Apologizes to the community for ongoing issues
By Barb Pert Templeton
When Marine City Commissioner Michael Hilferink was first elected last November, he often referred to fellow commission member, Mayor Pro Tem Lis Hendrick, as his mentor. He readily asked for her advice or opinions on city issues as she’s been a well-respected and popular vote getter in the city for many years.
Yet now it appears something has certainly gone awry with the mentorship.
While Hilferink has been censured by the commission, arrested at a commission meeting for disturbing the peace and is now being considered for removal from office by the commission, Hendrick seems to have run out of patience for his antics.
During the commissioner privilege portion of a Sept. 21 meeting, where each member of the commission can speak on any topic they choose, Hendrick spent nearly six minutes addressing the upheaval in the city due to Hilferink’s actions over the last few months.
Commissioner privilege is not a time for discussion or feedback from the other commissioners although Hilferink was hard pressed to keep quiet throughout the time when Hendrick was speaking.
“I’ll tell you, I guess I’m getting tired of hearing some of this stuff, nobody has broken the law here,” Hendrick began, as Commissioner Hilferink kept interrupting her saying former DPW Director Mike Itrich redacted a letter and broke the law.
“Nobody broke the law here Mike and I’m not answering your questions and I’m not talking to you Mike, just drop it,” Hendrick said.
“He didn’t redact the letter? You won’t answer because you know I’m right,” Hilferink said. “I’ll put it on Facebook later it’s all good.”
“Everything goes on Facebook and it’s all false,” Hendrick replied.
She went on to state that the problem is that Hilferink keeps violating the rights of city employees and they need to be protected. She said officials can’t specify some of the things he’s saying about the employees to wit Hilferink said he tries to talk about it at the podium but the commission won’t let him. She told him he can’t do that it’s a violation of the rules.
There are rules to follow
“It’s just sad what’s going on here,” Hendrick continued. “The problem is that we do have rules, we have a charter, we have policies and procedures, we have rules that have to be followed. Do I always like all these rules? Maybe not – but they have to be followed that’s why they’re there,”
Hendrick said she’s seen a lot over the years, she’s been around a long time and that the current City Manager Scott Adkins is doing a phenomenal job. Hilferink continued to whisper things under his breath as Hendrick was speaking despite being asked repeatedly to stop by Mayor Jennifer Vandenbossche and other commissioners.
“If things keep continuing, we are going to lose the quality employees we worked so hard to get,” Hendrick said.
“Maybe that’s what’s necessary,” Hilferink whispered.
“You don’t understand the charter, you don’t understand how the city works,” Hendrick said.
She went on to say that Hilferink needs to educate himself more before he makes some of his statements because it’s causing a lot of hurt to the city and they may lose out on some of the grants their seeking because grant committees look at what’s going on in the community.
“Yeah, it’s messed up, I agree,” Hilferink whispered.
“I don’t have a problem with people asking questions but you have to do it the right way,” Hendrick said.
“I try, I get shot down,” Hilferink said.
“You’re not trying; and I’m going to ask you again Mike, it’s my turn to talk and you’ve got to stop,” Hendrick said.
“The disrespect you gave my mom, saying you’re following her, you’ve never even have met the woman,” Hendrick said. “She’d slap you, she’d kick you in the butt if she saw what you’re doing here. She would not approve of it.”
“I have my own way of doing it but I follow the rules, I follow the charter and the policies,” Hendrick added.
“So do I,” Hilferink said.
“You’re not following them and you’re going to get us into problems Mike,” Hendrick said.
“Which ones?” Hilferink said as commissioners became more exasperated at his inability to be quiet.
“I’m tired, I’ve been doing this a long time, but it’s not right,” Hendrick said. “We’ve finally got a move to move forward, we’ve got this big road grant we’re trying to get things done and all’s we see are these accusations with no proof whatsoever.”
“I apologize to this community for the crap that’s going on because it’s not fair to the community at all,” Hendrick concluded.