THE LOCAL OBSERVER WE BRING YOU THE NEWS SERVING Presorted Standard U.S. Postage Paid Saugatuck MI Permit No. 30 CURRENT RESIDENT November 22, 2017 Vol. 15 No. 47 FREE SAUGATUCK * DOUGLAS * SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP * LAKETOWN TOWNSHIP * FENNVILLE * GLENN * GANGES TOWNSHIP * HAMILTON * HOLLAND * SOUTH HAVEN HAPPY THANKSGIVING Saugatuck Township Fire Officials File Formal Complaint Against Saugatuck Township Board Trustee/Fire Board Member Roy McIlwaine Staff Report Saugatuck Township Fire Department officials have filed a for-mal complaint against Saugatuck Township Board Trustee and Fire Board Member Roy McIlwaine saying he “has placed the lives of the Fire District personnel, as well as ALL the District’s citizens at unnecessary risk.” The fire department offi-cials filed the formal complaint with the Fire District’s Fire Administrative Board which is made up of represen-tatives of the district’s three govern-mental partners: the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas and Saugatuck Township. The formal complaint letter dated Nov. 7th was signed by Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Mantels, Captain Linus Starring, Captain Mike Betts, Captain Brent Van Oss, Lieutenant Jeff Dornbush, Lieutenant Kyle Meyer, Lieutentant Mike Blok, Sergeant Chris Bernhardy, Sergeant John Mileskiewicz and Sergeant Mike England. At the center of this ongo-ing controversy are Saugatuck Township Board Trustees McIlwaine, Clerk Brad Rudich, Trustee Lori Babinski and Trustee Doug Lane who are seeking to vote to change the International Fire Code as it applies to the Saugatuck Township Fire District. Those changes, say their critics -including Saugatuck-Douglas Fire Chief Greg Janik, the aforemen-tioned fire department officials, Saugatuck Township Fire District firefighters and many members of the public -are putting the lives of fire-fighters, business owners and area cit-izens in jeopardy. Those critics also say the fire code changes being sought by McIlwaine and his fellow township trustees are solely being done to pla-cate a small number of developers who have complained about the cost of having to adhere to the fire dis-trict’s fire codes -which are based on the International Fire Code -and are counter to accepted fire rules and reg-ulations designed to protect the pub-lic. It was earlier this year that Township Clerk Rudich and Township Manager Aaron Sheridan secretly began to rewrite the long-standing fire codes for the local fire district and then tried to rush those changes through with a township board vote without even discussing the proposed changes with its own fire department officials. When those fire officials -including Fire Chief Janik -learned of this surreptious action by Rudich and Sheridan -they raised the alarm and publicly criticized the move saying the proposed changes would endan-ger citizens and firefighters lives and that Rudich, Sheridan, Babinski, Lane and Township Zoning Administrator and Planner Steve Kushion are making changes despite having no education, experience or understanding of the International Fire Code, firefighting rules and regs, firefighting operational policies and procedures, etc. Janik has publicly and repeatedly stated he will not follow any township board changes to the Fire Code that puts lives in danger. Saugatuck Township Supevisor Jonathan Phillips has also criticized his fellow trustees’ actions and has publicly suppported the fire officials. Also criticizing the Township Board trustees behind the Fire Code past and proposed changes are Saugatuck and Douglas city offi-icals who say the township has unilat-eraly attempted to make these changes without any attempt to con-sult with them, even though their respective municipalities are equal members of the local fire district. Officials of both city gov-ernments say they will not go along with any such fire code changes by the township as they also believe they would endanger their residents. In a related action, con-cerned citizens have filed official paperwork to begin the process to recall Rudich, Babinski, Lane and McIlwaine and have them removed from their government positions. A public hearing was held on this recall move Monday (See Page 3 story). Here is the full formal com-plaint letter filed against McIlwaine: “We, the Fire Officers of the Saugatuck Township Fire District, wish to file a formal complaint against Fire Board Member Roy McIlwaine. In our opinion, Mr. McIlwaine has violated the Restated Rules and Bylaws of the Saugatuck Township Fire District Administrative Board. “The Restated Rules and Bylaws of the Saugatuck Township Fire District, A. Fire Administrative Board, Section 5. state “ Candidates for the Board should be without bias and individuals who will not favor one governmental unit over another. Board members should be primarily interested in providing the best possible fire protec-tion to the district, while always seeking the most efficient use of tax monies.” Mr. McIlwaine made the motion, and subsequent vote of sup-port, to Sec. 16-27 Modifications to the ordinance to adopt the 2015 International Fire Code at the Township of Saugatuck’s November 1, 2017 boad meeting. We feel that this action has placed the lives of the Fire District personnel, as well as ALL the District’s citizens at unnecessary risk. “Again, in our opinion, Mr. McIlwaine has violated the bylaws by selectively looking out for members of the Township Board of Trustees, rather than all the citizens Mr. McIlwaine is intended to be serving in his position as a Fire Board mem-ber. “Our sworn duty as Fire Officers and command staff of the Fire District is to serve and protect ALL citizens, visitors, and personnel within the limits of the Saugatuck Township Fire District. We do this in accordance with our Mission “To minimize community risks and improve the quality of life for all persons within the Saugatuck Township Fire District.” “Mr. McIlwaine’s actions will negatively impact our ability to effectively perform our sworn duties. We want to be on record that we dis-agree with the actions of Mr. McIlwaine, and the Board of Trustees of Saugatuck Township.” In response to the fire offi-cials’ formal complaint, McIlwaine at Monday’s Fire Board meeting provid-ed the following written response: “Members of the board, Since receiving a copy of the formal com-plaint letter dated November 7, 2017 (Cont. Page 4)
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