Matt Stapleton was absent again this month.
INITIAL PUBLIC COMMENT
County Commissioner’s Report: Marcia Stobie said the commission had approved a budget of $10,179 for marine patrol. Marine patrol is usually funded by a grant from the Department of Transportation, but because it’s an election year things are being held up in Washington; the county doesn’t know when the grants are going to come in so they had to make a budget transfer in order to start parying the bills. The 911 system is operational; one piece of equipment did have to be replaced a year sooner than expected. The commission was holding a series of budget meetings and working on union contracts. The final budget will be ready in September. Health care premiums for county employees will increase. The Council on Aging had met with the home health care people and the commissioners to discuss the upcoming restore-and-renew millage. The commission is asking for public support for this millage on the ballot in August. The Council on Aging has a new budget, about $968K; $659K of that comes from the millage. The Commission on Aging (the government entity, as opposed to the Council, which is the contracted service provider) seeks to fund home health care at about the $45K they requested last year; formerly they got about $9K from the millage. “We want to increase it because of the valuable service that they provide.” The Chamber of Commerce is also supporting the millage. Of the 1,600 veterans in Benzie, 300 or 400 are thought to be going to Traverse City for services; the commission would like to provide more for them here beyond the usual money for home repairs or utility bills, especially now that soldiers are returning from overseas. Veterans services are covered through another millage already in place.
Fred Forsyth, a homeowner along the bluffs, said he was at a recent council meeting and a beach meeting of a couple of years ago. “I heard from Mrs. Jenks that over the Fourth you were unable to get any signs up. So one of our homeowners had some printed up and put them on the beach. I think with some success. We saw one or two cars get as far as the sign and turn around and go back. The signs said because of beach erosion, no motorized vehicles. So we still have the signs further down in our area, not near where the road ends, but closer to the Conservancy property [Elberta Dunes Park]. I’m here to ask if anything is happening on this issue. I know two months ago Matt Stapleton suggested there might be an ordinance coming.”
Diane Jenks: “We are still working on it. We’re talking with Sand Products [the company that owns about 180 acres between the Village property and the Dunes Park area]. We’re working on a phase plan. The DNR doesn’t think we need an ordinance because [driving off road] is already a violation, and if we bring in too many enforcement agencies it gets cluttered. We haven’t talked about an ordinance at this time.”
Jon Drury spoke for about eight minutes on instating a teenager-staffed tollbooth down at the beach road entrance, charging $2–$5 per car. Villagers and perhaps people from Frankfort would receive a free season pass. The tollbooth worker would write down license plate numbers. He estimated the booth could earn up to $30K per season.
Eric Van Dussen reminded council that during the June meeting he proposed that a fund be set up for signage and offered to put in the first $100. He asked again when the Beach Committee holds its meetings.
Reg referred to Ross, head of the beach department, and asked if they’d had any meetings. Ross said he didn’t hold scheduled meetings but he would let Eric known about any future meetings.
EVD asked whether any previous meetings had been noticed and whether there were any minutes available.
Diane Jenks: “We don’t have regular beach committee meetings that are open to the public. We have had a couple of meetings with law enforcement agencies and the private property owners to compile a list of information that we could take to a public forum at some point. [The purpose was] to discover what the legalities are and make a public forum go easier.”
EVD asked if this was a board appointed committee.
Reg said the only committee we have appointed is Ross. The special issue with the road is Diane. Diane said she had been gathering information on her own because she wasn’t on council at the time of the 2008 beach meeting.
Ken Holmes said he thought Eric’s three minutes were up.
EVD: “I find it concerning that there seems to be a timer running only when I’m speaking. There’s no timekeeper or timer on the table. I find it arbitrary and capricious.”
RM: “It seems that when you speak you are confrontational toward the council and nitpick about minor things. If we make a mistake in Robert’s Rules or whatever, it is not to hide anything. If we make a mistake, we’re trying to be as open and transparent [as possible].”
EVD: “If you’re going to cut me off after three minutes, you should cut everyone else off too.”
RM: “I’m trying to accommodate everybody.”
Diane said she’d be happy to contact EVD “above and beyond the notifications” and Ross said he would be happy to call him too.
Emily Votruba: “I just hope those meetings will be posted publicly, and that way I can put them in the paper.”
KH: “No one is handing money over to the village for these projects. We used to have a restaurant down there. It could be very profitable. Everything’s gotta be so contrite. It just doesn’t go over worth a darn.”
We have received $5K of a possible $10K in grant money for the Elberta Dunes Park parking lot.
Ross had written an estimate for library roof repairs. Another estimate was in council’s packets for signage. Gilmore Township supervisor Carl Noffsinger had asked for comments from the board on what they’d be willing to contribute toward the library roof. A letter from Lou Gear apparently ceded control of the domain name to the Village, because Sharyn said, “Everything went the way it needed to go. We’re very happy.”
APPROVAL OF BILLS
Receipts were $65,482.76. Expenditures total was $62,970.63 (accounts payable: $30,681.10; Parks and Rec: $288.00; Solstice: $23,051.40; payroll: $8,950.13). NB: Parks and Rec and Solstice are self funding and do not receive any money from tax revenue or other Village revenue.
Treasurer Laura Manville said the audit had been completed and the report would be ready soon. “Everything was done well this year and everything was very clean.”
Ken said copies of the 2011 annual water report are available at the village office. A copy is also on the post office bulletin board. We had no violations for 2011 and were far below actionable levels for any contaminants. Ken had painted two crosswalks on 168/Furnace Avenue and was trying to find signs and figure out where to put them to slow the cars down. Jennifer Wilkins got new seats for the swings in the Waterfront Park (an approved purchase) and helped install them, including a handicap swing seat. Ken asked that people be on the lookout for vandals. Someone had run over the Porta-Pottys in the Waterfront Park the night before, presumably with a vehicle.
RM: “We have to look at diverting some funds for some security cameras down there.”
WATER AND SEWER
Ken Holmes said the BLUA audit should be complete by their next board meeting. There was still no information on hiring a new employee. “Robert doesn’t know whether he passed his last test. If he has not, the board has advertised for a new engineer.” He added that with the heat, there might be some smells. “Grin and bear it if you happen to go by when they’re unloading and unloading.”
PARKS AND REC
Michele Cannaert proposed having a Rich Brauer film festival, a kind of revival of the free Tuesday movie tradition. Rich had generously offered to waive viewing fees and donate $5 from each DVD sale to local causes. She expected to rent equipment at $100 per night and spend $100 for advertising. Various local nonprofit groups could sign up to sponsor nights, taking donations and using the Parks and Rec popcorn machine. Rich will also do a Q&A one or more nights if he’s in town. The tentative schedule would be The Wreck of the Hartzell; Dark Rise, a suspense film shot on the City of Milwaukee; Frozen Stupid, starring the late Ernest Borgnine; and Brauer’s latest, Dogman. Parks and Rec would front the approximately $500 total cost but would expect to make most of that back and possibly more. Michele had checked the dates with Sharyn and they didn’t interfere with any weddings.
Reg reminded Michele that any money spent had to be approved by the council. Michele said she would write up a cost proposal and submit it to the office.
Emily Votruba reported for the Historical Preservation Committee. She gestured toward the 10 foot by 8 foot model of a ship along the wall of the meeting room. “This is a replica of the J. Hazard Hartzell, which was wrecked off Elberta Beach in 1880. It’s the subject of the film The Wreck of the Hartzell and this model was built by Rich Brauer and Peter Henry for the film. The reason it’s in here now is that it used to be in the Mayfair Tavern. When the new owners took over the former management took out all the artifacts. Ken Bonney thought it would be OK if we stored it in here. Rich Brauer has offered to do a permanent loan of this replica, especially if it can eventually go in the Life Saving Station.” The Hartzell wreck, which claimed a local woman’s life, was one of the reasons the LSS was built in the first place. The whole community came together to try to save people from the wreck in a fierce October storm. Emily had spoken to Ross and he said he would take a look and think of ways the model could be safely displayed in the LSS. She said she would draft a loan agreement between Rich and council and pass that along. In addition, she said $75.73 in donations was collected for the Committee at Solstice and that had been given to Laura for the Committee’s fund.
Some confusion about a discrepancy of $182 in Solstice money was cleared up. That amount had been listed as part of Solstice revenues but was in fact owed back to Parks and Rec, since it was the money they earned as a vendor selling popcorn.
FARMERS’ MARKET/MARINA PARK
Bill Soper said a couple of Farmers’ Market vendors want the dock tops for planters and ramps. At least four of them are spoken for, and this would save on disposal fees. The rest might be painted and used as flower planters around the village.
Ken Holmes said people are fishing on the docks almost every day. “Are we going to replace anything we’re going to take out of there? Are we going to get a grant to improve the situation?”
The walkway idea was discussed. Bill asked Laura Manville to look into grants.
Sue Oseland, a member of the grant writing committee, mentioned the DNR’s passport grant, with its 25% match. Laura concurred that was a good option because it’s earmarked for parks and walkways, and most grants have a 50% match. The 2012 deadline was in April, but she said we could get started on it for next year.
Reg said there was nothing to report on the car ferry apron demolition.
FIRE AND SAFETY
Ken Holmes said the next meeting would be September 1 and they would figure out operating costs for the next year. He said things were quiet and not many fire runs had been made.
Ross said Bill Soper had helped him measure the library roof and they had put together a quote for Carl Noffsinger. “I would urge him to get more quotes. Get some more people to look at it.”
Linda Manville said the Lakes to Land Alliance now had a tab for Elberta on its website and she had submitted the history portion of our master plan to them.
Kris Mills of Betsie Bay Marina was not present, but there was a discussion of his proposal to buy a piece of property from the village, the usage rights of which have been disputed in the past.
Reg said, “He has an easement over our property but he wants to own it. But [his access road is] also going over DNR property, so he would still have to get a permit from the DNR. We can [sell or cede him the property], but it would be a mute point if he doesn’t pursue it with the DNR.”
RM, to Scott Gest: “Have we ever worked with you, given you any property [general laughter]? We worked with you to acquire property, but there’s always been a give and take.”
Scott Gest: “Well, we acquired it, it’s been paid for… There’s inconsistencies in the survey, so to me it’s not really clear in this [the Mills] case.”
RM: “Last year Scott put up a fence that stopped [Kris] from coming down through [Scott’s] property so now that’s pretty much taken care of. I don’t even know what they want, to tell you the truth.”
Sharyn Bower: “They want that 25 feet so they can put in another dock. I’m as confused as you guys are.”
Diane Jenks: “I want to talk to the village attorney.”
Ken Holmes: “When I first got acquainted with that property years ago there were three things going on there. First, Bob Beatty came to the village to ask for the right of way along the edge of the property. Before that they wanted to put in that first dock. It is right on the shoreline. There’s no way to put another dock there.”
PARKS AND REC
Before discussing an unspecified matter concerning Connie Manke and Parks and Rec, Reg asked Bill if he’d like to recuse himself because of his relationship with Connie (they live together).
RM: “Do you think you’re making a wise decision?”
BS: “I’ll decide [if I’m going to recuse myself] at the appropriate time.”
RM: “I’m asking the council to remove Connie Manke from her position as a Parks and Recreation member. I feel that she has failed to perform her duties in the past and in the present. I’d like to review the facts in chronological order, beginning with the 2009/2010 audit. [Council had a copy of that in their folder.] At the time Connie was the treasurer of Park and Rec, which turned their bookkeeping figures in to the village office, which in turn caused us to fail our 2009/10 audit. Parks and Recreation knew their books would be included in the overall village audit. There was an offer by our treasurer to help them set up a bookkeeping system that would enable them to successfully perform their duties as required by law. They did not act on that offer, so consequently our audit failed. If you look at the 2009 audit and go down to the page where it says ‘Documentation from the Park and Rec fund was minimal. A check register by itself is not adequate to back up expenses. No receipts or canceled invoices were available. There was a significant lack of documentation for expenditures. Most significantly, checks were written for cash—this is not an appropriate way to control expenses.’ So we were put on notice after that audit and Connie Manke was responsible for the Parks and Recreation books.”
DJ: “Can I ask who was liaison at that time?”
RM: “I’m not sure who was.”
Connie Manke, pointing at Reggie: “You.”
RM: “You’re speaking out of turn. Let’s go on to 2010, 2011.”
BS: “There’s a question that didn’t get answered here.”
RM: “We are going to answer questions after I go through this. The 2010/11 audit: Connie Manke once again presided over the Parks and Rec bookkeeping that failed the state audit. This led to a communication of significant deficiency by the state of Michigan. At this time the village took over the Park and Recreation bookkeeping because of the sanctions put on the village treasurer by the state of Michigan. In summarization, the village took over Connie Manke’s duties because she could not perform them. If you look at the 2010 audit, again, down at the bottom: ‘Documentation minimal, check register by itself not adequate to back up expenses, no receipts or canceled invoices were available. There was a significant lack of documentation. Most significantly, checks written to cash…’ We’ll move on to the communiqué that accompanied that. This is very important, the various charges. The first page: the 2011 bylaws of Park and Rec. I brought this up to the previous council, that the Parks and Recreation Commission was set up illegally. It was not set up correctly. The overall lack of control of finances caused us to fail this audit. The next page: ‘Money expended for unauthorized use: $500 spent without the approval of the village council.’ I guess it was given to a skating rink without the knowledge of the village council.
BS: “I did that.” [Parks and Rec made a donation to the Benzonia Ice Rink.]
RM: “This is a violation of the expenditure rules. Move down further. All requests for cash reimbursement must be [inaudible] with receipts and/or other documentation. We had at that time a Farmers’ Market director who was getting paid in cash without proper taxes deducted from them. Basically we were paying the Farmers’ Market under the table. The last part: ‘Significant deficiencies were found to exist in the Parks and Recreation fund. Documentation for the fund is minimal. No receipts or canceled invoices were made available. There is a significant lack of documentation for expenditures, most notable were checks written to cash. It is recommended that the Parks and Recreation fund come under the control of the treasurer.’ So at that time, since the treasurer thought that Parks and Rec could not do their job we then took that responsibility to our treasurer. Next, the Solstice Festival of 2011/2012. In 2011 Connie Manke was a codirector of the festival. That year the festival ran a deficit of over $2,500. [NB: Reg must have been referring to the fact that the festival ate into its own reserves to the tune of $2,500. The Solstice Festival did not owe any money to the village or any other entity.]
In 2012, with a new management in place, minus Connie Manke [Connie was actually very involved in Solstice as a volunteer, as usual, helped set up, and was at the festival all day selling popcorn for Park and Rec], the festival made over a $5,000 profit. This is a $7,500 swing in one year. It represents a better transparency and overall management of the festival.”
Michele asked to comment and Reg told her she’d have to wait.
RM: “Credit card policy resolution. In your packet you also have the Solstice festival statements from 2011 and 2012. 2011 shows a deficiency of $2,255.79 which Linda Manville prepared. In 2012 the net profits were $5,309.40.
“Credit card: Connie Manke was president of Park and Rec in the spring of 2012. She was given a village credit card. She was expected to obey our credit card policy as approved by our village council. This credit card policy is in your packet. In June of 2012 Connie Manke’s name was forged on a transaction using the village credit card—
CM: “I’d be careful using that term—”
RM: “She was negligent of upholding ‘b’ on our resolution, which states: ‘The officer or employee issued a card is responsible for its protection and custody and shall immediately notify the village if the card is lost or stolen.’ Somehow the card was in somebody else’s hands.”
BS: “It was neither lost not stolen.”
RM: “The village clerk shall review each credit card statement within 30 days of receipt to ensure that the transactions comply with the policy. Once all the transactions are verified the statements shall be submitted to the village treasurer. Because of the discrepancy in the signatures, that did not happen. ‘H’: ‘If any transaction or statement is undocumented by the credit card or signed voucher they shall be immediately investigated. If this investigation fails to verify the transaction it shall be reported to the council.’ That’s what I’m doing right now. Last meeting I didn’t have the signatures I needed to prove there was some discrepancies. ‘I’: ‘If an officer or employee violates this policy, the village treasurer shall immediately terminate his or her credit card authorization and confiscate the card.’ This card is no longer in use. By this resolution we also contacted our CPA. We had to do that by law. Officers and employees who violate this policy may be subject to internal discipline. Discipline could be termination, civil action by the village, criminal prosecution or any of these above measures.
“Next: insubordination. By the way, also in your packet you have two different documents. One is signed by Connie Manke and the other is from June of 2012. You can compare the signatures and look to see if they are the same.”
BS: “We all know they’re not.”
RM: “Insubordination. After I gathered the facts of the contested signature, I talked to Ken Bonney who was present at the purchase of the picnic table. I also talked to Laura Manville and Sharyn Bower because they are part of the credit card resolution. I called Connie Manke and asked to meet her about the credit card transaction. I told her I was free at any time to meet with her. She called back and said she would meet with me July 4 at 9 am down at the library. I went down to the library at ten to 9 and waited and nobody showed up. On my phone she said she would get back with me to reschedule. She never called back. So after the July Park and Rec meeting I told her I wasn’t asking anymore, I was requesting her to meet with me. She said she would only meet with me if she had Matt Stapleton or somebody else with her. I told her I wanted to meet with her as the village president, one on one. She refused. I was hoping this issue could be resolved in private to prevent any embarrassment to the parties involved. Her refusal reflects a complete disregard for our village government. I would be negligent in performing my duties as the village president if I did not request a meeting when the situation may involve breaking a federal, state, or local law. This matter was then turned over to our CPA Dave Wilson. Dave said: ‘The responsibility of the government credit card lies solely with Connie Manke. The act of giving that card to someone else led to a dereliction of duty because of the misuse of a government fund.’ Mr. Wilson also has tried to contact Connie three times in the last week and she refused to speak to him.
“In summary, I think this case is very pertinent to how you want this village administered. It’s a litmus test whether the council decides to follow the law or let personal relationships define if we will only selectively apply it. There are five charges. The failure of the 2009 Parks and Rec books, the failure of the 2010 Parks and Rec books, the mismanagement of the 2011 Solstice Festival, the credit card fraud of 2012, the insubordination by refusing to meet with me or talk to our village CPA. This case should not be solely judged by any one of these situations. It should be judged as a cumulative job performance that ranges from breaking the law, to at the very least poor management skills. The people of our village expect and deserve their representatives, may they be elected, appointed, or hired to execute their duties at the highest level of integrity, dedication, and job performance. Article 4 is also in your packet. This comes from the Parks and Rec bylaws. ‘1. Conditions for removal. The council of the Village of Elberta may remove any member or members of the commission for habitual serious or willful neglect in their performance of duty, extortion, conviction of intoxication, conviction of a felony, incompetency or official misconduct in a manner that is provided by law.’ The information provided shows a habitual neglect of job performance from 2009 to the present. The performance shows a lack of skill that rendered her incompetent to perform her duties as the leader of the village Park and Rec. If you disagree with any of these legal documents that I’ve presented, which would lead to her dismissal, I’d like your views, so they can be recorded as public record. So now it’s open to discussion. I’m sorry that it came to this, but I had no choice, this should have been taken care of—
BS: “You had multiple choices. What law has been broken?”
RM: “There’s five of them right here.”
BS: “There’s one person responsible for the village monies. No matter whose committee it is. There’s one person ultimately responsible for the monies. It’s not Park and Rec. Name one law that’s been broken, Reggie, answer that.”
RM: “We failed an audit in 2009 and 2010.”
BS: “Whose fault was that?”
RM: “Parks and Rec. Their books failed the audit.”
BS: “Who was responsible for the books?”
RM: “[Connie] was. You cannot give a computer bad information and expect a computer to spit out positive information.”
BS: “Well thanks for that info.”
RM: “It’s documented. This isn’t coming from me, this is coming from our auditor. These are all facts.”
Diane Jenks: “Let me interject here. We as a council dealt with this already once. We brought it up, everything was taken care of. Connie decided that absolutely she needed help. There’s no training for Park and Rec. It was dealt with. Done. Also, the credit card—
RM: “What do you mean ‘done.’?”
DJ: “All this, the audit from 2009 and 2010. We dealt with that in council, when we made the decision that Laura would be the one to handle the money. We put it to a council vote and so she is.”
RM: “Why did we do that? Why did she have to take it over?”
DJ: “Why did we do that? Well, you pretty much insisted on it and that was the way it was—”
RM [inaudible] “Look, you know, you can make me the bad guy, but I’m just reading off a legal document.”
DJ: “OK. I don’t want to argue with you about it, but we are all going to have our say…[inaudible] if you’ll shut up.”
RM: “You know what, I don’t need you to use that language.”
DJ: “Well. OK. Secondly, who had the credit card originally and gave it to who? Laura?”
Laura Manville: “I called Connie Manke and told her her credit card was here, that she could stop in the village office and pick it up. She doesn’t like to come to the village office. She doesn’t pick her reports up either. Jennifer [Wilkins] always comes and gets them, so—”
DJ: “You gave the credit card to Jennifer?”
Laura M: “And told her to be sure before Connie used it that Connie sign the back of the card—”
DJ: “So you trusted Jennifer enough to give her the card to take it to Connie.”
Laura M: “The credit card policy was given out with the very first credit card that was issued to Park and Rec. I can’t—there are several people who have village credit cards. I cannot be with them all the time… Reggie has a credit card, Sharyn has a credit card, Kenny has one, I have one, and the president of park and rec has one…”
Eric Van Dussen: “So the treasurer gave it to someone who wasn’t authorized to have it? You violated the credit card policy?”
Laura M: “No. I didn’t violate the credit card policy. It doesn’t have my name on it. If I gave my credit card to Sharyn Bower to go and use—wrong wrong wrong.”
RM, to EVD: “You have to wait till the end.”
Laura M: “You can sit and place blame all you want.”
BS: “You’re placing blame.”
Laura M: “That’s not me either. I’m not guilty by association. I’m just telling you what I do in my job. I trust people when I give them a credit card to use it correctly.”
BS: “What was not correct about the credit card?”
Laura M: “Well, you’re not supposed to give it to anybody else to use.”
BS: “You did though.”
Laura M: “I did not give it to [Jennifer] to use—[inaudible interruption from BS] You’re just trying to twist words.”
BS: “What was wrong with purchasing the picnic table?”
RM: “Jennifer forged her signature.”
BS: “It wasn’t forged. She had permission.”
RM [rhetorically] “Was there a forged signature? Jennifer? I’m asking you … did you write her name on a credit card slip?”
[Several people in audience tell Jennifer, “Don’t answer that”]
JW: “No comment.”
RM: “ ‘No comment.’ This is what we have. This is what I’m dealing with.”
Michele Cannaert: “Can I ask a question? About the picnic table?”
MC: “Was there authorization to purchase a picnic table?”
MC: “So… Jennifer, or whoever, went with someone to pick the picnic table up. Connie could not be there. So Connie gave permission to use the credit card, and then the picnic table was purchased and brought back to the village. And I understand that the picnic table was purchased so they could have a template, so they could make multiple picnic tables. I personally, as a person who pays taxes […] and as a businessperson in this community, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see that as illegal. To me, she made her her agent for the day, and she took care of something that she had permission to do. If there was no permission to purchase the table and if someone underhandedly went and did that, I’d see that as a problem. But in this case, permission was granted from the [card holder], and in the long run, as long as you don’t dispute it with the credit card company, [the card] can be run that way. Someone can walk in with someone’s credit card, with permission to sign that credit card and as long as the owner of that card does not dispute the charges, there is nothing illegal about that.”
RM: “Except for our resolution.”
MC: “My point to you was [RM attempted several times to interrupt] If you choose to follow that decorum … people make purchases with credit cards all the time without signatures. PayPal. Online. Swipes. You do not have to legally even have a signature. If the cardholder does not dispute that charge, the charge is legal.”
RM: “This resolution was adopted by the Elberta Village Council in 2000. If we don’t go by the law…”
CM: “We don’t even have a copy of that [meaning the resolution].”
DJ: “Jennifer, can I ask you, did you turn the receipt in to the office?”
JW: “The exact same day.”
DJ: “So was it your intent to buy a picnic table for yourself?”
DJ: “Was it your intent to commit fraud in any way? For yourself? For any gain for youself?”
DJ: “You were buying it for … you were buying a handicapped picnic table so that you and Kenny could save the village money by using it as a blank to make more picnic tables.”
Ken Holmes: “The thing that we’re looking at people is this: that picnic table is just one of many many things, when you start going back, through all these finances and the money, all that work of Park and Rec over the past two or three years, didn’t show up in any account.”
DJ: “We’ve already dealt with all this, Ken.”
KH: “This is history!”
RM: “What I’m saying here, I presented this case, this is not to be solely judged on one issue. There are five different things. Five things. And you know we failed an audit in 2009 and 2010.”
[Incomprehensible multiple voices]
BS: “For the village money, there’s one person responsible—”
RM: “You’re saying you turn something in to Laura and all of the sudden she’s responsible?”
Laura M: “I don’t keep the books—”
RM: “She doesn’t keep the books!”
Laura M: “Right now, yes, if you find a problem with those books now that I have control of them, yes, that would be my job.”
BS: “You’ve always had ultimate control of the books.”
Laura M: “Until the village council decided to have me do the books for Park and Rec, before that it was always up to you to do them and turn it in—”
BS: “And you would go over them. So you were responsible even before—”
[Shouting from RM]
KH: “At the end of the last four or five years, how many books that came from Parks and Rec…that they didn’t know where that money went.”
RM: “I’d like to ask a question too [to Laura]. How many times have you failed an audit?”
Laura, shaking head no.
Linda Manville: “Then why are you saying we failed—”
RM: “We did! How many times did we fail the audit? The two times that we had to incorporate—”
Laura M: “Only two times in 16 years. The last two years.”
RM: “So 14 years. 14 years she passed an audit without Parks and Rec’s books. […] Then we incorporated Parks and Rec’s books, which Connie Manke was responsible for and we failed. That’s a dereliction of duty.”
BS: “I totally agree that it’s a dereliction of duty for the treasurer not to oversee. Isn’t she responsible ultimately?”
Laura M: “I did talk to Connie about going over the books with her. She said yes [they would meet] and it never happened. And I brought it before council. It’s right in the minutes.”
BS: “Who was the liaison? The council didn’t act on it.”
RM: “Why are you shifting the blame from the person who made the books? I don’t understand that. You’re saying that the person who made the books is completely innocent.”
BS: “I’m not saying that at all.”
Sue Oseland [exiting the building] “I think I made a mistake moving to Elberta. People seem to think that they hate each other.”
BS: “I’m not saying that, Reggie. What I’m saying is—”
RM: “There’s one person that’s to blame.”
BS: “I don’t think so.”
RM: “The person who’s the treasurer, who’s responsible for the books, is responsible for those figures… What you’re saying is, she can [inaudible] all she wants, turn in checks for cash, she can do all those things that we were cited for, and you’re saying that it’s somebody else’s fault.”
BS: “Yeah, yeah I am. Whatever you want to hear.”
RM: “This is a legal document. This is why I brought all this in. This isn’t hearsay. This is our village CPA telling us … and you’re disputing it. That’s a legal document. Do you have something legal to dispute that with? Other than your opinion?”
Linda Manville: “I’d like to make some comments. Back early in 2011, I was asked by council, and volunteered, to help Park and Rec put together their paperwork for the upcoming audit. That paperwork would have involved the 2009/2010…
Laura: “The books you turned in to me were for the 2010/2011 audit.”
Linda: “OK. Just wanted to make sure I had my years right. So I went through, with the understanding that whatever they had, I would put in order and help them get it together for the sake of the audit. I did go through, and you can’t re-create something that’s not there, but if something is missing and we can find it we will, and I have my sheets from when I worked with Connie on it, and I had heard that for Solstice we did not have documentation for three cashed checks, but then we did find them.”
Laura: “Not all of them. We had one for $260 [inaudible] $400, we haven’t found them all…”
Linda: “We had one check that was written for cash, which we found, and the $400 supplies from Traverse City, $269 of that was accounted for—they had a remaining balance of $103.96. And I believe that after that, of that $103 we found that $50 to $100 was used to pay for the [health department inspection]. Other things that were missing were receipts from performers, and I have check numbers to accompany all of those, and I can’t recall specifically because as I said I put together two sets of books, I redid the check register and the receipts and turned it all in. So some of those we weren’t able to get. There were some from Park and Rec that were missing, some reimbursements back to Park and Rec and from Solstice—those were turned in, and 1, 2, 3, maybe 4, from the market. I believe that we were able to get most of these. I guess my bottom line is, I have a couple of statements I’d like to make. When the auditor made that statement, and I wondered about it at the time, when he said there were no receipts or canceled invoices, and that there was a significant lack of documentation for expenditures. I take exception to that, because there was a small number. To say that most of them were missing, I don’t believe that’s true. To say there were checks made out to cash, yes, there were checks made out to cash, but receipts were turned in for everything that year except for the $103.96, and as I say I believe at least $50 of that we’ve covered with the receipt from [the health inspector]. So the next year comes around, and knowing that we had an issue with receipts for performers and we had receipts missing for vendors, we developed a receipt for vendors, a copy of which is submitted here as evidence of Connie’s signature. And we had one I believe from every one of the vendors who was there and from the Solstice performers. Connie made up a mini contract, they signed for a certain number of dollars, and indicated on their receipt is the number of the check with which they were paid. They signed the receipt, Connie signed it, we got a copy and they got a copy. So when you went from 2010 to 2011, I believe there was a major improvement. Was it perfect? Maybe not, but it was a major improvement. And I think that when we look at this, it’s history. You say the audit went well this year, it was a clean audit. I look at this as history that was already dealt with. When it comes to the matter of the picnic table—I can’t go there. You were right Michele, about that, I see it too at work, often. I don’t have an issue with that credit card deal. Jen had authorization from Connie to do it, Jen was in the presence of another village employee, council had approved the purchase of the picnic table. There was no attempt at fraud! There was no intent of forgery! I can’t support it and I can’t support the comments regarding the audit because I know that when I met with Connie to help with that—”
RM: “This is really interesting because I have two legal documents here, the audit and the resolution, and I’ve got two people on the council saying the auditor was wrong and I also hear you saying that our credit card resolution is wrong.”
Linda: “I thought the statement by the auditor [Reg began shouting over her]
was a carbon copy from one year to the next. The statement is exactly the same on both the 2009/2010 as it is on the 2010/11. We’re dealing with volunteers. We’re dealing with people who live in our community, we’re dealing with people who benefit the village and are the heart of the village. I don’t understand.”
Emily Votruba: “Hear! Hear!”
KH: “The thing you need to understand is that money has gone out of our treasury for two or three years. Not a little money but a lot.”
DJ: “Are you making an accusation Ken? That someone stole that money?”
KH: “Not stole… no, I mean, we got no figures.”
EV: “Yes we do!”
MC: “Can I make a comment as someone who’s sat on Solstice the past couple of years and helped out? Three, four years? This year I went with Jen and with Josh [Herren] and with Laura and became part of the committee to run it. I know that last year we looked at the numbers … the money from solstice is like seed money. It’s an event that you put on for the people, and my thought is that if you put that on, and if you spent all of the money that was in the coffers, what is wrong with that? You’ve put on an event for the people. It is a free event. A year ago there were some expenses: Someone backed over an electrical outlet in 2011. We [Solstice] were charged for that. That came out as a loss on Solstice. That should not have. That should have been turned in to the village’s insurance or to the person who ran over it, their insurance company. We never understood why that $650 was put onto Solstice as a loss. There were fences that had to be purchased a year ago in 2011 because there was not enough fence for the beer garden. That was an expense. So when you have some of those expenditures, and you have $10K in this pot and you spend an extra three thousand and you only made enough to bring your reserves back up to $7,000 … so you spent $3,000. We had a wonderful party for $3,000. This year, the reason why things went well, is we were a bit more organized, we started in January, we had, probably, 10 times more sponsors this year, and that’s only because we started early and busted our butts to get more sponsors. We also with our vendor fees, for each ticket they sold we took 25 cents. I personally as a vendor put another $250 back into Solstice, because every ticket I sold gave the village 25 cents. That was money I could have had back in my pocket but it went to Solstice. So yes, we were probably better managed this year because we had time, we had energy to put it all together but to say that the years previous were lacking in funds, they were not. Reggie, we talked about this $3,000—”
RM: “I asked Josh Mills about this…or Josh…who was it? [looking at Sharyn]
RM: “His words were there were monies going in and out and he had no idea—”
RM: “Don’t you remember that?”
MC: “Reggie, Josh’s job was to organize the music.”
RM, interrupting, shouting, indecipherable “The money going in and out—”
MC: “Reggie, I’m not here to argue I’m just making some points that—”
RM: “It was mismanaged.”
MC: “No it was not mismanaged. We’re volunteers. I also take offense to you saying that Connie was insubordinate. A volunteer is not insubordinate. She is a volunteer. I was there when you spoke to her. I’m not going to speak to that in public because I don’t think that’s something for me to speak about in public, but I was offended at that Park and Rec meeting with how you treated her and how you treated the rest of us. I was offended. I’m sorry Reggie, I was offended. Connie asked you—she never refused to meet with you. She refused to meet with you alone. That was what she said.”
RM: “So you’re saying that the president of the village, the village council president, he’s supposed to listen to… I’m elected by the people.”
EVD, shouting “You have no authority over her!”
RM: “Nobody’s asking you. Nobody’s asking you. See, this is where you get out of line. You’re supposed to be talking about rules, right? Did anybody ask you?”
EVD: “And you’re interjecting in other people’s public comments as well! I’m following your lead!
RM: “Well, I tell you what, we’ll cut this off.”
Linda: “I think we should take public comment.”
EV: “We have something in our constitution called freedom of assembly. You cannot compel another one of your fellow citizens to meet with you. You can’t. You just can’t do it. [This is a somewhat mistaken or broad reading of the freedoms of association and assembly provided for in the Constitution. The First Amendment reads: 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.” But the freedom not to associate with someone against one’s will is certainly an aspect of civil rights, including the right to defend oneself, for example as stated in the Fifth Amendment: “Nor shall [anyone] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
RM: “If there’s a felony involved, I’m the president of this village, and I think there’s a felony involved that violates a law federal, state, or local, I am going to act. And the people of this village will support me. They’ll support me if I ask somebody in that situation and they refuse—”
EV: “I think this situation is much more nuanced—”
RM: “If I went around to the people of this village and told them exactly what was going on here, I would get support. I know I would. They don’t want this. They don’t want this.”
EV: “We’re the people of this village, and we’re here tonight, and we’re listening to the facts that are being presented to us.”
RM: “That’s right.”
EV: “Do you want to have a vote in this room?”
Jonathan Drury: “Regarding the fraudulent purchase of a picnic table for a handicapped… a handicapped picnic table… that’s probably one of the most peaceful felonies ever perpetrated…”
RM, shouts something
JD: “This was a volunteer…”
RM: “I can see where this is going.”
JD: “Jennifer has taken money out of her own pocket to paint signs, trashed her clothes painting the propellers… Connie and Bill, anyone involved in Park and Rec. They work night and day, tirelessly, for free.”
RM: “OK. Does anybody want to discuss this, if not I’m going to make a motion that we remove Connie Manke from Parks and Rec.”
DJ: “I would like to say before you do that Reggie, you asked Bill if he wanted to recuse himself from this vote because of a possible conflict of interest. Your wife is the treasurer.”
EV: “Hear! Hear!”
RM: “You are absolutely wrong! Completely wrong! The reason that’s wrong is that I have no … She’s not appointed, she’s elected. Connie Manke’s appointed…”
EV: “Connie Manke was elected by members of the commission.”
KH: “I would like to ask her to step down just because, we’ve got all these problems, not pointing fingers, not doing anything else, but I’d request that Connie step down from the office and place another person in her position, and get rid of any hostilities that we have going on right now because I, myself, I’m looking at finances here that I certainly don’t approve of. I certainly don’t. But that’s not the point…”
RM: “OK, I’m making a motion.”
Ross Thorsen: “I can’t go along with this, Reggie, I can’t do it.”
RM: “I’m making a motion that we remove Connie Manke.”
KH: “I’ll support.”
RM: “All in favor?”
Sharyn: “I’m sorry, who supported?”
KH: “I supported. And the reason for that—”
RM, to Sharyn: “We’ll take a roll-call vote?”
KH: “I don’t want to have an investigation on this and it looks to me that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
JD: “Well you know you could take it to the state level and get the local congressman involved and have them censure you… If you want to go that route, you know, just drop a dime to your congressman…”
Ross: “I don’t think this should be turned into a [inaudible]. This is a council meeting. I’m not I favor of it.”
RM: “I’m letting the council know that I’m stepping down as the go-between between Park and Rec… Somebody else can take that job, that has confidence… I don’t have any confidence, so…”
Linda: “I think we should table that until the next meeting.”
JD: “Thank you, Ken Bonney, for painting the crosswalks. I really appreciate that.”
EVD: “We have to have public comment.”
MC: “Can I do it before him, please? Mine’s very… can I just? Really quick. Last year I brought up the idea of historic 168, we now own 168 correct?”
MC: “Still not? I thought it went back…”
MC: “My suggestion would be that we put some signs up that say historic 168 with an arrow and put them along the highway. I think it would be a really great way to keep that alive. People love it. People come in every day to the store and want to know where 168 is. I’d be willing to head that up and head up the cost to do the signs if council would agree to that.”
Scott Gest: “I just wanted to let everybody know I’ve taken a position with the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments as a regional planner, but I’m continuing my work with the development and just wanted you to know you have whatever help I can give. My specialties are [interference rendered inaudible] and governmental relations.”
Jennifer Wilkins: “Can I suggest something? In the future for anyone who’ll be using credit cards, I’d like to suggest putting that sheet that you have [referring to the resolutions], giving it to them when they get the credit card so that they know the rules.”
RM: “You don’t know not to sign your name on somebody else’s credit card?”
EVD: “It happens all the time. You keep saying felony felony felony. And there’s no evidence that this even came close to a civil infraction let alone a felony. Your treatment of women is deplorable. I have my own moments, and I have emotions, and understand that, but your decorum as a board here is … not all of you, but certain members here, and they know who they are. It’s deplorable. And you need to figure out what is going on. And maybe get some training from MSU. MSU will come in here and for probably nothing train you about decorum at your meetings. And you need it. And maybe I need it too. Because you rub off on me. Mr. Holmes, you rub off on me. You cause me to become angry at what I’m seeing going on in front of me. And that’s ridiculous. There’s no felony. And for you to accuse people of felony and fraud—I have two credit cards in my pocket right now that do not belong to me, that belong to my employers that I use every day, and I sign my name on that dotted line. It’s completely ludicrous for you to accuse her of forging a signature to purchase a picnic table for the village after it was approved. It’s insane!”
JD: “There’s some conflicts of interest that could be investigated on this council—”
EVD: “The credit card was given to Jennifer by the treasurer. The policy that you have used to accuse her of not following was not given to Jennifer, and I could also argue that she did not violate that policy. The insubordination—I googled it—you have to have authority over her before she can be insubordinate. You treat her and other women as though you do have authority over them—”
Scott Gest: “I would like to apologize. For 14 years I’ve been coming to council meetings. I would like to apologize for the audience in general, because every time I’ve seen the decorum break down it’s because the audience has had issues and has had, I guess, a lack of friendliness for the town, and it’s reflected on the council, and I’d like to apologize for that.”
JD: “Who are the worker bees here? Jen, Connie, Michele, Ken Bonney. They’re the ones that get dirt under their fingers.”
RM: “I’d like to close the meeting.”
KH: “I’ll second.”
The next day Laura Manville quit the grant writing committee via an e-mail to its members, saying it was not part of her job description and that she had written the several grants she had done previously on a volunteer basis because she cares about the village. Ψ