Charges to be addressed at next meeting, Oct. 5
By Barb Pert Templeton
Members of the Marine City Commission are reviewing a resolution against Commissioner Michael Hilferink that could remove him from office.
At a Sept. 21 meeting Commissioner Jacob Bryson said he initiated the removal of Commissioner Hilferink at a Sept. 7 meeting under section 5.4 of the city charter. Now he was providing a draft resolution to the commission that formerly laid out the charges against Hilferink. He asked that the resolution be placed on the agenda for the next meeting on Oct. 5, 2023 for consideration and possible action.
“If anyone has any questions, comments, additions or removals please call me, get in touch with me so we make sure your voices are heard on this document,” Bryson said.
The draft presented listed five possible charges, which could be altered after commission members review it. The document included:
- Commissioner Hilferink did on multiple occasions approach a representative of the East China School District with purchase price offers for the City of Marine City to purchase property at 403 N. Maple Street without a majority vote of the City Commission authorizing such actions contrary to the City Charter at Chapter 13, Section 13.1, Section 7.6 (b)(5) and Chapter 2, Section 2.3.
- Commissioner Hilferink did facilitate the public posting, reposting and posting or the continuation of such acts, of documents that are in whole or in part, subject to the attorney-client privilege without a majority vote of the City Commission waiving the privilege contrary to the majority voting requirement.
- Commissioner Hilferink did, contrary to the City Charter at Chapter 6, Section 6.6 fail to conduct himself in an orderly manner constituting misconduct in office on Aug. 3, 3023.
- Commissioner Hilferink did, contrary to the City Charter at Chapter 6, Section 6.6 fail to conduct himself in an orderly manner constituting misconduct in office on Sept. 7, 3023.
- Commissioner Hilferink did, contrary to City of Marine City Charter at Chapter 5, Section 3.11 give orders to the Police Chief on Aug. 7, 2023 concerning the deployment of Police Resources and how that deployment should be managed.
At the recent meeting, Bryson added that should the document be approved at the commission’s next meeting then they should set a time and date for a hearing with Hilferink on the matter. The item did not require a formal motion from the commission as no action was to be taken and the resolution was just being introduced.
Hilferink said he wanted to comment on the issue and pointed out that the city charter can’t override the state laws, citing MCL 168.327.
“It’s very clear that the governor is the only person that can remove me from office,” Hilferink said, adding, ‘that is absolutely true Lisa’ (referring to Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Hendrick) to which she stated no it’s not. Hilferink then asked if she had talked to an attorney about it because he had.
“You think I hired a lawyer because I didn’t think it was a fact, Mike? Geez …. you’re not reading the (whole) law, you’re not reading everything,” Hendrick replied.
When Hilferink insisted the governor law was relevant, Hendrick said that had nothing to do with it.
Hilferink then read the detailed statue from the state which he claims says that he has to be heard in front of the governor.
“In the history, the history of Michigan, a governor has never removed an elected official, never,” Hilferink said, then referenced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the city council’s desire to have him removed from office. He said they were unsuccessful and then he resigned.
“This has to go in front of the governor, again, this board and this attorney are not following the law and just does whatever Bob says,” Hilferink said.
When a video of the Sept. 21 meeting was placed on YouTube via CTV Community Television Algonac City Council member Dawn Davey posted a comment about Hilferink’s take on the issue.
“Although it’s been pointed out to Commissioner Hilferink numerous times, he is mistaken…he can be removed, following due process, for cause under Marine City’s charter. The statute he continually uses as reference, MCL 168.327, does state that the Governor may remove elected officials…but what he fails to understand is that if a Home Rule City Charter “provides for the removal of an elected official by the governing body of a city or village, the officer may be so removed.”
Marine City Charter Section 5.4 Removal from office reads:
Removals by the Commission of elective officers or of members of boards or commissions shall be made for either of the following reasons: (a) for any reason specified by statute for removal of city officers by the Governor; (b)for misconduct in office under the provisions of this charter. Such removal by the Commission shall be made only after a hearing of which such officer has been given notice by the Clerk at least ten days in advance, either personally or by delivering the same at his last known place of residence. Such notice shall include a copy of the charges against such officer. The hearing shall afford an opportunity to the officer, in person or by attorney to be heard in his defense, to cross-examine witnesses and to present testimony. A majority vote of the members of the Commission in office at the time, exclusive of any member whose removal may be being considered, shall be required for any such removal.
To see the Marine City Charter in full visit the city website at cityofmarinecity.org