Dirty Tricks at City Hall

images (1).jpgFirst City Manager Dave Richards and City Clerk Lori Vander Clay took it upon themselves to violate a City Council directive to video stream all public meetings due to their apparent concern that $4,000 a year of your tax dollars was too high a price for government transparency.  This is after, thanks to the taxpayers, the entire city staff received an end of the year bonus and Richards was provided 12 extra sick days even though he hadn’t even completed a year of service to the city.  While using our money to eliminate our access to government transparency, they also violated the City Charter requirement to post Council proceedings within 15 days of the meeting.

The two of them also use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in an another attempt togpvernment secrecy obstruct government access while wasting taxpayers money. Without a policy or directive from the City Council , Richards and Vander Clay decided on their own to publish on the City’s website the names of citizens requesting public information while at the same time eliminating  public meetings from the website.

New Buffalo City Vehicle

The following is an example of how they waste their time and tax dollars in an attempt to hinder access to public information.  Here’s the background. On a sunny day in April 2017, Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh plowed a city truck into a vehicle in downtown New Buffalo.  Although he admitted to Sheriff Deputy Richard Edgerle that he wasn’t paying attention while driving, ran a stop sign and caused over $6,000 of damage to the city vehicle, Ashbaugh wasn’t issued a ticket nor was he required to take a drug test. Ashbaugh did not get a reprimand and it was kept top secret by Richards and Vander Clay.  This is what led to an enquiry as to whether the city manager followed city policy and required a drug test since the sheriff deputy let Ashbaugh skate. Sheriff Report 

February 2, 2018, I completed a FOIA request ‘Please forward me a copy of proof that Tony Ashbaugh was screened for a controlled substance and/or alcohol on April 19, 2017 after having an accident with a city owned vehicle.’ 

February 8, 2018, City Clerk Vander Clay responded that the City had followed policy. FOIA Response 1

February 8, 2018, I completed another FOIA request stating that I had requested proof that Ashbaugh completed a drug test and again requesting the proof.

February 13, 2018, Vander Clay provided me with a copy of Ashaugh’s visit for medical attention due to the accident and worker’s compensation. FOIA Response 2

February 14, 2018, I appealed to Richards that I received the incorrect documentation from Vander Clay.

February 21, 2018, in a certified letter, Richards stated that my request was completed through the FOIA response from Vander Clay. FOIA Appeal Response

February 26, 2018, through a FOIA request I wrote the following to Vander Clay ‘Please forward me the results of Tony Ashbaugh’s drug test dated April 19, 2017. Include the invoice or bill for the procedure’

March 2, 2018, one month from my original request, Vander Clay finally provided me proof that Ashbaugh completed a city policy mandated drug test.  FOIA Response 3

download.jpgThese dirty tricks at city hall by City Manager Richards and City Clerk Vander Clay to deny our access to public information increases cost to taxpayers and are allowed, maybe even encouraged,  by the City Council.

15 thoughts on “Dirty Tricks at City Hall

  1. Rubia Jasinevicius

    I agree there is more to follow. Though, I would hesitate what appears to be in-cahoots council members as gullible.

  2. Rubia Jasinevicius

    Can’t argue when facts are presented; and the facts point to and further support unethical practices in the City.

  3. Rubia Jasinevicius

    Ray, that’s a very good point. Though, the documentation provided still raises concerns and questions.

    Susan, ignore those stopping to name calling. They lack the ability to communicate effectively. Looking back into my Catholic schooling, Sister Osmunda would say, “Little minds use little words.”

  4. Susan Gotfried Post author

    The additional expenditures come from a city manager and city clerk not doing their jobs but instead trying to suppress public information. Thanks Ray. I understand Rubia’s frustration, if they had nothing to hide, why didn’t they give me the information I requested the first time instead of playing their silly little game that violates the Freedom of Information Act?

  5. Ray

    Rubia, time difference between Mich and Ind should be taken into account. using that, you have over an hour and a half.
    Pamela, what is your point besides name calling? How, exactly, has Susan caused expenditures of money and aggravation? I may not agree with her on many issues or some battles she picks, but she is only seeking honest and transparent government here in NB, clearly something we don’t have.

  6. Susan Gotfried Post author

    Donna, it is amazing to me that when corruption in government is exposed, it is the person doing the exposing that is blamed. I began challenging the decision made by local government years ago, thinking that if you got rid of the abusers your work would be done. The fact is the abusers get worse and I am glad to be able to report it since the local newspapers don’t provide that service.

    “I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.” Eleanor Roosevelt

  7. Donna

    Pamela, calling people names never solves anything, haven’t you been paying attention to our president? Also, you must not pay taxes in New Buffalo? If you did then you would be concerned about what is going on at city hall.

  8. Susan Gotfried Post author

    You make great points, especially that it would have been almost impossible to have the drug test that quickly after the accident and that there were no injury reported at the accident site.

  9. Susan Gotfried Post author

    George, I received the photo through a FOIA request to Berrien County. I do my detective work for free, the city employees use tax dollars to try to stop it.

  10. olddog5

    Re; Truck with top secret damage. Where did the photo come from??? Or is this a stock photo of a similar truck. is this truck now for sale as damaged goods??? Who is paying for all of this detective work??? Just wondering. happy spring…

  11. Rubia Jasinevicius

    There is a great deal peculiar.

    The Deputy did not report any injuries to Ashbaugh or to Meyer. Then, why is there an alleged injury treatment at Franciscan? Is the City’s insurance company paying for an alleged injury. Peculiar.

    A breathalizer test should have been conducted by the Deputy. If not, then the City’s Safety Director should have performed a breathalizer immediately at the accident site. Breathalizer tests can be purchased, and it seems ‘units’ were purchased at the Franciscan facility. Peculiar.

    DOT and OSHA certified labs do not conduct breathalizer tests for alcohol, rather, a blood test is mandated after an accident.

    The results of the urinalysis (which tests for 5 substances) are not provided. There is nothing to indicate Ashbaugh passed or failed. The medical reviewer did not sign the urinalysis portion of the alleged test.

    Finally, the time frame. The Deputy reports the accident occurred at 9:10 am. If you take into account the time to fill a report, quickly review insurance information, and more would take at least 10 to 15 minutes. Then, to have the cars towed, at least another 10 to 15 minutes, which would place us at about 9:40 am. The ride to Michigan City’s Franciscan Facility on Franklin is 15-20 minutes. Though, the test states it was 9:57 am. No time to sign-in let alone to unzip trousers to take the test.

    It is quite peculiar.

  12. Pamela Graff

    you cause the city more money and more aggravation than you’re worth. You’re just a vindictive bitch

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