Investigation leads to resignation, termination of Buchanan city employees

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, October 14, 2010

Niles Daily Star

A three-week investigation by the City of Buchanan has ended with the termination of two employees and the resignation of the superintendent of the department of public works.
Willie Brown, who has held the position for 31 years, which includes the city’s cemetery services, public works/street department, wastewater and water departments, turned in his resignation Monday, according to city manager William Marx.
The two employees, John Brown — Willie Brown’s brother — and Terry Pitzger, were terminated for “violations of city policy,” Marx said.
Those policies include professional ethics policy, rules of employee conduct, city theft policy and city vehicle equipment policy.
The actions of John Brown and Pitzger, Marx said, were “not consistent with the titles of those four policies.” He could not comment on any pertinence to Willie Brown due to the former superintendent’s resignation.
“Our inquiry of the irregularities of the city policies were looked at internally,” he said. “And that’s when we discovered that there were some violations that we followed through with which resulted in the termination of the two employees and the resignation.”
Those “violations” have yet to be identified and there is some question as to whether or not criminal charges will be brought upon either of the three former employees or any others.
“It’s not our department that is pursuing the criminal inquiry,” Marx said. “We didn’t make the inquiry into any criminal activity that may have happened with this.”
Marx said the Michigan State Police had been notified by the city of “some of the things that were going on. Where they are with that,” he said, “I don’t know.”
The city has a total of 38 employees; 13 fell under Willie Brown’s supervision.
Now, Marx said, “I’ve got to sit down and evaluate our present situation and our needs and that’s about all I can say.”
Because of the nature of the situation — which involves city employees in a city where Marx is both the city manager and chief of police — he said, “I chose to reach out to an outside agency to evaluate or obtain information on what happened here and I’m not trying to direct that investigation at all.”
Marx said it would be up to the state police to submit any findings they deemed worthy of criminal charges to the prosecutor for review and decide upon whether or not any warrants would be issued.
Willie Brown could not be reached for comment at press time.