By Elisabeth Waldon | Daily News | April 08, 2022 | www.thedailynews.cc
DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP – An attorney for four Douglass Township Board members read aloud a retraction and apology letter on Wednesday. The letter was previously filed with the Montcalm County Election Commission.
Supervisor Terry Anderson, Clerk Ronda Snyder, Treasurer Amy Laper and Trustee Tom Jeppesen all signed the retraction letter regarding allegations they made against Cindy Shick, whom the township board ousted from the Planning Commission in January.
The four township board members originally wrote a letter to the Election Commission on Feb. 23 as part of their defense against ongoing recall efforts. That letter contained screenshots alleging to show Shick allowing attorney Josh Nolan to view and edit Planning Commission meeting minutes and agendas that were sent to Snyder through Google Drive. Shick has denied this accusation and said Snyder was the one who shared Shick’s “share with Ronda” folder and all contents with a different email for Nolan, giving him editing privileges to all current and future documents.
Anderson told the Daily News last week that attorney Trent Hilding of Vestaburg wrote the retraction and apology letter on behalf of Anderson, Snyder, Laper and Jeppesen as individuals – not as a township board. The letter was written the same day the township board met in closed session with another attorney, Ron Redick, to discuss a written legal opinion regarding “an electronic security breach.”
Hilding read the letter aloud during Wednesday evening’s Douglass Township Board meeting, which was a short meeting, clocking in at around 20 minutes despite the large number of people in attendance.
“We got a letter drafted to apologize for Cindy and I’m going to have Trent read it,” Anderson told those present. “He represented the four of us and he agreed to read it for us.”
After Hilding read the letter aloud, the board then moved on to public comment.
“The apology for Cindy?” asked township resident Linda Reynolds. “Nobody could personally say ‘I’m sorry’ that the accusations you made were false? Nobody can say it personally, you had to have your attorney do it?”
“I’ll say it: I’m sorry Cindy,” Anderson said. “And I’ll tell Cindy myself that I’m sorry.”
“And the error came from who?” Reynolds asked. “Did Josh (Nolan) have editing on it? There was editing. If it wasn’t Cindy, then who?”
“That was inconclusive,” Laper responded.
“The whole thing ended up being inconclusive,” Anderson added.
Shick was present at Wednesday’s meeting, but she did not publicly speak.
Township board members then adjourned the meeting.
“Not so funny now, is it Tom?” Joe Hansen of Stanton yelled from the audience (referring to when Jeppesen openly laughed as Shick defended herself against the Google Drive allegations during the March 2 township board meeting).
“I think it’s hilarious,” Jeppesen sarcastically responded to Hansen.
Also Wednesday, the township board voted 5-0 to table paying April’s bills until their budget hearing, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. today. The board also voted 5-0 to amend the last fiscal year budget, which ended March 31.
The township’s budget meeting and budget hearing have both been delayed due to the township not properly posting public notices about both meetings.
Township resident Wendie Switala questioned the board amending its budget for the prior budget year after the fact.
“You’re amending a budget after the end of the fiscal year? How can you do that?” she asked.
“We can do it,” Anderson responded. “We’re not going to pay any bills until after the new budget is passed. As you know, the posting got messed up and our meetings got messed up. According to our attorney, we can do this, it’s not a problem. We don’t have a choice, we’ve got do to it. We won’t be able to pay any bills until after Friday.”
Switala also said she contacted the township a week ago regarding their most recent budget hearing public notice, which was in last Friday’s Daily News.
“Your notice for the budget hearing is still not correct,” Switala said.
“What’s wrong with it now?” Anderson asked.
“It’s incomplete with statutory language,” Switala said.
“We’ll find out tomorrow. I’ll get ahold of (attorney) Ron (Redick),” Anderson responded.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the board voted – again – to approve and ratify a letter sent out to the public regarding the township’s wind ordinance process.
The township board sent out a Feb. 1 letter to the public but failed to vote on it beforehand. The board voted on March 2 to correct the oversight; however, one of the votes to approve the letter at the March 2 meeting was made by Deputy Treasurer Holli Almas. A deputy treasurer is not an elected official and is not allowed to cast votes per state law.
The board voted again Wednesday to approve and ratify the wind letter, this time with all five elected board members voting “yes.”
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URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2022/04/08/douglass-township-board-members-say-fault-of-google-drive-edit-incident-inconclusive/