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Apology sought from city manager



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March 05, 2014 - City resident Cory Johnston wants a public apology for comments made about him by Clarkston City Manager Carol Eberhardt.

Johnston sought legal council from Southfield attorney Fred Butters because he believes Eberhardt's comments could damage his reputation and professional career.

Eberhardt said in an email to The Clarkston News, Feb. 13, several people had come to Clarkston City Hall and "expressed concern over Johnston's mental state."

"Given the history of The Clarkston News and the platform the paper has given him, I decided to completely remove myself from anything associated with the paper, or participate in anything that in some way encourages Cory's continued harassment through email and stalking," Eberhardt's e-mail said.

The email was published in the CNews on Feb. 19.

Butters sent the city a letter requesting the apology and retraction he believes should have arrived at City Hall by Feb 24. According to Butters, the request is required by law before proceeding with a slander lawsuit. Butters also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any information relevant to Eberhardt's claims Johnston stalked and harassed her.

Butters believes his client has done nothing but exercise his rights as a citizen.

"When you are an elected or appointed official, public comment is something you must deal with," Butters said. "It's part of the job.

"No matter who you are, I always advise clients to beware of what you say and write," he added. "You just don't say or write anything that you wouldn't be comfortable with everyone seeing."

Butters noted FOIA dates back to the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. The current Michigan FOIA law is Act 442, signed into effect in 1976.

In part it states, "to provide for public access to certain public records of public bodies; to permit certain fees; to prescribe the powers and duties of certain public officers and public bodies; to provide remedies and penalties; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts."

The city had until Tuesday, March 4 to respond to Johnston's request, request an extension or deny it all together.

Eberhardt said the city has received no such FOIA request, and that she is waiting for direction of the council before deciding how to proceed with a public apology.

Johnston's attorney advised him to wait for a response from the city before any further comment.

When Clarkston City Council was asked for their response regarding the request for a public apology only council member Peg Roth and Michael Sabol responded.

Sabol said he will have no comment on the issue until he sees the document requesting a public apology. Roth said Johnston should get an apology.

"Yes, I certainly think he deserves one. Making an accusation like that about Cory is ridiculous and would almost be laughable if it weren't so nasty," she said. "Do I think she will apologize? No."

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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