Plainfield trustees, supervisor under recall threat

Would-be township firefighter files petition

Trustees Charles Weldon and Victor Matthews and Supervisor George Meek are hotly contending allegations made in a recall petition filed by Nick Prill. Prill, who was once in the township’s fire academy and dismissed, filed the document June 17 and wording on the document was approved by Kent County July 9.

The Plainfield Township Board and manager work out details of a new budget earlier this year. Two trustees and the Supervisor are facing a recall effort led by a small group of residents. The township cut over a million dollars from this years budget in response to a first-ever decrease in revenue.

The three are accused of repeatedly violating the Open Meetings Act, increasing water and sewer rates rather than making cuts to the budget and hiring a convicted sex offender.

“There is no investigation of allegations in approving a recall petition,” said Matthews of the approval. “The county only has to approve that the wording is clear.”

Matthews stated that the recall effort is one more step in a long campaign by a small, vocal special interest group to intimidate board members to adopt their agenda to  the detriment of all the people of Plainfield Township.

The group was successful in changing the minds of four board members earlier this year to approve and pitch in a portion of payment for a more than one million dollar upgrade to Belmont Avenue. In addition to the cancellation of the project, the township was informed by the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) that the township must reimburse for work done on the project following the original unanimous vote by the full board to approve funds for the work. That cost has yet to be totalled but the KCRC said it may be as much as $100,000.

The three board members who refused to waiver in support of the project are the three listed in the petition. All three released a joint statement addressing each accusation.

In regards to the accusation of violation of Open Meetings, all state that the board has relied upon the advise of legal council prior to having any closed meetings.

They state there has been no water increase and an increase in sewer rates—an average of $2.71 per average household—was necessary in response to a significant decline in residential development and as part of the township’s contract with the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA). The new NKSA plant has saved residents about $5.5 in sewer rates, the statement by the three under recall states. In addition, they point out while writing the new budget over $1 million in cuts were made.

On the third and final charge, trustees and Supervisor Meek say convicted sex offender Jeff Hawkins was originally hired as a paid-on-call firefighter prior to his conviction. He later was hired by then-Clerk Sue Morrow as deputy clerk. At that time he had been placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. When former Clerk Sue Morrow lost her job to current Clerk Scott Harvey, Hawkins was rehired by Harvey. According to the statement from the three under recall, Harvey knew about Hawkins’ conviction.

            According to Susan deSteiguer, Kent County Director of Elections, the petitioner must gather 3,794 signatures for each of the three to get the issue before voters, either in the November election or in a special election  which would be held for this issue alone.

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Comments

  1. steve besser says:

    Once again, the Rockford Squire has proven to print a story that is slanted and does not include both sides of the story and exhibits irresponsible journalism. This artical blatently supports the Plainfield Twp boards accusations that language of the recall petitions is unfounded, and that a special interest group is intimidating this board. Lets clear the air here.
    First, everything in the recall language is supported by documentable evidence, including prior Press reporting of the same issues. If this reporter was to do his/her job, they should have researched it further before going to print. Second, if taxpaying voters of the twp concerned with the actions of this board are considered a special interest, I would then point to ANY individual that approaches the board and asks for them to make a determination on ANY issue, is that not a special interest? This groups only agenda is to expose publicly, the lack of accountability, and responsibility to the citizens that elected these officials, and use a process of recall which is a right of any voter to pursue if they are not happy with decisions coming from officials who are making decisions on their behalf. If there has been ANY intimidation, it is being directed towards the group of citizens supporting the recall. Manager Homan has approached family members of one supporter, in an attempt to pit family against family to get this person to back off the recall. Similarly, late night phone calls of a threatening nature have been made to the petition sponser warning to back down from the recall. The reality is…the few members of this board who are subject to this recall, do not support public involvement in their little group of decision makers, and continue to demonize us for doing what we have every right to do…hold them accountable. Thats exactly what we propose to do, and by putting it on the ballot for other voters to decide is the dilligent, and lawful way to do it. There is NO WAY we could force any agenda on these people. We simply are following a political process in which we have a right to do and leave it up to the voters to decide if what we are doing is right or wrong. My suggestion to the board…do not throw stones in your glass house by lying to insinuate a special interest group is forcing anything on the board. I challenge them to prove any other agenda, other than seeking the removal of the twp manager Homan, supervisor Meek, and trustees Weldon and Matthews. For information concerning the recall, please visit http://WWW.recallplainfield.com or on facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Plainfield-Township-community-Watchdog/125653020799981?ref=ts

  2. I’m more than happy to stand by this story. I am all for people being involved in their local government and some may remember my coverage of the Family Fare story. In this case I think the main characters opposing some members of the board are the ones acting irresponsibly, costing the townships residents lots of money and making false accusations.
    Beth Altena, Editor

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