Letters to the Editor

Ruling guts FOIA

Dear Editor,
As reported in last week’s Clarkston News, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the City of the Village of Clarkston in the case of Bisio v. City of the Village of Clarkston and essentially gutted Michigan’s 42-year-old Freedom of Information Act and our right to know what any local government is doing (“Freedom of Information appeal goes to city,” July 11).
The summary of this case is the city attorney can keep city-related information from the City Council and public and be paid with our tax dollars to do so. He continues to do this as discussed at the July 9 City Council meeting with no action taken to stop it. Since the city attorney is designated a city administrative officer in the city charter along with the city manager, clerk, treasurer, assessor and finance officer, one can construe that all these people can keep information from the council and public and be paid with our tax dollars to do it.
It gets worse. Our elected representatives, the City Council, never voted for this, never voted to go to court about it, never took any formal action other than silently approving the bills and letting people who don’t live, vote or pay taxes in the village make the decisions for them and us.
Long term City Council member Sharron Catallo recently said at a meeting the city won and implied there was no reason to discuss it. Maybe someday she will explain what was won. Is it more information kept from everyone? An uninformed council making uninformed decisions? More of our money going to the city attorney for things we are not allowed to know anything about?
I’m sure it is mere coincidence that of the hundreds of documents requested from the city and provided in accordance with Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, the 18 withheld by the city attorney for unknown reasons reportedly are related to the actions of council member Sharron Catallo’s family. Mere coincidence, nothing to see here, move on.
I would like to know what is so secret in the tiny Village of Clarkston government that over two years of court battles and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expense were needed to keep it that way. All done with our tax dollars that are paid to the Michigan Municipal League insurance fund that represented the city against the people who pay the bills.
Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act starts out with this statement, “It is the public policy of this state that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.”
This is no longer true in the City of the Village of Clarkston, if it ever was, and the blame falls squarely on our city government and the Michigan Municipal League that supported them. A few positive comments did come from several of the council members, most notably from Susan Wylie. Thank you for those but it is too little and too late. The question is what will our elected leaders do next? How much more of the democratic process will be lost until someone starts representing what’s right instead of what they can get away with?
Cory Johnston

A call for issues

Dear Editor,
Sadly, my opponent does not wish to focus on the issues plaguing our state in this campaign but has chosen to question my loyalty to America and to our great state of Michigan. This only highlights her lack of substance on the campaign trail. I call upon my opponent, Andrea Schroeder to stick to the issues at hand.
Beyond the mudslinging, Andrea has no issues – no substance, no understanding of the issues we Michiganders face. Unfortunately, Andrea Schroeder believes highly inflammatory attacks will deflect from the fact her campaign fails to address issue that we all face.
Michigan has real issues we all face, Our auto insurance is the highest in the nation, we pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, our roads are crumbling and our seniors are taxed on their pensions that they worked so hard for. I stand firm with President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration, as I am a legal immigrant to our great country, one that I am very proud to call my home. Michigan will not be host to sanctuary cities, and I will put forth several bills that will prosecute those individuals in local, city, and state government that attempt to impede justice being serviced by Immigration Enforcement.
I am an American, Republican candidate for state representative in Michigan’s 43rd District, holding a Master’s Degree, a small business owner, and township trustee for Independence Township. As an American, I value my home, my family, and my community.
Jose Aliaga
Independence Township

Higher standards needed

Dear Editor,
In regards to the story “State rep campaign turns negative,” July 11, regarding the contents of the Jose Aliaga personnel file, I received a copy of this record via email a couple of weeks ago.
I was disturbed by the contents, as are many others who have seen it. As elected officials, we are held to a higher standard when it comes to the public trust. The state entrusted him to help our most vulnerable people – the sick and poor – whom we have both an ethical and moral duty to serve. Mr. Aliaga’s unsatisfactory performance ratings in that duty are disappointing. Our focus should be on making sure his clients eventually got the help they needed, and that failures like this are corrected promptly.
Andrea Schroeder
Independence Township

Send Letters to the Editor about the primary to 5 S. Main Street, Clarkston, 48346; or e-mail ClarkstonNews@gmail.com. We’ll publish them through the July 25 edition.