By Judy Reed
The attorneys for Cedar Springs Public Schools agree with the attorneys for the City of Cedar Springs that having Pamela Conley serve on both boards causes a conflict.
According to Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed, the attorneys will work together on a resolution that will be sent to the prosecutor’s office. “We will be moving forward with a letter that asks the prosecuting attorney to look into it,” noted McDermed.
Two weeks ago Conley was sworn into office on the Cedar Springs City Council, and also holds an office as trustee on the school board. The city lawyer, Jeff Sluggett, of Law Weathers, offered his opinion that Conley holding both offices constituted a breach of public duty, under the Michigan Incompatible Offices Act. He said that a long list of attorney general opinions have ruled that a trustee may not sit on both boards when entities have contracts with each other. He also said he thought that her taking the oath of office meant she would vacate her seat on the school board. He then recommended the case be sent to the prosecutor’s office for a ruling.
The school agreed there is a conflict, but stopped short of saying that Conley had vacated her seat. McDermed said she would continue to serve on the school board until they get clarification on the issue.
Conley has said that she has two lawyers who disagree, and she does not believe there is a conflict as long as she abstains from voting on issues where the school and city are both involved.
According to McDermend, Conley abstained Monday evening from voting on the school board’s resolution to let the City of Cedar Springs collect the summer taxes for the district.
“I really don’t think it’s her intent to cause disruption or make this a big legal matter,” said McDermed. “She just believes in the principle of the thing.”