by Judy Reed
Three running for Cedar Springs City Council
Three city residents have turned in petitions to run for two seats on City Council: Mark Fankhauser, incumbent; Perry Hopkins, owner of Perry’s Place LLC; and Pamela Conley, a former council member. Fankhauser was appointed in the fall of 2012 to fill out the term of Neil Gomez, who resigned. Ken Benham, the other incumbent’s seat that is up for grabs, is not running again.
Mark Laws, who ran as a candidate last year, took out a petition but did not return it, according to City Clerk Linda Christensen. He is the citizen behind the recall of councilors Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer, and he said he felt that there was too much going on with that.
Candidates may still register as a write-in by October 24 at 4 p.m., but their name will not appear on the ballot.
Reminder about grass cutting
City Manager Thad Taylor is reminding residents and business owners that the city has an ordinance that their lawn cannot be anymore than eight inches tall within 200 feet of any structure.
“We are not going to come out with a ruler and tell you the grass is 8-1/4 inches tall,” remarked Taylor. “We are just asking for compliance and for people to do their part as good, responsible members of the community.”
The ordinance states that it is the owner or occupant’s responsibility to maintain the lawn. If they don’t, the city can cut it or hire someone to do it, and then levy the costs as a special assessment on the property. “We don’t want to do that,” explained Taylor. “We just want the homeowners or tenants to be responsible so we can look good as a community.”
Proposal for Sheriff Department to do policing
With the retirement of Chief Roger Parent on the horizon, the City Council has decided to ask the Kent County Sheriff Department to give them a proposal on what it would cost for them to take over the policing duties for Cedar Springs. The City already had a posting out for a police chief, but the question has come up a couple of times on whether money could be saved by going to the Sheriff Department instead of our own full time police force, so the Council directed City Manager Thad Taylor to check out what it would cost for them to provide the same level of service the city currently provides.
On Tuesday, May 13, Taylor and Chief Parent (who previously was with the Sheriff Department) met with Sheriff Stelma and his staff. “We had some questions and got some clarifications, and left with a good understanding of what the expectations would be,” said Taylor. He noted that the Sheriff would get back to them on Monday and offer them a few different proposals.
This is not the first time this has been considered. It was last considered around 2005 or 2006.
Response letter to alleged campaign finance violation
The City of Cedar Springs has hired the firm of Miller Canfield to draft the response to the complaint filed against them by Mark Laws with the Secretary of State regarding a violation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. They received the notice of the complaint filed against each member of the City Council, the City Attorney and City Manager. The complaint alleged that Section 57(1) of the MCFA, Michigan Compiled Law 169.257(1) prohibited a public body or an individual acting on its behalf from using or authorizing the use of public resources to make a contribution or expenditure in an election.
The complaint alleged that members of the City Council authorized an investigation concerning the truth or factual nature of the assertions presented on a recall petition. The letter stated the persons named in the complaint could file a written response within 15 business days of the receipt of the letter. Responses could be filed individually or collectively, Taylor said. The City Attorney had suggested that since he was also named in the complaint, that the City use another law firm to draft a response. He had suggested using Miller, Canfield as the law firm to draft the response.
Taylor said that the city got an extension until May 27 file the response. Some members of the council have reserved the right to review the letter before signing, and some may send their own letter.
The Post asked Taylor if by spending money on this, would they be committing the same alleged offense again, since it was related to the recall? He explained that they didn’t want to spend the money, but since this is a criminal offense they are defending themselves against, they felt they needed a lawyer to do it. The letter is currently being drafted.