Two East Lansing City Council members — Mark Meadows and Mayor Ruth Beier — resigned abruptly during Tuesday’s Council meeting following a 3-2 vote to terminate the City Attorney’s contract.
– Bill Weckesser
4 thoughts on “Beier and Meadows Resign from Council Following 3-2 Vote to Terminate City Attorney Contract // Bill Weckesser”
While we all understand what happened with the council this week, one may not understand the real motive of the undisputed illegal actions of the council.
The slight of hand removing the City Attorney and it’s set up of reasoning was merely moving him out of the way in preparation for actions to come.
Behind the scenes, and possibly in additional violations of public meetings act, this socialist council is plotting to defund the East Lansing Police Department.
Gone is the day when East Lansing was a wonderful town in which to live and raise children.
Please take notice and protect your families and be vigilant if the council.
I want to write to express my tremendous faith in the current East Lansing City Council members, including Jessy Rae Gregg, Lisa Babcock and our new Mayor, Aaron Stephens. I think they have acted ably and with diligence and foresight. We are fortunate as a City to have such hard working and intelligent Council members.
I am not sure why Mark Meadows & Ruth Beier resigned effective immediately—not in 30 days. Staying a month would allow 2 new City Council members to be appointed to fill their seats.
Their immediate resignation left the City without benefit of their experience, input & wise counsel in this next crucial month. We are on the eve of 40K MSU students returning to campus amidst a Pandemic & K-12 School reopening.
East Lansing now faces the Greatest Public Health/Economic Crisis since 1918 and the Great Depression.
Mark & Ruth abandoned taxpayers and voters to a 3 person City Council without a well stated reason or any real exigency (e.g. they’re not ill).
They left the City in the lurch just as Council is seeking to address how best to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the students return to MSU.
Let’s consider unfinished business.
The City Attorney’s contract termination isn’t complete or final until October 1. It can be revised or voted on again. If a different procedure is legally required, or a more complete notice. [I believe the agenda item gave all the notice the law requires.]
The Council could re-open the issue on Mark’s or Ruth’s motion.
I disagree Mark and Ruth when they said the City Council violated the Open Meetings Act (or the City Attorney’s contract).
There was no OMA violation or contract breach that was apparent from facts we know. This is true for at least seven reasons.
(1) Council can discuss terminating the City Attorney’s contract with 30 days’ notice at a meeting and vote.
(2) There is no legal requirement to go into Executive Session, as Ruth said, unless a City Attorney or a Council member requests it (the City Attorney didn’t request it nor did Ruth or Mark).
(3) Ruth said Council had to give reasons to terminate the City Attorney’s contract. They do not.
(4) Ruth said the City Attorney is entitled to “just cause” reasons before Council can vote to terminate his law firm’s contract. That’s untrue.
(5) Ruth said the City Attorney is entitled to a last chance warning — namely, to be told why Council wants to end his contract (along with a second chance (to “get better” / “to improve”). That’s not required by the Charter, ordinance or State law or by any contract.
(6) The City Council has no duty to tell it’s City Attorney why they wish to terminate him. Each Council member can have a different reason. Their vote to end the Contract — after allowing the City Attorney a chance to speak — is all the process he is due.
(7) The City Attorney serves at the pleasure of a majority of Council. When a majority loses confidence in the City Attorney, it is Council’s prerogative & dutyto end his contract — and you hire an Attorney they trust.
Bottom Line: It appears Ruth and Mark did not understand the scope of Council’s power to terminate the City Attorney’s contract by majority vote on 30 days notice — or they are mis-stating the rules.
That leaves Ruth’s and Mark’s claim Aaron Stephens, Jessy Gregg and Lisa Babcock all deliberated together to end the City Attorney’s contract outside a Meeting. We have no proof this happened — nor do Ruth or Mark.
If that happened, it may violate the Open Meetings Act. Mayor Stephens said it did not happen.
Council member Babcock said she talked with Council member Gregg and polled other Council members on how they’d vote. Polling is permissible if no deliberations occurred.
The Mayor and other Council members each said they would follow a different procedure if required. They were following the rules to end the City Attorney’s contract as they understood them. I think they got it right and followed the rules.
But I wish to give Mark and Ruth the benefit of the doubt. If they sincerely think an OMA violation or contract breach occurred, then they owe us a duty to rescind their resignation and return to take steps to remedy it.
Mark and Ruth can’t say it would be futile to hold another hearing on the contract if they think it is requires. They did not try and just quit. By doing so, they share equal responsibility for any mistakes made on this issue.
It cannot be Ruth’s and Mark’s intent to give Tom Yeadon a golden legal parachute. But that is what it looks like they were trying to do by saying the Open Meetings Act was violated without offering to fix the defect.
City Council could vote again on whether to terminate the City Attorney’s contract by October 1.
This would remove any potential claim that the OMA was violated. (After Mark/Ruth suggested an OMA violation, they should have stayed to vote to fix it.)
The City Attorney MUST acknowledge he has a CONFLICT OF INTEREST and that the Council has a right to hire an outside attorney to advise them on OMA and contract termination issues.
The City Attorney has an ethical duty to Council he cannot act as their sole attorney on issues relating to the termination of his contract. He had a duty when the Notice was sent out to put this on the agenda to tell the Council they have a right to get independent legal advice on this.
We have no record the City Attorney put in writing to Council they have a right to seek outside legal advice.
The City Attorney had a duty to tell them that. All voters/taxpayers have a stake in making sure it is done right.
I do not believe Council needs to take any further action. No violation of the Open Meetings Act appears to have occurred based on facts we know.
But Ruth and Mark argued so strongly that the Council violated the OMA and the City Attorney’s contract that this issue should be put to bed by a legal opinion from outside counsel.
Mark and Ruth could have avoided the need to pay outside counsel by simply staying for 30 more days and urging Council to take the easy steps to fix it.
Ruth practically drew the City Attorney a map on how to sue the City. Mark said similar things. I think this was political grandstanding. If they were serious, and wish to meet they duty, they can still withdraw their resignation to serve until replaced.
I am disappointed they quit so hastily when the job was not finished.
Personal differences with other Council members are not an excuse to quit in the middle of a meeting when there is unfinished business.
The battle against COVID-19 is heating up. These two fine public servants (Ruth Beier and Mark Meadows) should remain at least through the August 11 meeting.
We must take every step to fight the spread of COVID-19 as students come back in school at MSU/LCC & ELPS.
Key decisions must be made NOW.
Lives are in the balance —as we saw with Harper’s Covid-19 outbreak.
I hold Mark & Ruth accountable for not remaining to complete unfinished business. We must not let them shift blame to the remaining Council members —since they abdicated their duty to serve until replaced.
Patrick Levine Rose
East Lansing Resident
I’m about to head off the grid but just want to reply this:
Mr. Yeadon did advise council in writing that they would need outside counsel for that agenda item if they wanted counsel on it. I’ve seen the message.
I suspect Lisa Babcock, who led the action, decided against it because she understood the matter as Mr. Rose does, and she would have had to delay the matter with a vote to obtain counsel, etc.
As Mr. Rose notes, the East Lansing City Attorney is an independent contractor who serves at the will of Council majority. It’s not an employee position. (And it’s not supposed to be a dynasty.)
If the remaining 3 members were in cahoots, they put on quite a show that day. I spoke earlier that day to two of them who were quite nervous they would be in a minority vote to terminate. The fear was understandable. As it turns out, they had 3 votes. After the Center City bond debacle, based on Mark’s answers to my remarks at public comment, I thought they might have four.
Just FYI, Mark Meadows has helped me with the bond problem before and since his resignation. That is going to be a complex and costly problem. We need a platoon of good lawyers right now. We needed them in 2017. It might have saved us $6M in TIF.
I would caution those who are quick to judge the behavior of city council the other night.
Yes, gather your children, hide your silver and activate your electric fence in case misspent money and corruption eat more of your hostas.
If you go out to dinner and find out after you left that you paid for 6 other families that you walked by to eat, would you just go home?
You’ve done just that by not paying attention to council, all in that building and everyone they’ve been dealing with.
You’re not supposed to pay attention and they know it, they took advantage of it.
Dreger, Cuddeback, Belfry, Singer and many many others have been telling you for years about this and its suggested we hide some more?
For further information regarding the past history of our current problem/council meeting, I urgently demand that all of you read every single past issue of Public Response in addition to every single past issue of ELi prior to turning on your fence switch.
ELi and Public Response were not started because we needed a quaint way of discussing EL civics.
Studying those publications will give you valuable info you may/not have in order to make an educated decision about whether to re-order more electrical fence wiring. Perhaps you have already read in ELi the reactions of some at another meeting after the exit of Beir/Meadows when they found out exactly how money should work in the City of East Lansing.
They made better decisions on behalf of taxpayers in the City of East Lansing because they understood the information better because they were educated fully.
We ordered and paid for a proper meal.
In the issue of defunding the police perhaps it could be called ‘re-arranging the money given to that department’.
That way Home Depot out in another city doesn’t get our money and we can build our own fences with it instead.
You have wished, wished, dreamed and stomped over having PACE come do something, ELPD come fix it or questioned why either entity has/not done something. ‘My tax dollars!’ ‘We pay for that!!’
Now is your chance.
If ELPD is ‘defunded’ and subsequently rearranged, they will have more time to do police work and less time babysitting. They will be less stressed, more able to make good policing/people decisions and feel like they are actually working toward public good.
PACE will be better able to pick on your neighbor for you, tame those pesky party palaces and write tickets for actual code violations that will really make you feel like your tax money is well spent.
Heck some new council may start that could help you with your hostas.
These new public service commissions being spoken of will release both entities so you don’t drive by a traffic stop and say ‘gee another Black Person got stopped? Boy they pull a lot of them over, don’t they?’ ‘EL didn’t have this problem until they built those big buildings downtown!’
Your money will be re-worked to better work for you, for all of us, not because we need to hide the silver and flip the switch.