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.
Dennis Ritter, former City Manger of Clarkston