Niles trustee booted from parks boardPublished 9:07am Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
It took until citizens’ comments for the 300-pound elephant in the room to be addressed at the Niles Charter Township Board meeting Monday night.
The meeting drew more than 30 residents, either supporting or criticizing trustee Michael Bailey, who was at his first meeting since pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure April 9. He was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours of community service.
And it took until moments before the meeting was adjourned for Township Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt to make a proposal that Bailey be removed from the parks board. The proposal passed with Bailey and township supervisor Jim Kidwell voting no.
Durm-Hiatt went on record last week calling for Bailey’s resignation from the board.
“I think it’s a disgrace to the board and the office,” she said in a phone interview last week.
Some residents agree with Durm-Hiatt.
“I don’t like to throw stones at anybody,” township resident Herschel Hoesey said. “But I think the trustees should live up to a certain amount of integrity. I, as one individual, call for his resignation.”
Gary Conover, another township resident in attendance, agreed.
“I don’t think it shines a real good light on the township,” he said. “Maybe if there’s more to the story, we should hear that too.”
Teresa Wetzel came to Bailey’s defense.
“I’ve known Mike since 2002, and I’d trust him with my kids any day, any time,” she said. “I don’t think people know the whole story.”
In a short interview after the meeting, Bailey made it clear that he will not resign.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said. “I was charged with a misdemeanor. I am working with the courts and doing what I am supposed to do.”
He also expressed his remorse.
“Yes, I am an elected official, and I am sorry for what happened. But it is nowhere near what it was (portrayed),” he said. “There are reasons why I took the plea I did, but I am not at liberty to say.”
New noise ordinance
Also on Monday, the board approved a proposal to release a notice of submittal to the public about a new noise ordinance for the township.
Currently in order for someone to be arrested on such charges, a decibel reading must be taken. The new ordinance would not require such a measure.
Kidwell said there had been talk about making the ordinance just a civil infraction, but Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said it would “take the bite out of the ordinance.
Bailey also said the proposed ordinance “mirrors other townships.”
Treasurer Jim Ringler had some qualms about the ordinance as currently written.
“There are an awful lot of gray areas,” he said. “Harleys and trucks with jake brakes violate the noise ordinance. Who gets tickets and who doesn’t? Who gets arrested and who doesn’t?”
Kidwell said he has received a lot of residents about cars blasting music through residential areas, and he believes the ordinance would help a great deal in curbing the disturbances.