Village council meets—again
December 01, 2010 - Goodrich- The Nov. 8 village council meeting featured new council members, resiginations and terminations, sparking countless verbal volleys across the community.
It all came just a few days too early.
That village council meeting—the first after new council members Doug McAbee and Phil Jackson ousted incumbent council president Edmund York, along with Dave Lucik, following the Nov. 2 election—was conducted prior to the certification of the election by the Genesee County Clerk's Office on Nov. 16.
So on Tuesday night, a speical council meeting to redo the actions of the Nov. 8 meeting was conducted at the village offices.
"The items (at the Nov. 8 meeting) were null and void," said Patty Wartella, who was again elected council president by a 3-2 vote, replacing Ed York, with council members Pete Morey and Rick Horton voting no. "There is no other reason for us to hold this meeting other than the original agenda."
As in the first meeing, the board discussed the replacement of long-time village attorney Thomas McKenney with Flint attorney F.Jack Belzer.
Village resident and defense attorney Jay Clothier, who spoke during public comment, suggested opening up the village attorney position to a bid item. "I'm deeply concered by the three of you (Wartella, McAbee and Jackson) making this decision," he said. "Why Jack Belzer? Open it up to a bid rather than you three making the decision—there might be a better attorney than your guy. This could cost the village more—you represent all the people in the village."
Councilman Horton also expressed concern over the recommendation.
"In additon to Jack, we should ask other attorneys to our council meeting," said Horton. "This would give the attorneys a chance to see if they are interested in our village—after all they are paid for by us. I have no clue who Jack Belzer is. McKenney has been our attorney for 20 years—I'm not against the new (attorney) it's just a poor decision."
Councilman Petee Morey agreed.
"I think we should interview him (Belzer)," he said. "The change could be very costly for the village you're looking at $10,000 to $25,000 and if you're not prepared you could really lose. Over the past few years we had three lawsuits against the village and won them all (with McKenney)."
The arguments did not sway Wartella.
"I nominate Jack Belzer as our village attorney," she said. "I believe he will represent our village well. I've dealt with Belzer in the past," said Wartella, who made the motion for the change. "He (Belzer) is the attorney for Mundy Township. I knew I wanted to work with an attorney that I trusted.
The council voted 3-2, with Morey and Horton voting no to hire Belzer as the new village attorney.
Following the resignation of village code enforcer Bill Conley on Oct. 26, Wartella made a motion to hire Atlas Township Code Enforcer John Hart on an interim basis. An advertisment for the position was listed in the Nov. 27 edition of The Citizen.
"You want an interim code enforcer for $11 per hour," said Morey. "But we hire an attorney that no one knows anything about?"
The board agreed to seek resumes and interview prospective candidates for the postion over the next two weeks with a recommendation at the Dec.13 village council meeting.
The board had also moved to replace village street administrator and council member Pete Morey with new council member Doug McAbee at the Nov. 8 meeting. Morey had walked out of the meeting—stating he was resigning from the council. However, Morey said he did not put the action in writing and stayed on with the council.
"I would like to see if (Doug McAbee and Pete Morey) you two can work together," said Wartella. "You (Morey) have a lot of insight. I do think you are an asset to the community. The change is for the positive."
"Yes—I'll do it for the people,"he said. "I put a program in place here when I started."
Morey, who adjusts the dam for the Goodrich Mill Pond, said maintenance and regulation is vital for the community to keep the water level in check.
"You also have to work with that damn dam. If it rains three inches in Ortonville you know it's (the water's) coming."
Morey will also still manage the Goodrich Department of Public Works employees.
Councilmen Phil Jackson said that a representative of Plante Moran will attend the Dec. 13 meeting to discuss an independent study for the village.
"The cost of the study to look at debt service, DPW and salaries of the village is peanuts," said Jackson.
In addition to Plante Moran—Jackson said that Yoe & Yoe and Fromholtz, Paauwee were contacted regarding the survey.