No reply

At the December 19, 2017 City Council meeting, former City Council member, Donna Messinger requested the City Council investigate the ethics complaint she filed a year before on December 23, 2016 against Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh, Mayor O’Donnell and City Council members Spirito and Kroll.  When she first requested an investigation at the January 17, 2017 council meeting, Mayor O’Donnell told her due to a legal opinion by the city attorney, the complaint could not be addressed  until the Ray Kirkus Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) lawsuit was resolved. O’Donnell went on to publicly state that he believed the ethics complaint against him was “frivolous” although he authorized $10,000 for an investigation of a truly baseless and frivolous ethics complaint filed by Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh against then Police Chief Larry Pitchford.

Although Ashbaugh didn’t want two public surveillance videos to become public, one images (18)that revealed that he spoke about a co-worker shooting Messinger at a council meeting, the videos were made public in October 2017.  Based on O’Donnell’s promise to address her ethics complaint once the FOIA lawsuit was settled, Messinger in good faith again requested an investigation a year after the infraction took place. She heard nothing from the mayor or any of the four council members who didn’t bother to discuss the issue or contact Messinger.  This is truly disrespectful after stringing her on for a year, leading her on to believe they would investigate it.  It appears that a street supervisor’s concern about public videos becoming public is more important to the mayor and council members than a woman worried about violence against her. Let’s face it, the mayor and council members have realized they can ignore the concerns and issues of the public, protect the inappropriate behavior of employees and only focus on the issues their supporters care about.  Although Section D of the Code of Ethics ordinance states a public official shall treat all members of the public with professional courtesy, impartiality, fairness and equality, it appears none of the council members worry about their own ethics as long as their base supports them.

Below is the request made by former City Council member Donna Messinger.  Attached is her original ethics complaint.  Donna Messinger’s Ethics Complaint

December 19, 2017
TO:  Mayor Lou O’Donnell, Council members Ennis, Robertson, Spirito, and Kroll

At the January 17, 2017 New Buffalo City Council meeting, I requested my December 23, 2016 ethics complaint be addressed. Mayor Lou O’Donnell stated that the Council was advised by its attorneys not to comment on this complaint until Mr. Kirkus’ Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was resolved.  Mayor O’Donnell further stated that he believed my complaint to be ‘frivolous’. Because the Mayor’s opinion led to the Council not seriously considering a violent threat voiced by a male employee against the only female council member, it is now being investigated by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Although Mayor O’Donnell assured Council member Ennis that I was told that city attorneys had advised the Mayor not to address my complaint until Mr. Kirkus’ lawsuit was resolved, I never received any such communication. I request copies of that communication and copies of the opinions from the attorneys that advised the Council not to address my complaint until after the lawsuit was resolved. I don’t believe they exist. 

The Council members are ethically obligated to review the statement made by Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh concerning me. This statement can be found on the Sunday, August 7, 2016 public audio surveillance recording in city hall at 9:55 am when Mr. Ashbaugh used the key to the file cabinet in the front office to access a psychological evaluation in the personnel file of Diana (Selir), a female employee.  Then he stated ‘Hey Donna, when you’re bitching at council meetings, do you ever worry about Diana shooting you?  It’s okay, she’s sane!’  (Laughter)  At 14:27:26, Mr. Ashaugh said to Debra Lambrix who was also working in the office, ‘So they can listen in on us huh?’ and she replied, ‘uh-huh.’ Mr. Ashbaugh responded ‘if you’re listening, kiss my ass.’ Given that Mr. Ashbaugh understood that city officials could listen to the recorded conversation through electronic recording, I continue to contend that instead of trying to cover for a male employee’s inappropriate language concerning a female official, the Council had an obligation to address it at the time. My attached complaint still stands and I request it be resolved through the termination of the male employee because I don’t think it was frivolous nor was it innocent ‘locker talk.’

Donna Messinger

4 thoughts on “No reply

  1. Susan Gotfried Post author

    George, I have never said I write news, I write an opinion piece. Just because I am better at spreading actual news than the New Buffalo Times doesn’t make my opinion pieces news articles. But I have to say, most of the articles written by the New Buffalo Times report are so full of opinions, they should reclassify them as opinion pieces.

  2. olddog5

    Folks. There is a softer way to get across your points. eg… Mayor Daily once said’ ” notice the miseltoe on my coattails….”
    What is a mistic gymnasist???
    What tabliod??? all news is fake, cause it is written generally by a biast one person view. The New Buffalo times will certainly drive them out of business. a merry new year to all.

  3. Susan Gotfried Post author

    Well said. It should be disturbing to the public that the council approved the removal of public surveillance equipment that helped protect the property and life of the citizens of New Buffalo just to protect the activities one employee. This same employee plowed a city owned vehicle into an innocent driver’s car with no ramifications, not even a traffic ticket.

  4. Rubia Jasinevicius

    It seems city administration condones and supports male employees asserting aggressive behavior and language targeting women — misogyny.

    I believe there are many examples of the ingrained misogynistic culture of New Buffalo, in addition to the ethics complaint and civil rights complaint:
    A city employee’s spouse posting vile language about various women
    A city manager (current and past) or commission chair speaking disrespectfully and shouting at woman/women during public forum
    A city employee harassing a woman where a police report is required
    A city employee participating in aggressive intimidation and destruction of property
    The list goes on and on….

    It seems ‘men’ in city hall have Councilmen’s and a Councilwoman’s approval (to try) to intimidate, to frighten or collectively coerce against woman. If ‘men’ behave misogynistically in public, imagine their behavior when out of watch of the public eye? Is this why surveillance equipment is no longer located in the parking lot at City Hall?

    It’s disheartening to see so many woman in New Buffalo supporting the macho-misogyny, it is as if they are a collective group of abuse victims. Why would a local tabloid write skewed erroneous articles in what seems to support macho-misogynists? Is the tabloid a venue to display thwarted affections for their chosen ‘bad boys’. Is the thrill of submissiveness driving them to cater to the self-focus of their maniac macho ‘men’?

    No reply is equivocates to misogynistic continuance.

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