Salted with Sharks

Alert Reader: “Asleep at the Switch”

In Alert Reader, Gov't Watch, Village Money Situation on December 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

The Alert received the following by email yesterday, December 13, 2013. Letters to the editor may be edited for length and minor typos/spelling issues. We welcome anyone’s input. Send letters to, subject line “Alert Reader.” Thanks for reading!

Can I post this on the ALert FB? Park and wreckers loved it!Asleep at the Switch, or Blustering Dullardry Sinks the Good Ship Elberta
Elberta’s Village Council President is either blinded by personal interest or just trying to keep up with our national government’s renowned incompetence and lack of vision.
A recent report [Treasury Report on Village Internal Controls] from the Michigan State Treasury lists countless missteps made by Elberta’s village treasurer and clerk which have helped propel the village into deficit.  This report makes clear that for the past two years, budget deficit reduction plans submitted by the village (never submitted to the Village Council for approval) were rejected by the state.  Now, the state treasury has placed a deadline on a new deficit reduction plan and the Village missed that deadline.  Rather than schedule an emergency meeting with an eye toward adhering to the state’s deadline, another externsion was requested of the state. Instead of an emergency meeting to solve the deficit problem, the Village President scheduled an emergency meeting to return the village clerk to a position she quit less than a month ago.  Why?Additionally, the state report makes clear that the village has failed repeatedly to submit required financial statements on a quarterly basis and that budget amendments arrive at the state’s door only at the end of every fiscal year rather than when they have been initiated.  President Manville maintains that the village office staff is competent.  They work more than twice as many hours as the clerks and treasurers of Benzonia or Beulah.  They also receive full-time benefit packages, as well as vacation and sick days that would make a Teamster blush.  Meanwhile, they fail to submit required forms to the State Treasury per state law, fail to process requests for paperwork by local citizens (which has led to at least one costly lawsuit) and fail to maintain transparent financial books.

President Manville has gone on record in the past few months with a sky-is-falling prediction that the state is about to send an emergency manager to swoop in and take over Elberta and sell its property.  This seems a clever subterfuge designed to distract Elberta citizens from the real problem.  The state treasury representative assigned to assist Elberta in solving its financial conundrum went on record about an emergency manager at the November 21 village meeting.  The representative stated that an emergency manager would be a last resort.  He went on to state the Village Council has the power to choose options besides an emergency manager, should it ever come to that point.
During the same meeting, President Manville called on Council members to present their solutions to the budget deficit and then proceeded to interrupt those with whom he disagreed, using rude comments and criticisms.  For example, Councilperson Linda Manville suggested the village office could save money by not having a cleaning service and the President blustered “And who’s gonna vacuum, the men or the women?”  This was clearly not meant as a joke. And no one at the meeting was laughing.

Nepotism and an obvious conflict of interest exist between Village Treasury and the President.  I suggest that the power of the treasurer and clerk be limited so they are not able to submit budget proposals and budget amendments to the state without oversight by the Council.  Unfortunately, combining blatant nepotism and majority Council voting power, President Manville and his cronies will continue to be able to run the village into financial ruin, while blaming the very council he “controls.” Voters need to take the power back before the sky actually does fall on the Village of Elberta.  But since the Village President seems to have a stranglehold on the scheduling of emergency meetings, I imagine these troubles wont be deemed any more of an emergency to him than the budget deficit.

Jonathan Kells

  1. Isn’t Elberta just following the example made at a county level with the commissioners and the leadership of Tanner? Play who’s on first, while “caring” so much,  nothing gets done besides fraud and deficits. I’d hire Stobie to turn Elberta around, as he knows the ‘leaders’ of Elberta.

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