Personnel meeting closed

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Cassopolis Village Council voted 6-1 on Dec. 12 to request the Michigan State Police investigate circumstances of an Oct. 4 incident involving Village Manager Meg Cluckey and Police Chief Frank Williams. Trustee Cynthia Ash voted no.
The council Personnel Committee met Dec. 16. A quorum of Geraldine Sims and Brittany Beauchamp — Robert Yoder was absent — convened publicly long enough to move the meeting into closed session.

Chief Frank Williams

Williams requested a closed meeting under the Open Meetings Act, according to Village Attorney Robert Callahan of Plunkett and Cooney, Kalamazoo.
“Specifically,” Callahan said, “a public body can meet in a closed session for the dismissal, suspension or disciplining, to hear complaints or charges brought against or to consider a periodic personnel evaluation of a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent if the named person requests the closed session. In my opinion, this is a meeting of a public body under the Act. We have a situation where complaints are being brought and Frank Williams requested a closed session to discuss where we go from here.”
Callahan cautioned the committee against expanding its scope.
“The public’s rights would be violated because they would need to know what is being amended to consider,” he said. “When this meeting was called, it was as a result of Trustee (Eugene) Wagner in response to what was happening on Dec. 5 to consider what the Oct. 4 report involved and report back to the council.

Manager Meg Cluckey

“If a special committee expands that beyond what the council as a whole authorized it to do, certainly the public is not hearing about these things, and they have a right to know. People the complaints are about in the memo that I’ve seen are not having an opportunity to assert their rights to a closed session and to be here to respond.
“My legal opinion is that the Village of Cassopolis would be violating the Act and it would likely result in lawsuits against the Village of Cassopolis. I strongly recommend you not do that. We’re here for a single purpose, and that you go into closed session solely for that. We can discuss at that time where we’re at in light of the state police action. Discussing things in closed session outside of that would be a violation.”