Although Michael Miazga lost the chairmanship of the Van Buren Township Public Safety Committee at the March meeting, at the April 6 meeting there was an unprecedented re-vote that put him back in charge.
Miazga began the meeting by saying, “Our township lawyer determined we needed to re-do the election because last month’s election was null and void.”
When vice chairman Diane Madigan asked who put the re-vote on the agenda, Public Safety Director Carl McClanahan said he was not sure who put it on.
Trustee Phil Hart, who sits on the committee, said he put it on.
Madigan said when something like this is put on the agenda, she would like to have supporting documents to study before the meeting.
Miazga said the last meeting was not conducted correctly.
That was because Miazga had announced sternly that Robert’s Rules of Order would be strictly followed, which led to the determination that if he was running the meeting he couldn’t vote, except in case of a tie, so he did not vote and lost his position.
Committee secretary Pam Fleming acted as parliamentarian for that meeting, consulting the Robert’s Rules book in a recess during the voting. Fleming was not at the April 6 meeting and fill-in secretary Kristina Harmon took notes.
Miazga got his position back on a 4-3 vote with Hart, Raymond Bailey, Richard Wardwell and Miazga voting for Miazga and Russell Crowe, Reggie Miller, and Madigan voting against.
Crowe, who was voted in as chairman at the March meeting, was unanimously elected vice chairman.
In other business at the two-hour April 6 meeting, the committee:
• Heard a committee year-end report read by Miazga and compiled by him, Miller and Madigan;
• Heard a report read by Madigan about her activities on behalf of the committee over the last year. Miazga reluctantly allowed her report, “to get it over with”. He had denied her requests in the past to read it aloud;
• Agreed to set a workshop on Hoarding Ordinance issues, as requested by Madigan. Later the workshop was set for April 11. Madigan said she would like discussion on whether the state ordinance is enough or if a township ordinance needs to be enacted to work in concert with state law. She referred to 97 dogs being taken from a home in Haggerty subdivision and many euthanized without any restrictions or citations written on the owner that would get this person the help that she needs and prevent mistreatment of animals;
• Approved proposed revisions to the leash law to be sent on to the township attorney and then the township board for consideration;
• Heard Van Buren School Board President Martha Toth ask about when the public safety millage renewal will be on the ballot and McClanahan said that would be this November. She said the 18 mills renewal for non-homestead school tax will also be on that ballot;
• Heard McClanahan say he decided to do away with police and fire briefings for the meeting since they are so time-consuming to prepare and there is “no requirement to do that.” He said, “Everyone knows the Public Safety Department is running well as shown over the last year and two months”;
• Heard Police Officer Adam Byrd, who until this meeting sat at the committee table in uniform and gave friendly reports as the community policing officer, say now he was speaking as a citizen from the audience. Dressed in plain clothes, he criticized the committee and challenged members to ask what good they have done, noting they haven’t done their jobs. He pointed at the board members and said they haven’t followed their bylaws;
• Heard resident John Delaney say that it used to be teamwork with Byrd and the committee, but now it is adversarial because they want to delete this committee;
• Heard private-citizen Byrd respond to Director McClanahan as an officer when Byrd was directed to explain the new driving law for teenagers. Officer Byrd said the new law is ambiguous and Sgt. Fred Yono is asking the township attorney for clarification; and
• Heard Delaney ask Director McClanahan about whether, in the last 120 days, one of his individual investigators has been investigated by the Michigan State Police. Delaney had asked the question at the township board meeting the night before and McClanahan had said his department was not being investigated. Delaney clarified his question to ask about whether an individual is being investigated. McClanahan said it was an internal matter and a personnel issue and, “I won’t comment.” Delaney said that’s how McClanahan should have answered the night before instead of giving a flat no. “You do not lead me by the nose, Mr. Delaney. You will get no answer from me,” McClanahan said. Later after some discussion, McClanahan apologized to Delaney for his comments. “It’s difficult to police a free society and it’s difficult to administer an agency that polices a free society,” he said.
The next meeting of the Public Safety Committee will be held at 5:30 p.m., May 4.