Police and fire chiefs admonish Rotta

March 24, 2014

Fire Chief Jerry Funk addresses the city council about Tom Rotta, foreground. Left, back, is Police Chief Mark Barnett.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — After years of being bashed by citizen Tom Rotta, Police Chief Mark Barnett and Fire Chief Jerry Funk publicly admonished the outspoken self-proclaimed community activist during tonight’s Ludington City Council meeting.

Tonight’s admonishment stemmed from Rotta’s recent questioning of the legality of the police department’s volunteer reserve unit. Reservists are typically used during special events. While they are not regular police officers they still must meet certain qualifications.

Barnett spoke at the end of the council’s meeting. He said he respects a person’s right to free speech but believes that Rotta abuses that right.

“My concern is with Mr. Rotta and his random use to say whatever he wants… while he has every right it doesn’t make it right for him to be able to do that.”

Rotta operates a website that allows people to anonymously post their complaints about local happenings. Often Rotta’s posts attack a person’s physical characteristic or questions their integrity.

Barnett said he fears that Rotta’s attacks have hindered volunteerism in the city. “It doesn’t seem right.”

The police chief said Rotta, on his website, has made remarks about his personal appearance and even called him a pervert, in relation to an issue of cameras being located in common areas of some city bathrooms. “My wife and my family don’t appreciate that… It hurts me and my family… You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Barnett said the volunteer reservists are volunteers who give their time and that Rotta’s questioning of those individuals is shameful.

“I would like to apologize on behalf of Mr. Rotta to those people who give up their time,” Barnett said. “If you want to be part of the solution than you should act appropriately.”

Fire Chief Jerry Funk said he served on the police reserves for 30 years. “That’s 30 years of giving up holidays and weekends,” Funk said.

“I resent that he says those things about the volunteers who give up their time,” Funk told MCP.

Funk’s and Barnett’s comments were met with applause.

Rotta’s quest against the City of Ludington began several years ago when he was pulled over and ticketed by a Ludington police officer for failure to yield on his bicycle. At that time he was a member of Ludington Fire Department.

Mayor Ryan Cox, at the request of City Councilor Wanda Marrison, allowed Rotta 60 seconds to respond, the same amount of time Cox allowed Chief Funk. Rotta stood up to the podium but then refused to comment.

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