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Canceled session causes Ishpeming controversy

January 28, 2011
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

ISHPEMING - The decision to table a planned closed session discussion caused some controversy at a special Ishpeming City Council meeting Thursday morning.

The council met at 10 a.m. in the Ishpeming City Hall to discuss several items, including a closed session to discuss a confidential employee evaluation and a resolution for a retirement transfer.

Councilwoman Claudia Demarest, however, made a motion to table the discussion until the February regular meeting, which council members Elaine Racine and Mike Tall voted in favor of.

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Mayor Pat Scanlon and Councilman John Stone voted against the motion.

"I expect to be told ahead of time that the main reason for having the meeting has been challenged," Scanlon said during the meeting. "I'm very upset. There was some discussions at local businesses about this meeting ... As long as I'm in this chair I will not stand for this. This is not what we were elected for. We were here to represent the taxpayers of this city and do the business of the city."

Following the meeting, Scanlon said he felt council members with concerns about the closed session had time to bring those concerns up prior to the meeting.

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Racine said after the meeting that she would rather make decisions at meetings where more members of the public could be in attendance, but wouldn't comment on the subject of the tabled closed session.

"I will never make an important decision on a weekday morning at a time when the average person is working," she said.

City Manager Jered Ottenwess said he would be meeting with Scanlon and each of the council members to work through the situation.

"I think there's probably some misunderstanding there," he said.

Prior to the tabling of the closed session, the council authorized engineering firm OHM to conduct a structural evaluation on the city's fire hall and heard a request from Brad Argall, developer of the Ishpeming Hills subdivision, to be exempted from the city's trash collection ordinance for several four-unit apartment buildings. No action was taken on the trash collection request.

The council also voted to publish a notice of intent resolution to issue capital improvement bonds up to $700,000 to serve as the city's match for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant for the Partridge Creek diversion project. The bond will be financed through the city's Public Improvement Fund.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is



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