- Title: "The City Attorney, the Mayor, and Integrity"
- Author: Phil Bellfy (East Lansing, MI.)
- Date: 10/03/2009
- Additional Categories: Phil Bellfy (audio & essays), Recent Essays, Audio Files, Phil Bellfy
"The City Attorney, the Mayor, and Integrity"#2. "The City Attorney, the Mayor, and Integrity"
AUDIO HERE: ONE CLICK HERE
I'm going to let the audio clip that accompanies this posting tell most of the story, but I do want to provide an outline for the material that is referred to (and linked from this page).
The city, using threats of eminent domain, had been unsuccessful in forcing a sale of three student-rental homes, owned by the Spiridakos family, on Evergreen Road, just north of People's Church. The properties lie within the Oakwood Historic District (as does my home). In order to increase the pressure on these resistant rental-home owners, the City applied to the East Lansing Historic District Commission for approval of a "Notice to Proceed" with the demolition of these homes.
Link to Eminent Domain law ONE CLICK HERE
The seeking of the demolition order violated the city's "good faith negotiation" agreement with the Spiridakos family.
A link to that document is here: ONE CLICK HERE
It is important to emphasize that at the time the city made its application to demolish homes in the Oakwood Historic District (in August, 2008), the city did not own any of the properties that they were seeking to demolish (in fact, the city still does not own them). While the question of ownership was raised at the Historic District Commission hearing, that Commission nevertheless approved the city's application, issuing a “Notice to Proceed” with the demolition of those historic properties.
I “challenged” that decision, filing an appeal in April of 2009 with the State Historic Preservation Review Board. The city responded by asking the judge to dismiss my appeal due to the fact that I lacked standing; the judge agreed with this argument. However, the judge went out of his way to make it clear that he was not deciding the substantive issue in the case. Had the city wished to have the judge rule on the substantive issues in this case, they would not have challenged my right to file this appeal.
In the judge's words, “Petitioner's [Mr. Bellfy's] August 12, 2009 brief asserts that the city East of Lansing had no standing to file the request for demolition. But that is not an issue before me. The Respondent [the Historic District Commission] accepted the city's petition and decided in the city's favor. The issue before me is whether [Mr. Bellfy] may appeal this decision not who can file a petition with the [Historic District Commission]” (underline in original, other emphasis added). Link to the Judge's Finding is here:ONE CLICK HERE (see last)
The cable broadcast of the Sept. 15 City Council session records the city attorney, in response to a request for clarification from the mayor, stating falsely that the substantive issue of my appeal was "found by the judge to be without merit" (emphasis added). What should worry all East Lansing residents is the willingness of city officials to lie about a judge's finding before the entire City Council and members of the public, including journalists. The audio clip of the exchange between McGinty and Loomis comes at the beginning of the interview audio HERE. ONE CLICK HERE
In the audio, I accuse the City Attorney of lying to the public --a reprehensible act no matter who the public official is who commits such a breach of the public trust. But, such an act by an attorney forces such action beyond reprehensible.
As I've said too many times before --I don't get it. Why lie to the public, especially when the truth is so readily obtainable?
PR Readers, please take the time to read the judge's Finding (especially pp 5-6) and listen to McGinty and Loomis in the audio clip. Then I want you to decide if "the city's 'integrity of process' can withstand the challenge" posed by the public (that's you and me) having access to the truth. In this case, the truth is written down by the judge in black and white --and available HERE ONE CLICK HERE