prior city manager did her job for decades, should have plenty of time to fill out the easily completed forms for revenue sharing.  This data is more in line with the treasurer's office.  

One is inclined to believe that the City's intentions to keep the investigation secret by not complying with the FOIA is to protect someone and/or their collective self.  A minor investigation by the Ludington Torch uncovers that ACM Murphy since his ascension, and even before, is asking for more remuneration than he is qualified for, that he's not overseeing the treasurer's timesheets to correct the errors.  He has been holding unlawful meetings, he has been at closed sessions that he was not invited to attend.

This minor investigation also uncovers the 'part-time' city treasurer padding her own timesheet with hours she is not authorized to have, collecting holiday pay she should not qualify for, approving payroll made by exempt employees that contain comp time, helping create a budget that pads the city hall payroll by 42% to accommodate, etc. 

If the investigation by Defective Aaron Sailor had any merit, he should be aware that the obvious abuse of the taxpayer's money appears not to be at the hands of Ms. Magaluk, but of the two employees currently handling the city's finances in her absence.  This was even noticeable back earlier in the summer when the commission voted to make Murphy the ACM when Ms. Magaluk was set to take maternity leave.  You will note that even then the city clerk noted that the details of Murphy's remuneration for being the ACM was to be decided out of the public eye-- at the committee level his pay rate would be finalized

Scottville committee meetings do not have to follow the OMA because they are supposedly advisory committees, not able to finalize decisions, like raising the chief's two week pay rate from $1368 to $2152. 

All these errors, all of these violations of laws and ethics are not being committed by a city manager whose only demerit against her so far is that she almost missed a deadline for submitting paperwork to the state which might have cost the City of Scottville 1/6 of their annual revenue sharing earnings (a little over $20,000).  Thank goodness we had a part-time treasurer to work 25 extra hours, receiving overtime and holiday pay in order to complete what should have taken her much less time:

  

The financial gains made by these insurgents, one of who is likely to change his ACM position into a full-time position due to his education in municipal management, likely pales in comparison to what City Attorney Alvarado has made throughout this period in attending meetings without minutes or notices, and battling FOIA requests of records that should be made available.  

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Seems the kids have found the checkbook wide open with extra checks. Courtney's misstep seems rather minor compared to the above read...   Thanks XLFD for looking out for the COS residents

Thanks for paying attention, I wish the best for Scottville citizens, my co-hometown.

So, what do you think is going on? Something illegal or someone trying to cover up embarrassing incompetence? Besides the original articles Has the LDN or Alway printed any thing else about this situation?  If anyone should be trying to find what is going on, you would think that, being the local press, Alway would be digging deeper into this. Do you know if Alway filed a FOIA regarding this situation? I bet the Scottville Commissioners are glad to see you showing up and reporting on what they have been up to. I also bet they won't ask you to be in the clown Band now.

I'm surprised that neither Heather Tykoski, Brandy Miller, nor John Henderson has yet decided to develop a Ludington Clown Band.  I think they are trying to portray it as incompetence or laziness by Magaluk, but since they are being sneaky about it, that portrayal is likely false, and it's all about something else they are trying to suppress-- hence they wouldn't allow Magaluk to talk in open session about it.  

The other news has nothing new, and don't expect anything coming from the MCP to be reliable as Alway is on the commission.  I am about to go virtually to tonight's meeting.

Seems the kids have found the checkbook wide open with extra checks. Courtney's misstep seems rather minor compared to the above read...   Thanks XLFD for looking out for the COS residents

The commission went into closed session to discuss this mutual separation agreement tonight, came out and voted for it, disclosing only that it would include a payoff of $15,000 to the departing city manager.  I unmuted myself and tried to ask whether the commission is ever going to come clean to the Scottville taxpayers on why they chose to spend $15K this way, rather than do everything in secret and allow people to speculate wildly on why their money was spent on a costly investigation and separation.  Commissioner Alway did tell us that once the public sees the investigation reports they may understand some of their actions.  I seriously doubt it.

They did authorize the release of the report, though I expect CA Alvarado will try to cover up the meaningful parts as he still claims the one exemption holds, a point which he did not make publicly.

The FOIA for the investigation report has finally been released along with responses by outgoing City Manager Magaluk.  I can't help but read this and see multiple problems starting with a police chief and treasurer who seem to be a lot less competent and professional than the person they're displacing.  Does anybody want to read the attached report and argue otherwise?

InvestigationReportMagalukResponse.pdf

Agreed. Looks a lot like the ol "pile on" tactic.

Commissioner Rob Alway (who had access to the investigation report and Magaluk's response) indicated at Monday's meeting that once the public got a look at the investigation they would better understand why they decided to part ways with Magaluk.  After seeing the points of the investigation and their general refutations by Magaluk, I do understand:  the City of Scottville is getting rid of the wrong person.  Mark these words:  the police chief and treasurer are robbing the town treasury blind and doing it secretively, dishonorably, and unlawfully.

The only thing I was going to add was.  What could only make this sh$t show any better is finding out the chief of police and treasure were involved romantically.  But once again X has out shined me.  Mine is pure speculation I might add.

If not for you X, I doubt this information would ever have seen the light of day. All parties involved with this smear of City Manager should be facing a lawsuit. Shame on them.

A special "shame on you" goes to Alway. He is such a damn fool. He also needs to be sued. Magaluk should have insisted on a public apology and also in writing.

1. Why was this a police investigation? Did the Council suspect that criminal behavior was involved?
2. This is a major conflict of interest. An acting City Manager requested the law enforcement agency that he was in charge of to investigate the existing City Manager when there was no evidence [by their own admission] of criminal activity. The investigation concerned an "almost" incident, and a "could be" reflection of job performance. That's like investigating someone who "almost" ran a stop sign or someone "could have" ran a stop sign.
3. How is it possible that  police officer Sailor has the knowledge and training to determine that there was a "pattern of inefficiencies" by the City Manager ?

Good points, X and Willy. After wearily reading the 12-page report, with many grammatical irregularities, I find Maguluk's responses articulate and often make more sense than the inquiry.
Except for her not answering timely the Nov. 6 email reminder to complete the Report, I find little fault except the seeming personality clash between her and the Treasurer and the COP. I can just imagine the Treasurer didn't want the extra work dropped on her desk while Maguluk was gone not only due to a toddler with a fever, but the preparing for birth and maternity leave. The investigation bolsters my first comment, "it's really hard being a young parent with a young family and having responsiblity of managing a city. Sorry, one notch down for MML promoting women in their city manager positions. Call me sexist if you wish, but I see that rub between personalities as a catalyst for the pile-on witchhunt because the commission maybe saw a trend and wanted her out. Maguluk did request a closed-session evaluation at least in one part of the report, so hence maybe a lot of the secrecy of the FOIA. At least they were consistent in denial.

Whether the treasurer and COP can justify the hours in filing the report should now be investigated. What bothers me, in one place Maguluk says "it was a five minute" job so she stopped by the office ... maybe I don't understand exactly to what she was referring, but I do see neglect between Nov. 6 and Nov. 23 in doing "a five minute job."  Then, just do it, and there wouldn't have been a problem.

Too many excuses over covid not being in the office and FMLA, and maybe dumping off her responsiblities on the Treasurer, imo, caused this young city manager to lose her job in Scottville.

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