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Strouse sheds light on county shortcomings

This is a letter by Commissioner Leonard R. Strouse of the 3rd District to inform the Citizens of Clare County we have major work to do concerning the BUDGET – as in real life other problems also are on the proverbial front burner.

Sometime on Tuesday the 20th, several Clare County department heads were summoned to the County Sheriff Department to be interrogated by Detective Mike coon about a violation of the Open Meetings Act.  First Detective Coon went to the prosecutor apparently believing that Commissioner Lipovsky was his complainant.  The Prosecutor gave him the go-ahead to investigate.  The Sheriff must have gotten the same story.

Detective Coon then called in and interrogated all the following people to see if he could make a criminal case against Chairman David.  The list of department heads included:  Clerk Pam Mayfield, Treasurer Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger, and community Development Director Lore Ware.  In addition five Commissioners were summoned to be interviewed by Detective Coon.

I was asked to come to the Sheriffs Department, but due to a family funeral I was unable to attend at the requested time.  Then I was asked by Detective Coon to appear at 7:15 AM before the Commission meeting  (Commission meetings start at 9AM)  I learned the line of questioning centered on, the Ad hoc Committee, and if commissioner Berger was at the last Ad Hoc Committee meeting.  According to the Commissioners a suggestion of misappropriation of funds was also thrown into the mix.  Also, a mysterious e-mail from Tracy yard to Keith Yats, the 911 Director was shown to some who were interviewed.  No one as been able to obtain a copy of this e-mail.  Why were all these questions asked if it was regarding an open meetings act question?

Also some of the interviewed Commissioners and Department heads were asked about the proposal to be voted on and finalized at Wednesday’s Board meeting on 12/21.  Another question apparently asked was how could the Chairman possibly know in advance that he had the five votes needed to eliminate the Controllers title from Tracy Byard.  David always said that he thought he would have the five votes needed, not that he was sure he had five votes needed.

Late on Tuesday I was called by Sheriff Wilson and told not to come in on Wednesday at 7:15 am as the complaint ad been turned over to the Michigan State Police.  Chairman David related that sometime late in the evening on Tuesday he had received a call from Sheriff John Wilson to inform him that he had been named in a criminal complaint for violating Open Meetings Act.  And the complaint had been turned over to the Michigan State Police.

On Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners meeting of 12/21/11 heard Prosecutor Michele Ambrozaitis report to the Board that a complaint for a violation of the Open Meetings Act had been filed.  Commissioner David had been named as the suspect, and that the complaining witness was an unnamed Commissioner.  She also informed the board that the Commissioners’ name would appear on the complaint at the end of the investigation, if probable cause was found to charge Commissioner David.  That announcement by the Prosecutor led two Commissioners to begin explaining that they were not the ones who had made the complaint.

Immediately following the commission meeting on 12/21, Commissioner Karen Lipovsky attempted to talk with me, exclaiming that she was not the Complaining Witness.  I left without earing her out.  Later, I learned that Commissioner Lipovsky called several other commissioners to convince them that she was not the Complaining Witness.

That Wednesday evening I learned that Commissioner Lipovsky went to the Sheriffs Department after the Commission meeting to talk with Detective Coon to advise him that she was not his complaining witness.  I understand she also went to the Prosecutor’s office to talk with Prosecutor Ambrozaitis.

Sounds like she was successful, as Chairman David got a call from Sheriff Wilson later in the evening on Wednesday and from the State Police commander telling him that all charges had been dropped.

Detective Coon had spent all that time on a fishing expedition believing that Commissioner Lipovsky was his complaining witness.  It appears that Commissioner Lipovsky backed out.  But now Detective Coon needs a new complaining witness.  According to people interrogated, Detective Coon would not reveal who had made the complaint, saying it was an anonymous person.  On Wednesday after the commission meeting Chairman David and other Commissioners received a phone call from Commissioner Lipovsky explaining that she was not the complaining Witness and that it had all been a big misunderstanding.  They were told by Commissioner Lipovsky that Bill Coon had made the complaint to his son Detective Coon on behalf of her (Commissioner Lipovsky.)  Is that how the law works?

On Thursday morning 12/22, Chairman David received another phone call from Michigan State Police Post Commander Chris Stolicker informing him that a new complaining witness had been located and the charge was under investigation again.

Thursday afternoon 12-22-11 Sentinel Article by Rosemary Horvath –on the internet

The news article announces that Frost Township resident Bill coon is behind complaint accusing a majority of Clare County Commissioners of violating the Open Meetings act.  Prosecutor Ambrozaitis had explained that a commissioner was the complaint.  Also, the article only stated that the two likely suspects – Commissioners Karen Lipovsky and Lynn Grim – denied involvement.

Also how is it that after Commissioner Lipovsky bailed out, that the focus suddenly changes from Commissioner David to “a majority of the County Board?”  Could it be that after talking it over, Detective Coon ad company decided that it did look a little too obvious to go after only Commissioner David?  So the new found Complaining Witness changed to include “a majority of the County Board.”

A new complainant was found.  The new complainant turns out to be Bill Coon.  How did that come about?  Did Detective Coon call Bill coon the Police Chief of Frost Township or did he call Bill Coon the Trustee from the Board of United Rescue Ambulance Service (URS) or did he call Bill Coon his father?  No!  It turns out someone called Bill Coon the local citizen who was willing to step forward and become the new complaining witness.

Now! When and where did Citizen Coon receive the information he needed to become the complaining witness?  Certainly it was not from Commissioner Lipovsky who has insisted she had nothing to do with being a complaining witness.  Remember! It was all a big mix up!  Surly not from Detective coon who is the son of Citizen Coon.

As of this writing, the investigation is ongoing by the Michigan State Police to determine the charges tat will be brought, if any, against Chairman David or a majority of the commission.  If they do find a reason to bring charges against any of the Commissioners will they charge them with a violation of the Open Meetings Act, Misappropriation of Funds, Malfeasance in Office or a charge of daring to voting for what the majority thought was necessary?  Did all this come about because a Board of Commissioners vote was 5 to 2?

Something doesn’t add up

Leonard R. Strouse Commissioner
33rd District