Elkins drops DDA complaint

EVART — Roger Elkins has notified members of the city’s Downtown Development Authority board of trustees that he will not be pursuing a complaint filed with the county prosecuting attorney regarding alleged Open Meetings Act violations.

On Oct. 19, Elkins filed a letter with the prosecutor’s office alleging that the DDA board met on at least three occasions without proper public notification that meetings had been called.

A letter had been filed with prosecuting attorney James Sims stating “Please be advised the Evart DDA meetings of October 13 and October 19 appear to be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”

Elkins also noted he believed a third meeting held Oct. 4 was also in violation of the law.

DDA board chair Alan Bengry responded saying that at no point during a search for an executive director — or while holding any other meeting — had there ever been a violation of the Opening Meeting’s Act.

Sims said his office would look into the matter noting “We will approach this complaint with careful consideration. We will pull out all the books and investigate if there was a violation at all. This issue will be reviewed as soon as we can give it the careful attention is deserves.”

Elkins turned over documentation in his possession to the prosecutor’s office, but the material was returned to him on Oct. 27, with a note from Sims stating: “Your information needs to be submitted to a law enforcement agency for investigation such as the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department or the Michigan State Police. The law enforcement agency will then submit their investigation to my office for review.”

Sims informed Elkins his office did not have investigators and could not handle an investigation into the matter since in doing so, the prosecutor could be called as a witness in a case he was potentially prosecuting — a conflict.

On Oct. 31, Elkins sent a letter to the DDA board stating he had realized two of the meetings in question had been sufficiently posted.

“In short, there is no violation of the Open Meetings Act for these two meetings,” he wrote.

He then added: “Please be assured I will not be contacting a law enforcement agency regarding a possible violation.”

Elkins continues to dispute claims made by Bengry that no decisions were made by a board committee in an Oct. 4 meeting — action which would have required posting of the meeting under the law

“It was my impression this committee narrowed the applicant field to the five individuals interviewed on October 13 ... It is still not clear to me how the DDA went from over 10 applicants at the September 21 meeting to five interviews on October 13th.”

Although Elkins told the DDA he did not plant to pursue the issue, he did note in his letter to that board:

“The Open Meetings Act was passed to assure that public meetings and decisions would take place in an open environment.

“I am still of the opinion this did not happen with all actions.

“I am closing the book on this matter and will not pursue any addition action or communication.”

Elkins also addressed the board saying:

“My apologies for any problems I may have caused individually or collectively.” He also wished the board members continued success in the carrying out of their duties and responsibilities.