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Corporation counsel to hear village oath issue

February 02, 2011 - Goodrich- A former village council member said he will continue a challenge of a procedural issue regarding the election of Councilman Doug McAbee.

David Lucik has appealed a dispute to the Genesee County Clerk Michael Carr after McAbee failed to sign the oath of office document within 10 days of the date the he was notified of his election to office. The law is specified by the Charter of Goodrich.

"About a month ago I contacted the Genesee County Clerk regarding the issue and requested a legal opinion," said Lucik. "He (Carr) requested a summary of the issue from me and referred the matter to the corporation counsel."

The counsel is an attorney who acts on behalf of the Genesee County on civil matters and serves as legal advisor to the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and all county departments.

McAbee won the election in November, unseating Lucik and former council president Ed York. In addition, newcomer Phil Jackson and incumbent Rick Horton were also elected.. Lucik said he acted on a rumor that McAbee did not sign the oath and sent a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to the village for the information regarding the violation.

"It's kind of scary,"said Lucik. McAbee's voted on a variety of issues and those votes may not even be legitimate. You just can't bury your head in the sand—some law judge is going to have to decide this issue. I do want to get back in office—I wish those in office cared about the community as much as I do."

McAbee, told the council and about 50 in attendance at the Dec.13 meeting that he did receive the documentation required from Village Clerk Patricia Schierup; however, he failed to sign the form and return it to the village offices. The signatures on the oath, which is prescribed for public officers by the Michigan Constitution, is necessary to take the office, or in this case, the village council seat. If the oath is not signed, according to the section, the office is vacant unless the council by resolution extend the time in which the officer may sign. Horton, Jackson and Morey signed the oath.

"Just because the election was certified does not change anything," said Lucik. "There's still a cloud over that election."

Following the disclosure, village president Patrica Wartella called a recess halting the meeting for about 30 minutes while Schierup went upstairs and printed a copy of the oath document. She returned and McAbee signed the form during the meeting.

Jack Belzer, new village attorney who attended the Dec.13 meeting, called the matter just an administrative internal glitch and did not see anything that deters him (McAbee) from being a councilmember. "I'm confident with him (McAbee)—he did what he should do. When you take the oath of office, which he did—it's an internal administrative thing."

At the Jan.11 village council meeting, Lucik asked McAbee to "please step down and solve the matter internally," during the public comment session of the meeting.

The request was denied by McAbee.

Wartella received a written request to discuss the issue at the next village council meeting.

"This issue will not be on the Feb. 14 village council agenda," said Wartella, following a request from Richard Saroli. "There's nothing to be discussed. The oath was an administrative error of the Village Clerk Patricia Schierup and Village Administrator Jakki Sidge—they set him up intentionally. I was never notified that Doug needed to sign the oath. Those two had every opportunity to make sure the oath was signed—Doug is working with the DPW and around the village offices everyday—why did they not tell him? These proceedings will impact their jobs, not Doug's. Let democracy work."

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