In violation? Lawsuit filed against Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) -(0722/21)-”It’s when things are done in the backroom secretly outside of public view, especially when it enriches themselves, the most at the expense of those who are actually doing the work, it when sometimes bad decision get made,” said attorney, Phil Ellison.

Attorney Phil Ellison, on behalf of Shiawassee County resident and plaintiff Nichole Ruggiero, believes the County Board of Commissioners were in violation of the Open Meetings Act when they went into a closed session on July 15th.

A meeting that resulted in several 5-figure payouts to some county employees.

So they are suing the commissioners for that violation.

“This lawsuit that we filed doesn’t really get to the heart about whether they should have spent that money or not. Really what this lawsuit is is the way they went about making the decision to spend that money,” Ellsion said.

As ABC 12 told you, last week-- the commissioners paid themselves thousands of dollars in COVID “hazard pay” with Chairman Jeremy Root receiving the largest amount of 25-thousand dollars.

Other commissioners received $10,000 and $5000 amounts.

According to the Emergency Motion filed Thursday-- some other county employees who also received money include:

2. Sheriff Brian Begole ($25,000)

3. Buildings/Grounds Superintendent Timothy Hill ($25,000)

4. Heath Department Director Larry Johnson ($25,000)

5. County Controller Brian Boggs ($25,000)

6. Finance Director Tracy Bublitz ($25,000)

12 others received $12,500-$5000.

However-they were not named as Defendants in the lawsuit.

“You get to make the decisions as the Board of Commissioners Absolutely, but you got to do it correctly, publicly, and with everyone having the opportunity to know about it, and the ability to for people to voice and chime in, on whether or not they should do it” Ellison said.

Ellison is also asking the court to have anyone who received a payout-- immediately return the money until the court rules on the lawsuit.

ABC 12 reached out to all five commissioners named as defendants in the lawsuit-- they have not responded to our request for comment.

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