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State investigation started

Resident wants state check into 'Clarkstongate'

July 23, 2014 - After he was told Oakland County prosecutor's declined to pursue charges, Cory Johnston of Clarkston thought legal issues he has with the city manager were over.

"I have spent $2,500 on legal fees," he said. "I am not spending anymore, and I am done with the city. I do think I have a civil case. I think I would win, but I do not have the resources to fight the city."

Johnston filed a police report with the Oakland County Sheriff Office regarding Freedom of Information Act violations and deletion of city records.

Independence Township Lieutenant Dirk Feneley, Independence Township substation commander, said the information was forwarded to the county's Special Investigative Unit, which investigates public corruption.

Johnston was told by an investigator the matter was civil and not criminal, and the case is closed.

"I hate Clarkston, and I want to sell my house and move out of here," Johnston said. "The city and its officials can just get away with whatever they want, with no repercussions."

Johnston is known for regularly sending lengthy and frequent complaints to city officials in regards to many issues from how quickly sidewalks were cleared after record breaking snowfall in wintertime to action taken in regards to a bridge in Depot Park-among several other issues. Johnston said the city also improperly notifies the public about meetings, records are unavailable and unbudgeted expenses are approved regularly.

Johnston alleged city officials ignored his complaints, violated FOIA laws and withheld records.

In February, Eberhardt implied Johnston's communications with her were excessive and scary. After comments were published in The Clarkston News, Johnston sought legal council to deal with what he claimed was false accusations of harassment, stalking, mental illness and threatening violence. Johnston said he felt Eberhardt's comments would hurt his reputation and his career as a self-employed engineer.

Sources confirmed records, considered to be public, were destroyed after Johnston's attorney requested relevant documents backing Eberhardt's claims. A FOIA was underway when the records were allegedly deleted. No documents, which included complaints about city matters, were produced.

Johnston said he is shocked city council never addressed or acknowledged any issues he complained about, or that they did not distance themselves from Eberhardt's comments.

"The city council goes along with all of this as if none of it matters," he said.

Johnston said many times all he wanted was an apology. After waiting months and not receiving one, he went to authorities so they could investigate if any laws were broken.

In the July 2 edition of The Clarkston News, Johnston said he had turned information over to police.

"I am going to turn over what I have to the Oakland County Sheriff and Michigan State Police to see if they think it is worth investigating. I have no idea what they will do but one way or another we will find out if anyone cares if a government behaves in a honest, legal and proper manner," he said.

Eberhardt, was asked to comment on this story, but did not respond.

Early this week Johnston said a detective from Michigan State Police informed him they are taking the case.

Johnston, who refers to the issue as "Clarkstongate," said he is just waiting to see what state police will do with the issue.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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