WASHTENAU COUNTY, MI – A Washtenaw County judge on Wednesday, Sept. 21 dismissed a lawsuit filed by Scio Township’s elected clerk against the rest of the township board.
Clerk Jessica Flintoft has intervened in efforts to fix what she says is a critical staff shortage in the city’s finance team, in a lawsuit alleging her colleagues illegally limited her authority under Michigan law.
Circuit Court Judge Timothy Connors said he saw no legal basis to vacate two city decisions that prevented Flintoft from doing her job.
They refrained from entering into the question of whether these were wise steps to be taken by the elected body.
“It’s really not my business,” Connors said, adding that they are the concern of city officials and voters, not the courts.
Flintoft attorney Mark Magyar argued the case, using a 1987 Michigan Court of Appeals decision over who should receive town mail and where meeting minutes should be typed in Livingston County’s Green Oak Township. At this time, the court set aside the decisions of the city administration that they believe are obstacles to the city clerk’s ability to fulfill her duties.
But Connors said he found the last paragraph of the 35-year-old’s opinion too profound.
In it, the appeals court judges wanted to register their dismay that the parties had spent $15,000 on legal representation and burdened the courts because of a “disagreement between city officers.”
“We view this as an affront to the legal system and the taxpayers of the city and an embarrassment to the parties involved. “We hope that in the future, such divisive behavior will be set aside and it will lead to more effective behavior,” Connors said, referring to the proposal.
Wednesday marked the third time this year that Connors refused to overturn decisions made by Siccio leaders. In February, he dismissed a lawsuit by residents challenging the legality of a move that doubled the city supervisor’s pay.
And in April he refused to grant a motion to intervene to protect a controversial city council finance worker’s contract in the Flintoft case, which the judge said was inappropriate to “micromanage” an elected municipal body.
Read more: A judge filed a lawsuit against the Scio Township clerk on her own board.
After Wednesday’s ruling and another legal defeat, the secretary refused.
“I intend to appeal today’s decision. (Scio) The Board of Trustees violated the law by violating my legal obligations as the elected clerk of the township. The board continues the dangerous practice of dissolving checks and balances on public funds,” she said in a statement.
McGirr asked the judge on Wednesday to overturn two city ordinances that set out job descriptions for the city supervisor and manager, citing “exploitative duties” with the clerk, who must maintain city records.
Following the appointment of interim manager James Merte in May, Flinttoft was unable to attend due to illness. Merte contacted the company that provides the city’s record-keeping software, obtained administrative services and denied access to Flintoff, Magir said, pointing to the changed records.
“She raised everything about it,” Flintoft said, explaining that read/write access was restored after she filed an amended complaint on May 19. But the lawyer said, Flintoff still lacks administrative rights, limiting powers, the secretary said. A must have by law on fantasy books.
Magyar also said Flintoff should have the authority to recommend candidates for the city’s finance director position, which has been vacant since November of last year and whose duties have been “plastered” by unfilled staff members, limiting the secretary’s ability to fill them. Obligations.
Attorney Michael Homier, representing the township board, argued that the secretary was trying to improperly expand the interpretation of her duties under the law.
“The judiciary is not the place to settle political points or grievances,” he said. “This is it.”
Homer noted that some records are held by the clerk only, and are available to the public for use under the Freedom of Information Act and other city government departments. As for staffing, he said this was a “policy misunderstanding” in the city and the real solution was the ballot box at the next election.
While Majir disagreed with this characterization, Judge Connors seemed to find it persuasive, saying the writer had found no legal basis to do what he requested, and acknowledged that the case was likely to go on appeal.
More from The Ann Arbor News:
The city of Sassio appointed a second trustee this year in opposition to the call for a special election
Political discord, the result of the transfer, lowered the Scio Township’s bond rating
Ann Arbor spent $333,000 on additional wells to monitor pollution.
Ann Arbor OKs deal for big Stadium Boulevard development