Support for city attorney

Dear editor,
I am writing to you in a strong support of City Attorney Tom Ryan.
As you may recall, I was City Manager from June 2008 until June of 2013 when I retired. Previous to that position, I served for over 20 years in Waterford Township Government, the last 8 years as township Supervisor where I first met Tom Ryan. The Township had an ongoing and extremely contentious ordinance violation lawsuit. The Oakland Country Circuit Count appointed Tom Ryan as a Special Master to help resolve the suit. As a result of Mr. Ryan’s diligence and proficiency in the application of Municipal Law, the Circuit Court ultimately ruled in favor of the Township. It was without a doubt that Tom Ryan’s quick grasp of the issues, extensive knowledge of Municipal Law, interpretation and application to the Township ordinances protected Waterford Township.
When I was appointed City Manger I was comforted knowing that Tom was our City Attorney. I knew I could rely on his counsel and he would not let the City down. He confirmed my trust in him by consistently making sure my recommendations and Council proceedings followed the letter of the law. My admiration and respect for Tom Ryan is shared by his peers and the other communities he serves not only for his knowledge of Municipal Law, but more importantly for his character, integrity and honesty.
It appears to me that culpability for the chaos the City currently finds itself in lays with the Council itself and not the City Attorney. It is obvious to anyone paying attention to Council proceedings that some members are unduly swayed by the same, haranguing long standing minority of malcontent and special interests that continue to cast denigrating remarks to discredit individuals in their efforts to control and circumvent representative government. One can only imagine the impact of ill-tempered and ill-mannered individuals’ disruptions to the decorum of Council meetings.
A blatant example of these efforts is the incendiary letter sent to the City residents by the Plaintiff in FOIA lawsuit against the City. The use of the trip-wire phrase “secret meeting” is deceptive and destructive to the Council as a whole. It is imperative for everyone to know that these meetings were legal Executive Sessions, voted on by the City Council in public as provided for by the State of Michigan Law when within State guidelines. Currently, the suit is working its way through the Court System.
My point is, blaming and believing Tom Ryan is the source of the Council’s governance problems is not valid. His advice and service to the City is based on his extensive knowledge of Municipal Law, interpretation and application to the City’s ordinances. I urge you to keep Tom Ryan working on behalf of the Council and citizens of the City of the Village of Clarkston.
Respectfully,
Dennis Ritter, former City Manger of Clarkston

3 Responses to "Support for city attorney"

  1. Mike Fetzer   October 18, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Sounds like a nerve has been touched! It is sad, and a sign of poor and fearful leadership, when those citizens who call for greater transparency in government operations are maligned by city officials. Change is good. Undoubtedly, though, city leaders will consult the city attorney for a binding legal opinion about whether the city attorney should be retained or let go. He’s the expert, after alll….wonder what he will advise?

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  2. Susan Bisio   October 18, 2018 at 5:51 am

    Mr. Ritter, as you know, when a public meeting is closed, even when it is done consistently with the Open Meetings Act, what happens during that meeting is kept secret from the public.

    I have only referenced two meetings. The first is a meeting that was unlawfully closed to discuss water runoff issues at 148 N. Main, and the City has admitted that it was unlawfully closed. I discussed that in my Letter to the Editor that was published last week.

    The second meeting concerned a public discussion of my FOIA lawsuit, and Steven Percival, Rick Detkowski, Scott Reynolds, and Sue Wylie wanted the public to learn about it at the same time that they did so they voted against closing the meeting. Eric Haven, Sharron Catallo, and David Marsh voted to close the meeting. They lost, and the public learned about the lawsuit.

    You stated: “It is imperative for everyone to know that these meetings were legal Executive Sessions, voted on by the City Council in public as provided for by the State of Michigan Law when within State guidelines. Currently, the suit is working its way through the Court System.”

    Frankly, I have no idea what you are talking about when you refer to “these meetings.” The meeting that was unlawfully closed was certainly not “within State guidelines,” and the city has admitted to that in court. The second closed meeting didn’t occur, because a majority of the council members voted not to close it. Finally, there is no OMA “suit working its way through the court system.” As I noted in my Letter to the Editor, that suit was resolved, the city admitted to unlawfully closing the meeting, and the Oakland County Prosecutor sent a warning letter to the city about it.

    I have not discussed Tom Ryan in any correspondence, except to note that he requested the closed session, withdrew his request when Richard pointed out that the basis he was using to close the meeting wasn’t sufficient, and the city council voted to close the meeting anyway. It’s unclear to me why you are including references to my correspondence in a discussion about Tom Ryan.

    I realize that it’s hard to keep up with Clarkston issues since you are no longer live or vote in Clarkston, but the only lawsuit that’s pending is the FOIA lawsuit, and it’s currently on appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court.

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  3. Charles Inabnit   October 18, 2018 at 7:51 am

    I’m comforted in knowing that Dennis Ritter is no longer city manager. The damage and loss to the city under his tenure was sickening. He should thank the ex mayor for letting him retire, instead of being fired like he should have been.

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