Category Archives: New Buffalo

Whistleblower beware

True or False?  Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh is the source of a $10,000 ethics complaint against the police chief and two lawsuits costing thousands of dollars due to talking nasty about fellow employees.

True for sure.  After being recorded on a public surveillance system, Police Chief Larry Pitchford reported the problematic talk to City Manager Rob Anderson.  Pitchford’s whistle blowing was rewarded with a written reprimand by Anderson, then an ethics complaint by Ashbaugh and finally termination by the City Council.

Truth be told to other city employees, if you see a fellow employee misbehaving, you might better keep your mouth shut, otherwise you could face having your name dragged through the mud ending up with a termination just months prior to your planned retirement.  The city leadership’s response to whistle blowers.

After reporting Ashbaugh’s  inappropriate conversations on the public  surveillance equipment, Ashbaugh received a reprimand but so did Pitchford, apparently for blowing the whistle.

Following the reprimand, Ashbaugh filed an ethic complaint against Pitchford, leading to animages (8) extensive investigation by Attorney Sara Bell that included a review of the reprimand to Pitchford. Bell wrote “There is no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Chief Pitchford as it relates to the recordings from August 7, 2016, or any recordings of which I am aware that were reviewed thereafter. It is important to note that this finding is based on the fact that the recordings were kept in-house (given only to the City Manager and Mayor) and not released publicly by Chief Pitchford.”

Pitchford was expunged of all wrongdoing with the council accepting Bell’s dismissal of his reprimand and four other recommendations, one being that due to Ashbaugh’s threat of a lawsuit, the videos should not be released without a court order.  Another was that city employees be banned from sharing the videos or discussing the content.

While using the excuse of fear of a wiretapping lawsuit by Ashbaugh, the council abided Bell’s advise not to release the videos. The advise was bad, the videos public, the law violated, end result being the council losing an expensive FOIA lawsuit by Ray Kirkus.  Thousands of dollars in legal fees were wasted because the council chose the street supervisor over obeying the law.

Yet Ashbaugh wasn’t through with Pitchford, using the same accusations of illegally distributing a private conversation, he included Pitchford as a defendant in a federal lawsuit.  A baseless lawsuit with inflicting pain as the only apparent purpose.

Let this be a warning to city employees, the city leadership does not appreciate disclosure of wrongdoing or transparency in government. Pitchford was used as an example for workplace expectations.  After blowing the whistle, Pitchford was forced from his job by the city council two months prior to his official retirement. No dignified finish for a man with 40 plus years of service after he reported the inappropriate behavior of a co-worker that led to a forced early retirement, costing him his reputation and the gratitude of the community.  

Get this, by trying to protect Ashbaugh, the city council was first sucked into a FOIA lawsuit that they lost and then a baseless federal lawsuit brought by team member Ashbaugh.  Instead of trying to protect the reputation of an employee who was the center of the most expensive ethics complaint in the history of the city and two lawsuits, a better idea for the City Council would have been to abide the law by releasing the videos thus resulting in Ashbaugh’s demise.

To top it off, while Ashbaugh filed suit with accusations of illegal  disclosure of the videos by employees and the city broke the law to keep the videos private, then violated a Judge’s verbal order to release the videos, Ashbaugh himself failed to comply with Bell’s directive not to discuss the videos.  On February 2, after i was denied a copy of the videos at city hall’s front desk, Ashbaugh, sitting in City Manager Dave Richards’ office, discussed the contents of the videos on TV 57 while the reporter held up Pitchford’s expunged reprimand.  The council members and their employees disregarded all the recommendations of  Sara Bell except the one to cover for Ashbaugh, leading them to violate the law. Tax dollars wasted by a council played the fool by one of their team members.

Although the threat of a lawsuit by Ashbaugh led to the council’s decision not to release public information, a new threat of a  lawsuit got this response from Council member Liz Ennis as reported in the Harbor Country News, “If it’s illegal, we’ll find that out,” after she made the motion to accept a site plan fraught with legal holes.  Instead of knowing and following the law, it was easier for Ennis to move it to the legal system.  The City will lose yet another lawsuit because the City leadership continues to support employees instead of caring about the legal and ethical rights of residents. Should private citizens continuously have to hire attorneys to defend their zoning rights?

 

City Manager to Chief Pitchford – you’re out of here

Word has it that City Manager Dave Richards called Chief Larry Pitchford into his office at 4:30 pm on Friday, September 8 and told him he wanted him to sign a pre-typed letter of resignation. When the Chief refused to sign it, Richards pulled out a one pager, signed it with Clerk Lori Vander Clay as witness putting Pitchford on administrative paid leave until the September 19 council meeting when final approval of the Chief’s removal will come before the city council.  Richards told Pitchford to leave the building.  When Pitchford asked what this was about, Richards told him that they were moving the police department into a new direction.

imagesExactly how many directions can a police department be moved into? Could it be that there will be no police chief with just an administrative supervisor?  Or could there be a younger chief who could be paid much less than Chief Pitchford?

Chief Pitchford has been employed in the city’s police department for 40 years rising within the ranks to become chief.  Richards didn’t provide coaching or reprimands so the dismissal appeared to be out of the blue. But less than a year ago, Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh started making trouble for the Chief when he filed an ethics complaint against him.  The ethics complaint appeared to center on two public surveillance videos from August, 2016 when Ashbaugh was caught on tape while working at city hall.  Although Pitchford followed correct protocol and turned the videos over to his supervisor, then City Manager Rob Anderson, Ashbaugh claimed that Ptichford had illegally wire tapped his private conversations, threatening to sue the city if the public videos were released to the public.

Through a $10,000 investigation paid to Attorney Sara Bell, Pitchford was cleared of all charges and Anderson was directed to rescind a written reprimand given to the Chief.  But Ashbaugh didn’t appear to forgive or forget, filing a suit in federal court against the Chief and three other individuals (including me) for illegally recording and distributing a private conversation.  An attorney hired by the city’s risk management company is representing Pitchford and two other defendants while I retained my own attorney.

The charges have been proven to be baseless since Berrien County Judge Wiley ruled that one of the videos was not protected from an exemption of the Freedom of Information Act and the city gave the other video up to the court agreeing it held no protection through the FOIA either.  The videos are rightfully back in the public domain.

Here’s the deal, who is driving the decision to put Pitchford out to pasture?  Could it be someone in city hall who continues to carry a grudge against him, who appears to have an inordinate amount of sway with City Manager Richards and whose other attempts to get rid of Pitchford failed?  Or could it be a simple case of age discrimination?

The Chief, after being with the city for 40 years, must be making a sizable income. This might just be another cost cutting measure to help fund the downtown project and the sidewalks nobody wants or needs.  We saw the police department take a budget cut, we no longer have life guards during the week, the water rescue boat appears to be permanently docked, and our already high water rates are being increased.   Instead of applying for grants for the downtown project or reapplying for a DNR grant for the dune walk, these non-budgeted expenditures get dumped into the general fund.  And of course the unwanted and unnecessary sidewalks are gobbling up another several hundred thousand dollars out of tax revenue.

images (1)Pitchford might be either the victim of a personal grudge by a person with more political power than him or a casualty of age discrimination – or maybe both.  But it is a sad way to end a 40 year career, told to leave and not come back.

 

Truth be told, DDA

Truth be told.  Just two years ago at the January 2015 City Council meeting, Robert Kemper, on behalf of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), presented a plan for a parking lot at the city owned property on the corner of Mechanic and Barker.

 images (2)After 6 months of reviewing four plan options, Kemper stated that the DDA membership settled on a design that was compatible with the residential neighborhood, increased the values of the surrounding homes, was environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and could pass as a park at first glance. The design was beautiful and Kemper’s vision inspirational. He set the bar for downtown design high because he wanted our downtown to have excellent environmental standards in city designing.

Mayor Pete Weber and the city council members, although impressed, It's not like I have a master plan were not willing to spend the money until after the completion of a  comprehensive Master Plan.  (In a separate motion, a firm was hired to complete the 5 year delinquent Master Plan in eight to ten months but the plan after 30 months still is incomplete.) Comparison of the downtown plan to a master plan never happened.

 That was then, this is now….

DSCN0219Just two years later, the commitment by the DDA and City Council to keep the property ‘compatible with the residential neighborhood’ or ensuring that it was ‘environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and could pass as a park at first glance’ no longer was in play as asphalt and thick white lines replaced trees and green grass. An urban wasteland exists instead of the aesthetically pleasing extension of the neighborhood once envisioned by the DDA leadership.

And of course the city council’s commitment not to begin a downtownimages (1) development project until after the completion of a comprehensive master plan was tossed out the window along with the promise of preserving green spaces and creating an environmentally friendly environment.  Perhaps the lack of master planning suits those who hold the purse strings because without a plan in place, they are free to create a downtown that reflects their immediate wants instead of addressing thoughtful long-term eco friendly community-wide planning.

‘environmentally friendly’
‘compatible with the residential neighborhood’
‘aesthetically pleasing’
‘could pass as a park at first glance’

It would have been exceptional had there been follow-through by Kemper and the DDA with a sustainable plan that integrated economic, social and environmental policies in order to achieve reduced consumption, social equity, and the preservation of biodiversity.  Instead we get asphalt and fallen trees.

Below is a reprint of a Blog Post from January 2015

When a parking lot is a park.

The City purchased the vacant lot with The Pokagon Fund monies with the hope that the property could be used for a 30 car parking lot.  Lucky for the immediate neighborhood and city at large, it was turned over to the newly formed DDA to provide a plan with a budget of $80,000.

After 6 months of reviewing four plan options, the DDA membership settled on a design that is compatible with the residential neighborhood, increases the values of the surrounding homes, is environmentally friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and could pass as a park at first glance.

The proposal included using paver blocks with stones around and below, allowing rain and snow to filter through and provide a natural water catalyst system to feed the plantings on the two ten foot street side easements.  Plantings would consist of noninvasive native trees, grasses, and perennials.  Through a 3-d rendering of the proposal, attendees of the meeting could see the finished product.  It was beautiful!  Practical, not so much.

With the addition of green areas to the plan, instead of thirty parking spaces, the proposal was reduced to sixteen and with the decision to go for quality instead of quantity, the estimated cost went from $80,000 to $150,000.  The $9,375 per parking space was not considered out of line with other small cities accepting up to $15,000 per parking space for a quality plus parking plan.

The city council was impressed but not willing to spend the money until after the completion of a comprehensive Master Plan.  A wise move and in a separate motion, a firm was hired to complete the 5 year delinquent Master Plan in eight to ten months.  The inertia of the previous city council under the leadership of Murray, Lawson, and Geisler is efficiently being dealt with through swift actions by the new council.

Perhaps the vacant lot at the corner of Barker and Mechanic could now be turned over to our Michigan Main Street program to be developed into the first neighborhood pocket park in New Buffalo with the hope of more to follow.  Landscaping with native plants, a few picnic tables, trees, and minimal play equipment, a vacant lot becomes a pleasant place for people to congregate and even enjoy takeout service from overcrowded restaurants. Anyone with small children know the benefit of outdoor dining; relaxation for the adults while energy burning play for the kids.

We should cherish and encourage green open spaces throughout the downtown and city.  Spending money on the purchasing of  vacant lots wherever possible serves the city well with an investment in neighborhoods and the future.  Pocket parks fill the criteria for improved green spaces, recreational opportunities and increase value of the surrounding residential and business neighborhoods.  Included in a comprehensive pocket park plan could be a walking guide to encourage the exploration of our entire city by foot. The greatest benefit of these small intimate parks is that they provide a community center for neighbors and keep small children off the streets.  Pocket parks can be used for the retired, young families and a safe place for teens to meet under the watchful eyes of family, neighbors, and city police.

What’s the plan?

There has been a great deal of time, energy, and money spent on the city owned lot at the corner of Jameson and Indiana.  While Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh’s street crew and contract employees spend city resources on one project,  our streets continue to crumble.

The scuttlebutt around town is the lot is being prepared to sell.  But it doesn’t seem prudent for the City Council to authorize a sizable financial investment into a lot just to sell it unless there is a buyer in mind who wants the city to pay for the excavating prior to purchasing the lot.  In that location of town, improvements or excavation will unlikely yield a full return on investment.  The purchaser will benefit, not so much the tax payers who are footing the bill.

In the listed duties of the Planning Commission, it states that they are to make recommendations for any public space owned by the city.  But the decision concerning the changes to the city owned undeveloped lot did not go in front of the Planning Commission as required by law prior to the ‘improvements’ being made by the Street Supervisor.

Indiana and Jameson

Although clear cutting the lot might fit into his plans, how does it fit into a citywide master plan?  Keeping natural green spaces throughout the city might be a way to preserve the country like setting that attracted many of us to settle here either full-time or part-time. Perhaps the master plan addresses this issue and should have been consulted before plowing ahead with either the City Council’s or employee’s desires.

Preserving the natural settings throughout the city appears to play no City lotpart in the urbanization of the city that also appears to be central to the City Council’s planning.  Along with clear cutting the lot on Indiana Street, only about a block away, a property owner was informed by Street Supervisor Ashbaugh that his trees will most likely need to be cut down or moved for the 5 foot sidewalks that are part of the City Council’s urban planning.

DSCN0208This property owner only purchased his property a few years ago, unaware of the plans to replace trees with concrete.  His property probably had a higher purchasing price with the beautiful landscaping instead of the proposed five foot slabs of concrete, but the city council members don’t seem concerned about property values.  They are more concerned about the federal funds the mayor refers to as ‘free money.’ For some reason Mayor O’Donnell doesn’t connect the federal funds with federal tax dollars. We pay for those sidewalks that are not needed or wanted either through local, state, or federal taxes.

We hear the rote response from the Council that the city owns the  right-of-way in front of all our property so they have authority to do as they please with it.  But isn’t all property public property owned by the property owners whose taxes pay for all city bills?  The Council members appear to be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. They voice their concerns about the small business owners but the man who will most likely lose his trees to an urban style sidewalk is a small business owner who will financially suffer.

treesHis property, in its natural state, is much more appealing for seasonal renters seeking the country setting away from their urban living.  The urbanization of that property will only hurt his business.

This city ‘improvement’ also never made its way to the Planning Commission although they are legally responsible for making recommendations on all publicly owned property.  The Commissioners never reviewed how the sidewalks would fit within a citywide master plan. The hodgepodge planning utilized by the City Council might fit into their goal of urbanization of the city but they are supposed to follow city policies, local ordinances and the Michigan’s Planning Enabling Act.  Although complete control of the city might be the motivation behind their decision to disregard laws and policies, the council members should trust the people they appointed to the Planning Commission.  The Planning Commissioners are the community experts when it comes to planning and they should be allowed to use their planning skills to ensure all ‘improvements’ or changes fit within a strategic plan.  And with any luck, that plan includes preserving green spaces, rural settings, and trees or we are doomed to living with concrete instead of trees.

An elegant evening

 

Friendship Botanic Gardens Fundraising Gala

GARDEN-GALA-300x214


Saturday, June 3
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

An elegant evening to benefit the ongoing revitalization efforts underway at Friendship Botanic Gardens.

 

Formal dinner, appetizers and a host bar all in the gardens. We will have a live and paddle auction. Please consider attending this event as it is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year. We can’t do this alone. We need individuals invested in the future of our community and in the Gardens to help make this fundraiser a success.

For more information:
Email: info@friendshipgardens.org
Web-site:  www.friendshipgardens.org

 

 

 

 

 

The cover-up is always worse than the act…

download-1It was confirmed today that the State of Michigan, in an ongoing investigation of the current administration and council, is requesting copies of the videos where Tony Ashbaugh laughed about Councilwoman Messinger being shot at a city council meeting and where he used racial slurs against a co-worker. It also was reported that the issue of wiping clean the entire month of August off the city owned surveillance video server has been turned over to the Michigan State Police. It is a violation of the law to destroy public property especially when it is part of an ongoing investigation.

Since Anderson is responsible for the video server being wiped cleaned, it would be almost comical if it wasn’t  so serious that Mayor O’’Donnell isrip_the_truth__lgo allowing City Manager Rob Anderson to conduct an “internal” investigation on himself. It is reassuring the State is stepping in to monitor the situation.

City Manager Anderson has made it known that the current council men have no plans of replacing him if they remain in office. If this happens, it will be a rewarding day for the residents when the councilmen are forced to terminate both Anderson and Ashbaugh due to the video cover-up.

"If we're going to keep this quite, we'll need a public enquiry."

We will find out at the next council meeting that there was no merit in the ethics complaint that Mayor O’Donnell paid an attorney $10,000 to do an inquiry into.  This will confirm that the decision to start the inquiry was an attempt to keep the video out of the hands of the public before the election in an attempt to impact the election. The best way to keep public information confidential is to tie it to a legal inquiry.

The men at city hall have worked all the angles to keep public information out of our hands but in the long run it will backfire.  Because if these men are elected tomorrow, they will be facing lawsuits that should tie them up for well over a year.  But it shouldn’t come as any surprise to Anderson or Ashbaugh that if push comes to shove, the councilmen will sacrifice them to save themselves. Subordinates never do well in the cover up schemes as their superiors disavow any role.

Mayor and council members try to impact election?

downloadAccording to city employees, continuing the cover-up at city hall, City Manager Rob Anderson had an outside IT expert wipe clean the security visual and audio recordings for the entire month of August, 2016. Mayor Lou O’Donnell along with City Council members Bobby Spirito and Mark Kroll were notified but chose not to pursue the serious accusation while allowing Anderson complete access to other sensitive and vital city documentation. If the accusation is true and there  was destruction of public property by the city manager but not addressed by the council, it is implicit of a cover-up that could have an impact on Tuesday’s election and is most likely a violation of the law.  An immediate investigation could have either given the council evidence that Anderson should immediately be terminated or cleared him.  The council owed it to the residents to determine if there was a breach in security causes by Anderson.

tonyashbaughThis past Thursday, after a month of pressing Anderson, City Council member Donna Messinger was finally allowed to view two surveillance videos of Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh made in August.  After viewing them, Messinger was immediately slapped with a restraining order by Ashbaugh’s attorney that if she shared information contained on the videos, he would sue her.

Several weeks ago it was made public the videos revealed that Ashbaugh laughed about Messinger being shot at a council meeting, made racial slurs about a co-worker, suggested Lambrix manipulate the city budget, write in a salary increase for him, and used foul language to describe a variety of people. One has to wonder what else is on the videos that makes Ashbaugh so fearful that he has filed an ethics complaint against the police chief and threatened lawsuits against the city and Messinger while if true, City Manager Anderson wipes clean August’s surveillance videos.

At the October 18 council meeting, O’Donnell, Spirito, and Kroll hired a $10,000 attorney to ensure the videos was tied up in the ethic complaint made by Ashbaugh against the police chief.  Although we were told by O’Donnell the report would be completed within two weeks, it was just delivered to Messinger this past Friday, days before the election, with a warning that if she shared the information with her spouse or a blog, she could face legal penalties.

The recording of Ashbaugh was made through a city owned surveillance camera in the front office of city hall controlled through the police department. Ashbaugh contends the conversations were private and the recording illegally recorded by the police chief although all city employees are aware of the building’s continuous video recordings with the chief being charged with the monitoring of the equipment. There is no logic in his claims.

The plan by Anderson and Ashbaugh and collaborated by O’Donnell, the-cover-up-is-worse-than-the-crime-2Spirito, and Kroll to keep the public video out of the hands of the public until after the November 8 election smacks of a cover-up with the intent to impact the local election.  There is no doubt that the report by the $10,000 attorney will clear the police chief – how could a conversation recorded on a security surveillance video be considered an illegal recording of a private conversation?  It is the timing of the secret report being released that evidences a cover-up, days before the election and no time to be discussed at a public meeting prior to an election that impacts O’Donnell, Kroll, and Spirito.

The videos are public property so to keep them out of the hands of the public, the councilmen used legal maneuvering at the expense of the tax payers that might not be images-4illegal but it certainly is unethical. When Council member Messinger recently reminded City Attorney Matt Derby that a month ago he told City Manager Anderson to make her a copy of the videos, Derby’s response was that he didn’t recall the conversation and that now it is out of his hands because it is now in the hands of the $10,000 attorney.

Messinger is the only council member who is trying to put public information into the hands of the public but she is blocked every step of the way by city employees, city attorneys, and the men on the council. Hopefully Messinger files a lawsuit against these guys for censuring her constitutional right to free speech.

Vote O’Donnell, Spirito, and Kroll out of city hall on November 8. They images-5continue to prove they do not represent our best interest but while using our tax dollars, they protect their own special interest that includes keeping public information out of our hands and protects inappropriate behavior of city employees. One more thing, vote no on the city bond issue.  It isn’t what these guys say it is!

A community without accountability doesn’t stand a chance

download-1One of the major complaints of City Council member Donna Messinger and those of us who attend council meetings is that City Council member Bobby Spirito, and Council member Mark Kroll never use critical thinking or debate but instead follow the lead of Mayor Lou O’Donnell who in turns follows City Manager Rob Anderson, who most likely turns to the likes of Victor Ciardelli. Individuality on the council is doomed without Messinger’s insistence to original thinking if the three men remain on the council to think like one and vote the same.

groupthink-twoThe group think dictating their inability to articulate original ideas is reflected  in their unfortunate lack of insight in their campaign signs with Bobby and Mark listing their names under Lou’s, reserving the bottom for the only woman on their group ticket, Liz Ennis, who apparently is relegated to the position previously held by Donna. Voting as one, campaigning as one, instead of electing individual thinking council members we can see by the line up on one campaign sign with Lou on the top that Lou’s vote will transcend to all others. Their choice to run as one with listing Lou’s name first instead of alphabetical order says it all.

Mayor O’Donnell once told Donna Messinger she was losing friends because she didn’t obediently follow his lead on council matters, blurring her responsibility to her constituents with a commitment to his friendship. Lou’s inability to separate boundaries between friendship and stewardship comes from group think where loyalty is based on conformity.

It’s not difficult for group think to encompass those in the community images-6easily influenced through social connections. It wasn’t a stretch when The New Buffalo Times editorial team decided to only allow Councilwoman Messinger’s letter to the editor in next week’s edition after they took the liberty to censor out some of her opinions. With the election so near, the tabloid staff couldn’t take the chance that criticism by a council member about Mayor Lou O’Donnell or Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh might impact voter perception. Their journalistic indignation that the letter contained defamatory information unsuitable for print rings hollow when it shortly follows two members of their editorial team joining Mayor O’Donnell, City Council member Spirito, and City Manager Anderson at a birthday celebration for Street Supervisor Ashbaugh.  The party preceded not only the submission of Messinger’s letter but also the mayor’s decision, with consensus from Spirito and Kroll, to remove from public scrutiny a damaging public security video of Ashbaugh taped at city hall. This decision by the group to censure public access was collaborated willingly by The New Buffalo Times team when they chose to overlook the right to images-7access public information.

Instead of complacency, the tabloid’s staff should be outraged and join the public outcry for freedom of information,. While other media challenge government censorship, this tabloid joins into it blurring the lines of friendship with those of their duty of impartial journalism. Without an ounce of journalistic integrity, they edited out parts of a councilwoman’s opinion piece that could hurt their friends reputation and impact the local election. To read the letter in its entirety the Harbor Country News printed it,
http://www.harborcountry-news.com/articles/2016/10/26/opinion/doc5806e1a3857c9105907286.txt

Contributed opinion pieces in respected newspapers are left to the images-8reader to digest and interpret but not here in our town. The New Buffalo Times editorial staff cannot trust the readers right to know because it might influence support of the poorly written bond referendum or the slate of candidates the tabloid blatantly endorses. In this week’s edition, the editorial staff included my letter to the editor in its entirety with their rebuttal following.  Facts were not evident in their counterclaim that apparently came from City Manager Anderson who never allows facts to get in the way of verbiage.  The most egregious false statement the tabloid writers included was that 2 million dollars of the bond funding will go for downtown development while the other 2 million will go for streets.  This total fabrication of facts is being circulated citywide. If The New Buffalo Times editorial team held an ounce of journalistic integrity, they would point out to their readers that there is no guaranteed project for the 4 million dollars Lou and his supporters assert.  Through impartial reporting, The New Buffalo Times duty to its readers is to point out there is no budget or plan and that the entire 4 million dollars could be wasted on projects not even listed leaving our streets to further decay. images-4 While trying to sound factual, the tabloid tries to pass off a draft Financial Plan as justification for the 4 million dollars. Notice on the plan, less than a million dollars of bond funding is part of the income calculations for downtown improvements and nowhere does it or any other document or budget show any bond dollars committed to citywide street improvements. downtown-plan

Singing happy birthday to Tony Ashbaugh and being part of the group, along with the mayor, DDA chair Robert Kemper, and the city manager, is more important than exposing Tony Ashbaugh, who laughs about council members being shot and makes racial slurs about fellow employees.

The city council and its supporters raise billboards to a falsehood of how the bond money will be spent based on the double talk by a city manager trusted by few. Lou and the others confusing conformity with civility pledge to vote as one in united harmony eliminating the need for critical analysis.  And  the city’s official tabloid regulates itself to propaganda in chief as it regurgitates pabulum fed to them while confusing loyalty with accuracy.   “A community without accountability doesn’t stand a chance.”

 

57 News – Videogate in New Buffalo

http://www.abc57.com/story/33388943/new-buffalo-city-council-appoints-new-member-amid-controversy

imagesAfter Donna Messinger fled the special New Buffalo council meeting on Thursday because of talk by employee Tony Ashbaugh about another employee shooting her, Mayor Lou O’Donnell said there was an internal investigation being completed.  The internal investigation of Videogate consists of City Manager Rob Anderson, a good friend of Street Supervisor Tony Ahsbaugh, paying $10,000 of our tax revenue to an attorney with the intent to clear Tony while indicting the police chief.  And although Donna asked the men on the council if they would stand by Tony or the Chief and her, it didn’t appear they moved an inch away from City Manager Rob Anderson or Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh. As it is, there was supposed to be an investigation on who allowed Tony to store his private property at a public building for free.  Anderson promised an investigation into that but so far, nothing.

I’d be willing to bet a dollar that within a week, the Chief will be found guilty, Tony will be cleared, the attorney will be $10,000 richer, the tax payers will be $10,000 poorer, and the video will never be seen again – so goes Videogate and the corruption in New Buffalo. As it is, without authorization by the council, City Manager Anderson had the audio surveillance removed from the front office of city hall.  Will he be reprimanded for interfering with security, absolutely not, he just got a $25,000 bonus to stay 25 days, we can hardly expect Mayor Lou, Councilman Bobby, or Councilman Mark K. to give a write-up to a man who tells them what to do.  (None of them seem to understand that the city manager works for them – in 18 months, they never gave him an evaluation, just a big bonus).

Speaking about the appointment of Mark Robertson to the council, Mayor Lou O’Donnell felt Mark added diversity to the council because he was native-born to the community.  Really?  Didn’t Mayor Lou mean that he added diversity because he wasn’t a drinking buddy of former Mayor Pete Weber or a member of Lou’s Yacht Club (as are council members Bobby Spirito and Mark Kroll)?

Mark Robertson’s diversity isn’t due to being born here, it’s due to the integrity that he brings to the council, something that would otherwise be lacking once Donna Messinger leaves after the election. This integrity comes from an understanding of the responsibility for thoughtful decision-making based on laws, policies and common sense instead of directives issued by a city manager whose only interest in the city is self-interest. We can only hope that after the election in November, other people will add the same diversity that Donna and Mark Robertson have, and that is called integrity.

You asked what you can do…

 how-you-can-helpYou asked what you can do to make sure change is positive in New Buffalo.  Here is something simple. At the Tuesday, September 20 council meeting, the council members intend to change zoning ordinances so they have final say in land use decisions instead of the Planning Commission. Before voting on the issue, they must accept public comment so write a short email to Mayor O’Donnell, Council members Messinger, Kroll, and Spirito by Tuesday September 20 asking them to vote NO.

Feel free to copy and paste the following email or submit your own.
TO: stop-and-do-the-right-thing lodonnell@cityofnewbuffalo.org,  rspirito@cityofnewbuffalo.org,   mkroll@cityofnewbuffalo.org,   dmessinger@cityofnewbuffalo.org,
Cc::  clerk@cityofnewbuffalo.org
Subject: Zoning changes

Mayor O”Donnell and Council members, Please vote no on changing zoning ordinances at your September 20 meeting.  Before voting for changes that will significantly change the zoning laws, please hire a planning professional to review the legality of the proposed wording and assess the impact of the changes.  Instead of rushing into changing laws, you and the city manager should try to comply with them. I am requesting that the city clerk include this email in the council’s September 20, 2016 agenda packet so it becomes part of the official record. Sincerely yours…….

City Manager Anderson overstepped his role as Zoning Administrator by allowing a wealthy investor and an influential developer to bypass the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeal when they received permission from him for land use variances.  As this blight of public easements pop up throughout the city due to the city manager being allowed to disregard law, it proves that it is in the city’s best interest that land use decisions rest with the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeal instead of  the city manager.

VictorWhen millionaire investor and owner of the Fountain Square property, Victor Ciardelli wanted to hide his house from N Eagle Street, City Manager Anderson was his go to man.  He allowed Ciardelli to construct a 10 foot berm with a six-foot privacy fence butting up to it.  Both the berm and the fence are in front of the city’s set-back restriction.  There was no review of zoning ordinances or engineer reports by the Planning Commission to assess compliance to zoning ordinances or the impact on storm sewer issues. The Zoning Board of Appeal never issued an ordinance variance or held a public hearing where neighbors could have participated in a meeting that would impact property values and potential flooding problems. Instead, Anderson took the law into his own hands, building political capital while Ciardelli got what he wanted.

Victor Ciardelli's 10 foot solid wall blocking his city lot on N Eagle Street

Victor Ciardelli’s 10 foot solid wall blocking his city lot on N Eagle Street

The illegal fence

The illegal fence

City of New Buffalo Zoning Ordinance
SECTION 3-5 FENCES  
B. Fences erected within the front yard in any district shall not exceed three and one-half (3 ½) feet in height. Fences within the front yard shall be of a type which is not more than fifty (50) percent solid and shall not be located within any clear vision area, per section 3-13.
(A ten foot berm certainly exceeds the 3.5 foot, 50% solid restriction as does the 6 foot stockade fence)

On the other side of town, Mr. Anderson allowed a developer of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to use a public street like it is part of the privately owned development.  The Merchant Street Cottages, at the corner of E Merchant Street and N Taylor Street, is a PUD and should be required to comply with both the state law and city ordinances that set PUD specifications.

When the Planning Commission allowed the construction of the PUD in 2009, they included a list of restrictions and criteria that the developer had to comply with before completing the development. (attached is a two page document outlining the criteria as well as the original site plan with modifications that were never approved by the Planning Commission pud-evaluation)  The Planning Commission oversight was dismissed by Mr. Anderson while he allows building permits that violate the terms of PUD law.  If requested by the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeal or City Council to provide evidence that state law or local ordinances allow a PUD developer to disregard laws and ordinances governing publicly owned property, Mr. Anderson couldn’t do it.  There is no law that exempts private developers from following ordinances governing public property.

Disregarding zoning laws, City Manager Anderson allowed the developers of the  (PUD), to install an in-ground pool in the front yard of a public street. Although the pool was not being built in the location approved by the Planning Commissioners, Anderson did not request a review of the changed site plan. Neither did Anderson take a variance request to the Zoning Board of Appeal where a public hearing would have notified surrounding neighbors their legal right for public comment prior to a variance on a public street.  This “special land use” decision at 121 N Taylor Street was made solely by Anderson in his quest to help local developers. We need a city manager who follows the law.  If he doesn’t understand the law then he should be required to take continuing education classes specific to that subject.

City of New Buffalo Zoning Ordinance
SECTION 3-14 SWIMMING POOLS
B. Swimming pools shall not be located less than ten (10) feet from any lot line or any main building. C. Swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and similar devices shall not be located in any front yard.
(The pool is closer than 10 feet from the property line of a public street and is in the front yard)

121 Taylor Street, Developers act like it is a private street

121 Taylor Street, Developers act like it is a private street

Can you image if we all put a pool on the front set back?

Can you image if we all put a pool on the front set back?

If you interested in running in the recall against Mayor O’Donnell, you can pick up a petition at city hall and complete it while there, it only takes your own signature to become official. The deadline is 4 pm, Monday, September 19.

 

 

Continue reading

Why a recall on Mayor Lou O’Donnell – trust, a five letter word

law and ethicalMayor Lou O’Donnell refuses to enforce or he ignores state laws, local ordinances, and city policies, losing tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars by listening to City Manager Rob Anderson.  This is why there is a November recall election against him.

August 21, 2016

To: City of New Buffalo Mayor Lou O’Donnell

Copied to City Council Members Messinger, Spirito, Kroll
Copied to Planning Commissioners Fisher, Valiquett, Kirkus, and Hullet
Copied to Robert Kemper

At the August 16, 2016 city council meeting, City Manager Rob Anderson laid the blame for the Department of Natural Resource’s denial of a concession stand and dune walk grant on the inexperience of the park manager and volunteer grant writer because they were unaware of the need for a public hearing and site plan review.

You must know that it is the responsibility of the city manager to ensure compliance with imagesplanning laws. Both Pat Fisher and Ray Kirkus told you at council meetings that legal protocols, such as site plan reviews and public hearings were not being followed by the city leadership. Although Mr. Anderson had plenty of time to contract for a $4,950 detailed rendering of a concession stand that exceeded grant requirements, he didn’t bother with the legal planning and zoning requirements. Ultimately, it is your legal responsibility to ensure his compliance to manage our city through legal protocols. Had Mr. Anderson complied with the state and local laws prior to the grant application being submitted, we would be in line for a brand new concession stand and an accessible dune walk. Instead, you allowed Mr. Anderson to waste $4,950 on a site plan that was incomplete then you allowed him to blame two innocent individuals instead of holding him accountable.

Since Mr. Anderson doesn’t understand the state planning process, it leaves many residents puzzled as to why you are committing yourself to change the city’s planning laws based on his recommendations. Your own planning expert, John Houseal, stated at a planning commission meeting that the correct protocol is for the completion of the master plan prior to changing zoning laws, not the other way around. With Mr. Anderson’s poor track record on planning procedural advice that cost the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars, why would you listen to him and not Mr. Houseal? Your legacy could easily end up being a tangled web of continued lawsuits due to the ambiguity in the language of the changes. Instead of rushing into following bad advice, you and the other council members should have required a planning expert review of the changes and a consult with the Michigan Association of Planners to determine if the changes follow best practices in the field.

Mr. Anderson stated at a council meeting that a detailed site plan was not required for the projects but Chip Kosloski of the DNR wrote to Pat Donnelly that an Advance Notice or public hearing was required as part of a grant request as was a Site Development Plan that details the location of the project. Lacking these, the grants requested had to be denied.

michael-polzin-quote-we-have-to-follow-the-law-we-dont-have-a-choiceThe Michigan Planning Enabling Act requires that a planning commission must hold a public hearing before acting on a proposed plat. It must give notice to the applicant and adjoining landowners, as well as publish notice by newspaper of that hearing at least 15 days beforehand.

Mr. Kosloski, Grant Coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources, Finance Division wrote “the primary concern is the advance notice. We need to see the copy of the advance posting that there would be a public hearing where the public comment on the grant application PRIOR to the city approving a resolution. You indicated that there was an agenda posted prior to the 3/15 meeting. Is this the City of New Buffalo’s standard procedure for public notice? To include the information on an agenda and post it publicly prior to the meeting? We still need to see the copy of the agenda. If the agenda cannot be provided for our review then this application could become ineligible and would not move on to the next stage of the review process.”

You should know our rules governing public hearings but if you don’t, you should be able to depend on the city manager to know them and follow them. Had you required Mr. Anderson to send the project review process to the planning commission, Pat Fisher, Ray Kirkus, and Ralph Hullet are all trained in laws that govern planning procedures and know a site review must be accompanied by a public hearing. Mr. Anderson will be hard pressed to provide a copy of an advance notice for the parking plan on Whittaker Street because there isn’t any. There was a request by Pat Fisher to hold a public hearing but he was rebuffed by Mr. Anderson while you again deviated from law by allowing a vote prior to a public hearing. The state will see this as a red flag for eligibility.

Street plans are currently being developed by the DDA but without a site plan review and publicworking by the rules hearing procedure, any type of public funding including TIF or bond issuance could be vulnerable due to lack of following legal state and local processes. The DDA is bound to the same legal planning requirements as the city.

There were at least five times since Mr. Anderson was hired that the city did not follow the correct legal process concerning site reviews and public hearings.

  • Safe Routes to School sidewalk program
  • Sidewalk variance request by a couple on Mayhew Street
  • Merchant Street Cottages site plan changes
  • Concession stand and dune walk grant request
  • Whittaker Street parking plan 

laws due to populationThe taxpayers have a right to know if you plan to continue to disregard laws and policies and if your intentions are to continue to change local planning laws each time Mr. Anderson prefers to change them instead of following them. Through example, Mr. Anderson is training new employees, volunteers, DDA members, and even council members to disregard state laws, local ordinances, and city policies. Besides not following planning laws, there are three civil rights complaints filed with the state because either you or Mr. Anderson did not follow the city’s nondiscrimination policy. These will add to legal fees for the city and could also impact the city’s ability to receive state and federal funding. Hiring a full time attorney to defend Mr. Anderson’s reckless behavior is not a prudent response to a city manager who disrespects due process. politician-recall-illo-chris-whetzel-940x540

The public’s inability to trust you or Mr. Anderson to be responsible for upholding andmt complying to laws and policies has led to the bond referendum in November. We cannot be sure that you will require compliance of the law or the stated purpose of the funding since your own track record for the past 19 months as a council member is weak in law and policy compliance. At the September meeting, please reassure the public by first putting a moratorium on any zoning changes until the master plan is completed and the changes can be reviewed by a planning professional then publicly acknowledge that you intend to require Mr. Anderson to comply with all laws and policies. It is the only way you might be able to regain public trust and put our city back on track for funding that will be essential for the improvements needed in the city.

Sincerely,
Susan Gotfried

 

Outdoor Movies at Oselka Park?

Bay City, Michigan

Bay City, Michigan

We spent last week-end in Bay City, Michigan where a local theater provides outdoor movies every Tuesday and Friday evening with an inflatable screen along side a hill at a riverside park.  It was a great place to meet and greet friends and neighbors while munching on popcorn then dancing  and singing along with the songs ingrease Grease.

Wouldn’t watching, munching, laughing, singing, and dancing be a great repurposing of the sledding hill at Oselka Park during the long hot summer?

 

dancingdancing two

Civil Rights Violations – Rob’s Rules of Order

It says much about New Buffalo and its city manager that the Civil Rightspicture of man crossing his fingers Division of the Attorney General’s office accepted for investigation three constitutional violations while the Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney investigates a Planning Commission member for violating the Open Meeting Act.  This week begins with a Michigan Civil Rights investigator interviewing city officials on a race discrimination violation. Another race related violation as well as a sex discrimination violation wait in the wings repeating the investigation of city officials over and over through the coming months. The investigations might lead to repeated Federal judicial cases against the city and its officials costing in reputation, money, and time.

discriminationThere are those in the community who willingly allow City Manager Anderson’s lawlessness because of his promise to quickly beautify the downtown.  Stepping on civil rights and ignoring Michigan laws, local ordinances, and city policies is acceptable behavior as long as the downtown project is completed soon and to his specifications.  Selling your soul to the devil might accomplish short-term goals but if the city is found guilty of only one of the civil rights claims, we will face long-term penalties by Michigan when competing for government grants.  Understand, it is not the people making these claims that are at fault, it is the fault of the city’s administration for following Rob’s Rules of Order instead of official laws and policies.

You might recall that constitutional violations began when the council supported Anderson’s tribunal against the Planning Commission’s leadership.  It ended when the council members realized violating the law falls outside the immunity granted through their elected office.  As they come face to face with a Michigan State Civil Rights investigator, they will again face the possibility of no longer being under the city’s legal umbrella if their individual actions violated constitutionally protected rights.  If only they had followed laws and city policies instead of Rob’s Rules of Order, our city wouldn’t be ripe for the picking by those who seek justice through the courts when the leadership of the city refused to address their grievances.

complianceWhat has happened to our community in the short time since Rob Anderson came to town?  His management style has led to a lawlessness that tramples on our rights, leaves volunteers and city employees fleeing their positions but he appears to be okay with those who believe his promise of a beautiful downtown is enough to turn a blind eye to the way he accomplishes it.  Poorly trained Planning Commissioners  are following his lead as does the Councilmen and we should not doubt that new employees too will have no choice but to attend to city business according to Rob’s Rules of Order.   turnign a blind eye

Anderson thought nothing of wasting $230,000 in his quest to disrupt the Planning Commission as well-trained members fled their positions and his accusations.  And he didn’t bother to train his new replacements but maybe that was by design. After the Open Meeting Act violation, we learned on Friday that at Wednesday’s meeting, after following the advise of Anderson, all but one member of the Planning Commission  violated city policies and Michigan law.  Anderson, who accused the former planning commissioners of not completing fact-finding in the drug store issue, encouraged the current members at an improperly posted meeting to vote on the North Whittaker parking site plan without fact-finding or a public hearing.  These good folks following shady leadership set themselves up to violate laws that leave them at risk for personal legal consequences.  Hopefully they all have their own qualified attorneys.   The Councilmen are as bad as Anderson when casually throwing laws to the wind and will most likely pass the plan with all its legal inadequacies leaving the city ripe for lawsuits that will hamper any future development.

With private and public lawsuits looming over the council members, they are now being advised by Anderson to change zoning laws to his liking at Tuesday’s Council meeting.  This follows a warning from his own planning expert, Michael Houseal, that zoning ordinance changes should follow the completion of a master plan – not the other way around.  Is it wise to make major changes in our local laws prior to volunteers being properly trained and the council members, as well as the city manager, facing the possibility of Federal changes both as city representative s and private citizens?  Although common sense, as well as laws, are tossed out the windows of city hall, a step back by Anderson should be demanded by both the residents and the Council members.  The Councilmen themselves should consider the possibility of future lawsuits by taking on more responsibilities that require them to vote according to Rob’s Rules of Order leaving them to face the legal consequences.

We can’t continue to allow one man to violate legal protocols in his quest to grab power and control while risking our reputation through civil rights violations. We could at least require the Council to let the Planning Commission hire a professional whose solid working ethics could be trusted to help shape the direction taken by the membership. The planning professional could properly train the members, help them to legally process land use decisions and keep them on track to develop a well thought out master plan while Anderson and the Councilmen wrestle with their protocol violations mounting up against the city.  Don’t allow these men to violate more laws leading to more lawsuits.  We need to demand that the Councilmen allow the newly resurrected Planning Commission lead our city in successful community planning following legal protocol instead of Rob’s Rules of Order.

 

 

 

Who would have thought?

 

A year ago, when hopes were high, who would have thought that City Manager Rob Anderson would be allowed by the guys on the city council to convene an illegal kangaroo court process against the leadership of the Planning Commission?
Mayor WeberAlthough the guys on the council could have halted this illegal act, this coming Wednesday, May 11, 2016, at 6:30 pm, Anderson’s tribunal will continue, violating Fisher’s and Kirkus’ constitutional rights.  If removed from their positions in Anderson’s attempt to control the Planning Commission, it will lead to another costly court battle without legal merit. Destined, like all of Anderson’s other failed lawsuits, to end in a rubble of bad feelings and costly legal fees.
Anderson never apologized to us or the council for his “errors”in judgment but instead requests a full-time attorney to cover any future mistakes as he sues citizens with no regard to legality or cost.  The targeted citizens being sued will be the only ones worrying about legal fees as Anderson sics his attack dog on anyone who gets in his way.  Keep in mind that if Anderson gets an employed attorney, he will no longer have any accountability for futile lawsuits used to intimate and control us.
At the same meeting when Anderson rids himself of Fisher and Kirkus, he plans on having his buddy appointed to the Planning Commission.  A friend he paid $4,700 in tax dollars for a drawing for a grant application who as a commissioner will be able to bid on city projects as well as approve them. A cozy relationship built with tax dollars.
Many of us hoped that Anderson’s closed session supervisory evaluation included a “Come to Jesus” meeting.  If not, we will see more legal abuse by Anderson against residents and businesses especially if the council rewards him with his own private attorney.

I’ve got a secret!

A group of residents met at the library on Saturday morning with a secrecy-destroys-accountability-quote-1common concern, what are the secrets of Mayor Weber and City Manager Anderson concerning city business?  Why isn’t the City Council holding them accountable?

The following are some questions for the city council to answer in a public meeting.

Pete and Rob

Pete and Rob

What is in the nondisclosure contracts signed by Weber and Anderson with the new owners of the Fountain Square property?  When were they authorized by the city council to sign contracts on behalf of the city?

Why didn’t the city council hold Anderson accountable for not issuing a building permit for the drive through window at the drug store after being issued a Writ of Mandumus (legal order by a judge) on April 15?

When did the city council authorize Anderson to file another appeal on April 27?  Is the city council allowing Anderson and Attorney Mitt Drew control of city decisions that require massive amounts of tax dollars? Since the appeal was to disallow the drug store from pursuing legal fees inflicted on them by the city, why isn’t the city council accepting responsibility to determine if they want to block the effort of the local business?

Who wrote the zoning map in the draft master plan authorized by Houseal and Lavigne?  Who authorized the change from Central Business District to General Commercial District for the Fountain Square property? Who on the city council knew about this change?

Who wrote the resolution for the tribunal against Pat Fisher and Ray Kirkus, Anderson or a city attorney?  Who was behind the request for a meeting for the week of May 9 to continue the tribunal?  Why aren’t the city council members concerned that they violated Fisher’s and Kirkus’ constitutional rights?

Why does Anderson and the council members blame City Attorney Mitt Drew for all decisions being made by the city?  Why isn’t  Anderson accepting responsibility since the City Charter states he is accountable for laws and ordnance enforcement?  Why isn’t the city council accepting responsibility for not ensuring Anderson is performing his duties?

Anderson stated that the legal opinions of Judge Donahue were only opinions so why does he and the city council members consider the opinions by the city attorney gospel even when these opinions appear only to be given so the attorney can bill the city?  Why can Council Member Messinger discern the difference between opinions and fact when voting, if the other council members can’t?

Since the City Charter states the city attorney reports to the city council why is he taking directives from Anderson instead of the city council? When did the council authorize this relationship?

Except for Messinger, why isn’t there open debate or questioning by the council members at public meetings since Anderson wasted over $200,000 because he has misapplied laws and policies? Why aren’t the city councilmen more engaged in ensuring accountability?  Why are they allowing complete control of the city by Anderson and Drew?

Why is the city council considering further restrictions on transparency through changes in city council meeting rules? Do the city council members know who wrote the rule changes or why?

Why does Anderson’s contract allow him to report to Weber or the city council?  Don’t they know the City Charter states the manager will report only to the city council?

Residents want answers, here is a list of some options mentioned at the meeting.

  • Monthly community meetings prior to the monthly city council meetings to monitor current council agenda and budget.
  • If answers aren’t provided concerning nondisclosure agreements signed by Anderson and Weber, group visit to Weber’s home.
  • Participation during public input at council meetings with written remarks for the public record.
  • Protests outside of city hall prior to every council meeting.
  • Letters to the editor, maybe as a group or individually laying out concerns and requesting answers.
  • Phone calls and emails to city council members requesting answers.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Shame on us…

How do you spot a woman-hater? By the way they talk about women, treat women, react to women, and represent women.  So, what to do about casual sexism? Don’t perpetrate it yourself, call it when you see it and fight any man defending his misogyny.
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/30/casual-sexism-misogyny

TODAY AT 3:30 PM THE RESIDENTS OF NEW BUFFALO ARE ALLOWING Mayor Weber TO JUDGE AND Moral-Compass-Decisions (1)DESTROY THE VOLUNTEERISM OF TWO INNOCENT MEN ….shame on us.

Mayor Weber lost his moral compass when he decided to earn a living using derogatory names of women and girls body parts and the proof is in the way he runs the city while he:

Violates City ordinances by allowing City Manager Anderson along with a private consultant to write the master plan.  “It shall be the function and duty of the Planning Commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the City, including any areas outside its boundaries which, in the Commission’s judgment, bear relation to the planning of the City.”

Violates City PUD zoning ordinances by allowing Merchant Street Cottages developers to continue new construction when the development is clearly violating ordinances.

Violates the Michigan Planning Enabling Act by bypassing the Planning Commission so he can control the beach, downtown enhancements, streets, and open spaces  ” A street; square, park, playground, public way, ground, or other open space; or public building or other structure shall not be constructed or authorized for construction in an area covered by a municipal master plan unless the location, character, and extent of the street, public way, open space, structure, or utility have been submitted to the planning commission by the legislative body or other body having jurisdiction over the authorization or financing of the project and has been approved by the planning commission.”

Violated State law when the City pressed charges against a private home owner couple causing them to spend over $10,000 in court costs to prove they were right.  At the same time, Weber spent our tax money in his attempt to violate the law.

Tried to violate City ordinances by using our tax dollars to make land use decisions himself bypassing,  “The Planning Commission shall have final review and approval authority for all special land uses.”

Violated the public trust when he voted against the will of the voters to approve a Safe Route to School grant application that was based on false statements.

Violated the Michigan Planning Enabling Act by not having a current master plan since the plan is 6 years out of date.

 

 

 

Mayor Weber’s Secret Business Enterprise

Mayor Weber's Oath of Office

Mayor Weber’s Oath of Office

The City of New Buffalo is under siege by a mayor who lacks personal ethical working standards. We watched Mayor Pete Weber, who without a second thought, approve the Safe Route to Schools grant that was based on false information, wasted tax dollars, and went against the wishes of the majority of home owners and we watched him ruthlessly waste tax porno exists for the losersdollars for legal fees to try to dismantle the City’s planning process that is written into law through State laws and local ordinances.  We have seen him brazenly attack the leadership of the Planning Commission by drastically misusing State law to conduct a tribunal against them and we painfully watch his condescending treatment of the only female on the council, Council member Donna Messinger.

Many of us wondered about Weber’s total disregard for transparency and that his choices to conduct city business are either in barely announced special meeting or behind closed doors. Last week I received a disturbing anonymous email that put the puzzle pieces together that appears to show Weber’s secret personal life that illustrates the character of a man with low moral values but who we elected to be in charge of the future of our city.  Since this is the stuff that blackmail is made of, perhaps City Manager Anderson or someone else is aware of Weber’s secret life, using it to force Weber into certain decision-making.

The anonymous email writer stated “What is shocking is that we don’t see anything about men. As such one could classify his public mental & physical creations as misogynistic. This can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, hostility, male supremacist ideas, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women. Not anything close to what the public leader of a moral group of people should be involved with.”

After receiving the email, I consulted with internet experts to varify that the information sent to me was factual and traceable.  It appears that Mayor Pete Weber sells domain names that can only be intended for porno web-sites.

For the sake of all descent residents in New Buffalo, Mayor Weber must immediately step down.  And the men on the city council should rescind Weber’s highly unethical legislative decisions that were conceived by Anderson and are misusing tax dollars including accepting the Safe Routes to School grant Federal tax money that honest working home owners did not want or need and criticized as a waste of tax dollars.  Weber’s and Anderson’s decision for tribunals to try innocent members of the Planning Commissions needs to be rescinded by the men on themen who respect women city council as does the demoralizing of the City’s planning protocols by the dismantling of the Planning Commission.  The men on the city council need to end the legal battle the City started against the Planning Commission and the local drug store.  The other men on the council need to reject all the unethical practices of Mayor Weber because if they continue to endorse unethical decisions from a man who deals in porno web-site domains, they are no better than him.

Here are the steps to follow to verify Mayor Weber’s secret life as directed to me by the anonymous email sender and my web-site expert.  Although Weber might try to delete many of the procedures, the domains are listed and are accessible to the public, these sites are not private.

1.) Review the Berrien County Official – Candidate List from May 5, 2015, you will find Pete’s registered phone number and email address.  http://www.berriencounty.org/uploaded/election/candidate_list_may5_2015.pdf

2.) Using the reverse domain lookup tool found at http://viewdns.info/reversewhois/, type in Mayor Weber’s email address PeterFWeber007@hotmail.com  from the 1st step. A long list of the domains owned by Pete will be shown.  Many are sex related domains.

3.) Using the who is lookup tool found at https://whois.icann.org/en and typing in one of the individual domain such as bigtittiesmassage.com  from the list in the 2nd step proves Pete is the domain registrants using his alias name (Pete Webber).The phone number and email address match the ones found in the 1st step.

4.) Below is what I found when I went to https://www.godaddy.com/ and typed in one of the individual domains, bigtittiesmassage.om from the list in the 2nd step demonstrates Pete has that particular domain up for auction.

.big daddy

Here is a partial list of the domains he owns, There may be many that are only available if you are willing to pay a fee.

peterfweber007@hotmail.com -December2015-Whoisology Reverse Whois Results

The fools at city hall do it again

 

City Manager Anderson

City Manager Anderson

lies

Listen up Mayor Weber

Listen up Mayor Weber

As the men of the city council, their ever wrong city manager, Rob Anderson and their money grabbing city attorney huddle around a table at city hall later today on April Fools Day, they again will plan to eliminate the leadership of the Planning Commission, Chair Pat Fisher and Vice chair Ray Kirkus.  This will be another great opportunity for Anderson to lord over the men on the council and for the city attorney to line his pockets at the expense of the tax payers.

The guys at city hall

The guys at city hall

Today Fisher and Kirkus were served with papers for another tribunal set for Wednesday, April 6. When do the men on the city council learn?  Last night the men on the council appointed just one person to sit on the Planning Commission so there is just barely a quorum. When they eliminate the leadership, there will no longer be a quorum.  Anderson will keep the power of city planning with the help of the four council members performing as trained monkeys.

If the male council members continue to yank city planning Mayor Weberand writing the master plan out of the hands of the Planning Commission, they are the ones violating the Michigan Planning Enabling Act and city ordinances. They should be the ones facing a tribunal by their constituents since they were elected to uphold laws, ordinances and policies, not take orders from Anderson.

When will the men on the council stop being duped by Anderson and start fools twiceaccepting responsibility for the mess they are making?  And when will they realize that the legal opinions from the city attorney lead to more and more useless legal fees that only deplete city resources.  Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me.  Mayor Weber, Council members O’Donnell, Spirito, and Peterson, shame on you.

 

 

Could it be?

Injured Party

Injured Party

Since the New Buffalo zoning ordinance states very clearly in one simple sentence that the Planning Commission shall make all land use decisions and the MI Enabling Act states very clearly that to appeal a land use decision, you must own adjoining property, anyone reading the local ordinance and State law should be very capable of understanding them.  The members of the Planning Commission understood the laws quite well but City Manager Anderson who is also the city’s zoning administrator, Mayor Weber, the men on the council, and the team of city attorneys not so much.

 

Could it be…

that the team of city attorneys can read but chose to use  “mayhem on main street” as their minionslegal defense knowing there was no way in hell that this would pass as legalese to Judge Donahue just so they could bill over $100,000 in legal costs just because they know the men on the council will pay it?  If the team of attorneys are not smart enough to understand municipal law, the city council members should hire another firm and if the current team is just bilking the city for all they can get, this too is reason for the council to end the relationship and start anew.

Could it be…

that City Manager Anderson who also acts as the city’s zoning administrator with a masters new rob picturedegree from Harvard couldn’t read and understand those two simple statements of law?  Or did he have an ulterior motive, such as, hijacking the city’s planning process so he could proceed with his own downtown plans and his own master plan without the interference by the Planning Commissioners who by law, have oversight authority for all city land use projects and authority to author the master plan?  He couldn’t have started a 100 grand plus lawsuit to begin, in his words, a conversation with the planning commissioners.  If he claims ignorance as his excuse, the city council should hire another person to act as the city’s zoning administrator, someone who understands zoning, planning, and the law.  This could save the city thousands of dollars in legal fees but if as city manager, his goal was to ignore the laws and proceed with city planning on his own, the city council should hire a city manager they can trust to follow the law and not cause “mayhem at city hall.”

Could it be…

that the men on the council, including the mayor, are not smart enough to know when the city manager is lying to them and the city Mark Twsinattorneys are playing them for fools?  Or do they have ulterior motives like some type of business interest in the downtown that needs their support?  Either way, they aren’t worth keeping since that isn’t why we elected them.

Could it be….

that we can’t trust any of them?

 

“The way you come to a solution is bringing all the parties to the table and having all the parties be a part of the discourse”

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At last night’s city council meeting, City Manager Rob Anderson said he and his engineer are having private conversations with the new owners of the Fountain Square property to consider their infrastructure needs as Anderson moves forward with his downtown development plan, The Planning Commissioners have not been a part of any of these discussions but when the time comes for a vote by the city council, Anderson will most likely be able to count on a 4 to 1 vote in his favor whether he includes the Planning Commission or not.

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In 2012, Danny Glover joined Detroit citizens and the Planning Commission to protest a land grab by a multi millionaire. The land deal was being negotiated with the help of Planning and Development Director Rob Anderson who is now the city manager of the City of New Buffalo.  The property, a mile from the newly refurbished riverfront and near trendy Indian Village, was sold to the millionaire financier for $300 dollars a lot.  The protesters said the citizens were not made aware of public hearings for this project and had not been a part of the decision making.  Glover stated “The way you come to a solution is bringing all the parties to the table and having all the parties be a part of the discourse….Why not engage people in a different way and bring people to the table and treat them not simply as subjects but treat them as human beings and partners in the project.”  Anderson got a 5 to 4 vote of the Detroit council members to support the multi millionaire’s land grab.  It appears he is using the same technique in New Buffalo, make deals without consult or support of the Planning Commission and then expect a 4 to 1 vote of the city council members to support him.    

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Rob Anderson speaking during a public hearing in Detroit that was called the night before the city council members were to vote on the issue because protesters felt their voices were not being heard.

Land sale draws huge, negative reaction at public hearing in Detroit