Josh Champlin

Let me get this straight, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners, or at least most of them, voted in favor of huge bonuses for themselves as part of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

And then they attempted to justify the payoffs with a poorly-written press release that claimed the public “misinterpreted” the gesture?

Then they backtracked after an OMA lawsuit was filed and the prosecutor told them the payoffs were illegal?

And then they lost in court?

What is going on here, people?

The individuals who were included on the discussions to determine who got how much need to be removed from office and face criminal charges for embezzlement — because that’s what they did. They tried to steal taxpayer money: your money.

This was a criminal act, shrouded in “executive session,” even though no such thing exists, according to Michigan law.

Speaking with at least 60 to 70 people from every walk of life since the controversy has come to light, the words I’ve heard the most often were disgusted, embarrassed, ashamed.

These bonuses awarded to elected (and unelected) officials are nothing more than graft, under the color of legitimacy.

Do you know what people called us even before the latest episode? Hazzard County. Mayberry.

We should be better than this.

The officials who decided to fork out the federal money to themselves do not represent me.

A lawsuit by a Shiawassee County resident and her intrepid attorney have forced the county’s administration to stop dead in their tracks.

Except for the integrity of one county commissioner, who has been ridiculed, shouted down, and vilified by disingenuous local Facebook bloggers who will defend the board and other county officials no matter what, especially after their so-called credibility has been ruined — this most recent county board scandal may never have been brought to public attention.

Residents need to appreciate Commissioner Marlene Webster, R-District 1, for doing the right thing for Shiawassee County — especially when the board chairman just bangs a gavel when she says anything that challenges their lies and obfuscation.

She is a woman who wants to do the right thing for residents and provides an example to us all.

And more thanks are due to 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart, who immediately recused himself due to possible conflicts, along with Prosecutor Scott Koerner, who issued a public statement saying the payoffs in question were illegal — and never discussed in his presence, despite claims to the contrary.

Those three officials did the right thing. Even when the board can mess with and threaten funding for their respective departments, these individuals kept in mind the best interests of their constituents. And let’s not forget — they were honest.

That’s the good. Here’s the bad.

I have been banging my head up against this wall of corruption, secrecy, back-room deals, wink-and-nod agreements, and the “good-ol-boy” network for more than three years.

The people who decided the amounts need to be criminally charged.

Koerner likely can’t himself bring charges due to a conflict of interest.

It’s my sincere hope that the Michigan Attorney General’s Office files charges against the commissioners and unelected officials who had the temerity to vote themselves these outsized “hazard pay” bonuses.

If any normal citizen had done this, they would be facing felony embezzlement.

The public is going to show up to the 5 p.m. Sunday meeting. It’s past time to let the elected officials, and their handlers, know exactly what residents think of their latest actions.

(2) comments

NickyLindsay

Bravo! As usual, you hit the nail right on the head. Im sure those handlers, will make sure the Argus never gets a statement about anything in the future. They can't control the narrative the way they can with Tom Manke.

Mother Hen

Well said. County Coordinator Brian Boggs needs to be held accountable, along with his corrupt and lying cronies on the Board of Commissioners.

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