BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
The ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case between Susan Bisio and the city of Clarkston took another turn last month when the city decided to utilize additional legal services in the proceedings.
During the January 6 Clarkston City Council meeting, due to an undisclosed conflict with City Attorney Tom Ryan, the council approved the retention of attorney Mark Peyser of Howard and Howard of Royal Oak to represent the city in the current facilitation of settling the ongoing lawsuit.
Peyser’s services will cost $350 per hour with a goal of 40 total hours, for an initial budget of up to $14,000 that will be transferred from the city’s fund balance to the legal fees budget account.
The fees could be less if Peyser gives work to other employees whose rates are lower.
A $5,000 retainer is a subset of the estimated $14,000.
“When I read this, I was a little disappointed at how much this is going to cost us,” said council member Ed Bonser at the January 11 council meeting. “I was hoping we could get a rate of less than $350, but it looks like that is what we are going to be paying.”
City council approved the resolution unanimously.
“We’re assuming the worst here with the $350 at 40 hours and we don’t know if that’s going to be enough,” said Clarkston City Manager Jonathan Smith.
At the council meeting October 12, the council voted to release the 18 documents Bisio had requested back in June 2015 as they pertained to city land developments.
James Tamm, the attorney representing the city in the lawsuit, advised council to release the documents that were allegedly stored on Ryan’s personal computer and not on city-owned technology. Three more documents were released to Bisio on October 17.
Attorney Richard Bisio, representing his wife, Susan Bisio, declined comment last week on the matter, saying the facilitation has not been completed.