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Guest Viewpoint, By Cory Johnston

Johnston turns to county, state

July 02, 2014 - Everyone should have the right to bring issues they believe important to the attention of their government. This should be even more obvious when the issues are about public safety and responsibilities. That is what a government is for, to represent the people and protect their health, safety and welfare. When citizens exercise that right, they are entitled to a principled response from their government, and that response cannot be to question their motives, their state of mind or to make unfounded allegations. 

Instead of this, the City of the Village of Clarkston Manager has made comments about me in writing which were highly inappropriate, unfounded, meant to do harm, discredit, and she has continued on with a vendetta against anyone who challenges her. Unfortunately, it seems our city government doesn't care.

Since the City Manager has falsely accused me of harassment, stalking, threatening violence to her family and mental illness, I think I'm entitled to request the city stop ignoring this issue. At the risk of upsetting even more people than I already have, I am going to state the city manager is less than truthful. She withholds information, misinforms, denies and then says she works at the direction of the City Council. I can find nothing in the public record where the Council directed the City Manager to do any of this but I also can't find where they have done anything about it.

After months of requests to the city, fees, and delays, the city clerk was unable to find any evidence to support the City Manager's allegations. She could find nothing about me at all in the city records which is odd since it was alleged I was stalking and harassing the City Manager by email. The City Manager has not denied she wrote these false allegations, she has not defended her actions, nor has she apologized which, along with a retraction, is all I originally asked for.

What has been revealed in addition to the inexcusable actions of the city manager is the city is not following the requirements of Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. Even more troubling, The Clarkston News reported that the City Manager deleted city records, a violation of city policy, state laws and perhaps the reason the clerk can't find information. Meetings have been improperly noticed, city records may or may not be available depending on who you are, and unbudgeted expenses are approved on a regular basis. The city council goes along with all of this as if none of it matters.

It is obvious to me the intent of the City Manager's comments was to do harm, to discredit anyone who challenges her and to discourage people from employing their constitutional rights. If there is another reason, the City Manager is not saying, nor is the City Council.

The first amendment of our Federal constitution, the Michigan Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act all guarantee access to government information and the ability to challenge our government's actions. These democratic principles continue to decline in our city and that will no doubt continue as their appears to be little interest to do better.

I have been told I should provide a solution instead of simply complaining. The solution is that the people must demand something better. Isn't that why we are a city, so we can have greater local control? There are better governments, policies and procedures so it is not like we need to create something from nothing. It will take more than a City Council that only shows up for meetings to blindly approve whatever is put in front of them.

My attorney recommends I sue the city since the City Manager is obviously in the wrong and every week brings new evidence the city cannot act in a proper or legal manner. Although I believe we would prevail, it seems like a waste of everyone's time and money since it is highly unlikely the city will change. They never have after losing many past court battles. They simply spend the taxpayers' money on legal fees and fines and then continue on as if nothing happened.

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 an honest, legal and proper manner. It is clear to me the government of the Village of Clarkston doesn't and also does not have the moral or ethical resources to care.

Amendment I to the Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From The Michigan Freedom of Information Act:

It is the public policy of this state that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.

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