Judge tells county to retrieve some COVID-19 relief payments

CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan county was requested Monday to claw back again COVID-19

CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan county was requested Monday to claw back again COVID-19 relief payments from some of its workers just after a resident challenged the way the federal funds was accepted by neighborhood officials.

It can be the latest enhancement in a controversy above how Republicans who management government in Shiawassee County, inhabitants 68,000, handled a windfall from the federal govt.

Decide Mark Latchana directed the county to recuperate any “hazard pay” bonuses that exceeded $5,000, lawyer Philip Ellison mentioned.

Ellison argued that county commissioners violated Michigan’s open up conference regulation by closing a July 15 meeting to focus on the investing prior to voting, 6-, in an open session.

If commissioners want to commit the income, they will have to vote all over again, beneath the judge’s order.

“This injunction sends a really apparent information they can not use key backroom bargains to check out to enrich by themselves… It goes again to an aged line: Sunshine is the ideal disinfectant,” mentioned Ellison, who sued on behalf of a resident.

Numerous frontline county staff gained $1,000 to $2,000. Ellison mentioned the injunction doesn’t impact them.

But the commissioners, who function aspect-time, ended up incredibly generous with themselves and other elected Republicans: Chairman Jeremy Root been given $25,000, two commissioners bought $10,000, and 4 more commissioners gained $5,000. The sheriff, prosecutor, county administrator and county clerk were also given bonuses.

After days of criticism, commissioners previous Friday pledged to return their cash, citing a lawful view from the prosecutor who mentioned the Michigan Structure bars elected officers from acquiring extra pay for earlier do the job.

“All other elected officers who received these money have also made the decision to voluntarily return these funds,” the commissioners said.

In court, Thomas Beindit, a lawyer representing the county, argued there was no open conference violation when commissioners resolved to shell out about $555,000 on a lot more than 250 workforce.

But Commissioner Marlene Webster testified that there was a discussion only about the average dimensions of a bonus.

“There was not a one mention” of shell out for commissioners, claimed Webster, who has returned her money.