Lack of quorum cancels Scottville City Commission meeting

November 14, 2022

Lack of quorum cancels Scottville City Commission meeting

By Alan Neushwander, Contributing Writer.

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville City Commission was scheduled to meet this evening to swear in the recently elected commissioners and elect its mayor and mayor pro-tem. Instead, the commission did not have enough members show up to take any action. 

During last week’s General Election, Commissioner Rob Alway was re-elected while appointed commissioners Darcy Copenhaver and Aaron Seiter were elected along with newcomer Kelly Pettit. Long-time commissioner and mayor Marcy Spencer was defeated in the election along with write-in candidate Eric Thue. An additional seat was not filled. This means the commission currently has six seats. Alway turned in his resignation (see related story here). Copenhaver and Seiter did not come to the meeting while commissioners Ryan Graham and Nathan Yeomans were present. Pettit was sworn in, which did not require commission action. 

Because there were only three commissioners present, the commission was unable to take any action, including electing a mayor or mayor pro-tem, which is required by the city charter to take place the Monday following the General Election. 

Without a quorum, City Manager Jimmy Newkirk told those in attendance the meeting could not begin and no business could be conducted. He did allow a time for informal comments from anyone in attendance. DPW employee Justin Coleman was among those to speak.

“We’ve been through 31 employees since I’ve worked here in just under five years,” said Coleman. “Social media is hindering the city’s progress. I’m asking the commissioners that are in this room to do what’s best for Scottville. I hate to see personalities set the city back. I hope we can get over whatever hump we’re at and move into the positive.”

Commissioner Yeomans addressed the resignation letter submitted by Alway.

Commissioner Yeomans attempted to defend himself against the statement’s made in Alway’s letter. 

“I think the letter, while it speaks to some of the things that happened, is a little over exaggerated,” Yoemans said.  “Rumors spread that aren’t necessarily true. I think we do have a chance to create a bright future, but we are going to have to pull together. We need to strive for more transparency, proper communication and accountability. We must be able to have the commission collaborate well in order to make decisions that are best for the city.”

In response to Yoemans, City Manager Newkirk stared intently at Yoemans and said, “It’s funny how mistruths and lies and rumors can get spread without doing any work in the background. It’s really sad. It can hurt people farther than just politics or their own personalities. It doesn’t take much effort to make a phone call or to stop in (to city hall).”

Newkirk has said that neither Graham nor Yeomans have ever discussed the circumstances that led to the resignation of police chief Matt Murphy, which was the incident that caused a divide in the commission. 

Speaking to the media, Newkirk said the rumor mill has taken its toll on Scottville.

“We’ve been struggling with this for months,” he said. “If a person isn’t responsible with what they’re saying or who they’re saying it to, then that starts a fire that burns out of control. Unfortunately, I think we got to that point and because of it we’ve lost a city attorney and now we’ve lost a city commissioner who is a longstanding member of the community and who has been a leader on the commission. 

Newkirk says he’s worried the fire may spread to other commissioners and city staff. His initial concern is for the two commissioners, Copenhaver and Seiter, who need to take the oath of office before November 18.

“There’s been some communication between some of the commissioners that I haven’t been privy to,” said Newkirk. “If they aren’t sworn in by the 18th, they are essentially not accepting the results of the election and voluntarily vacating their seats.”

With Alway’s resignation, there are current two vacancies on the commission. If the other two commissioners voluntarily vacate their seats, the City Charter states there must be a special election. However, a special election must be held during the predetermined election cycles with the next election scheduled in February. That would mean the Scottville City Commission would not have enough members to create a forum until after those seats are filled. 

“The city cannot conduct any business without a quorum,” Newkirk said. “A lack of a quorum effectively pauses or puts on hold what the city government can do other than routine activities, paying some routine bills, and working on projects that were previously approved by the commission.”

Scottville’s next regular city commission meeting is scheduled for Monday November 28, although it remains to be seen if there will be enough members present for a quorum.

“That’s something we will have to work through with the city attorney,” said Newkirk. “There’s new legislation that dictates how we could possibly fill those seats without a special election.”

Newkirk said he will continue to be at work each day to run the day-to-day operations of the city. 

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal: MasonCountyPress@gmail.com; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454. 

fb.com/stars

This story is copyrighted © 2022, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

As the services of Media Group 31, LLC are news services, the information posted within the sites are archivable for public record and historical posterity. For this reason it is the policy and practice of this company to not delete postings. It is the editor’s discretion to update or edit a story when/if new information becomes available. This may be done by editing the posted story or posting a new “follow-up” story. Media Group 31, LLC or any of its agents have the right to make any changes to this policy. Refer to Use Policy for more information.

Area Churches