Scott Clark resigns his seat on city council

Published 12:39 am Tuesday, March 14, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles City Council is short one member following its meeting Monday night.
Scott Clark resigned his position as councilmember for the fourth ward prior to discussions over a contract to conduct maintenance work on Niles police vehicles.
While he gave up his council seat, Clark retained his company's contract with the City of Niles to maintain police vehicles.
The agreement with the city is a three-year contract for police vehicle maintenance at an estimated value of $25,000 to $35,000 per year.
Clark owns Clark's Service in Niles and was the second lowest bidder for the contract at $60 an hour. Dee's Auto Body and Service Center offered $55 an hour and both Coleman Motors and Dave's Garage offered rates of $65 an hour.
Dee's offered a lower cost of labor and parts but did not have mechanics certified to perform all repairs on the police vehicles.
Prior to the council's vote, Dee's owner Dee Capron said he would hire a certified mechanic if he was awarded the contract.
Clark's has two certified master mechanics.
Once the board accepted his resignation, Clark was able to address the board as a citizen and, as he said, “remove any conflict of interest” for accepting the contract.
He also added he had been working on the police vehicles since 1977, directly out of trade school at his father's shop.
The previous contract for repairs was also held by Clark's, but expired in 1998 and was never re-opened for bidding.
With Clark's resignation, a two-thirds majority vote among the council was no longer needed. Instead, only a simple majority was required for Clark to be awarded the contract.
Capron said after the meeting he thinks Clark resigned not to eliminate a conflict of interest, but rather to increase his chances of earning the bid.
Clark's was awarded the contract by a vote of 4-3.
Voting in support of the recommendation to award the contract to Clark's were councilmembers Georgia Boggs, Robert Chute, Bruce Williams, and William Weimer. Opposing the recommendation were councilmembers Patricia Gallagher, Robert Durm and Daniel VandenHeede.
Those who voted against said the reasons were not personal, but that Dee's had simply offered a lower bid.
VandenHeede agreed with Gallagher and added he was shocked at Clark's resignation.
Weighing in on the other side was Boggs. She said Clark's history repairing the police vehicles combined with recommendations supporting his bid from Niles Police Chief Ric Huff and Niles City Administrator Terry Eull should be taken into consideration as much as the cost.
Mayor Michael McCauslin addressed Clark's resignation following the vote.
McCauslin also asked anyone interested in the fourth ward position on the council to forward a letter to Diane Bass, assistant to City Administrator Terry Eull, at city hall for consideration: City of Niles, 508 E. Main St., Niles, MI 49120, (269) 683-4700. Council meetings are held at 1345 E. Main St. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 7:30 p.m.