October 24, 2014

Recall language against Eagan again deemed unclear, not factual

File Photo
Recall language against West Branch-Rose City school board member Mike Eagan was again rejected by the Ogemaw County Election Commission Aug. 27.
8/27/13

WEST BRANCH — The Ogemaw County Election Commission again deemed recall language against West Branch-Rose City board member Mike Eagan to be unclear and not factual.

The language was filed Aug. 16 by John Janczewski, who claimed Eagan has violated West Branch-Rose City bylaws and has a conflict of interest by sitting on the board.

John Janczewski gave two reasons for recalling Eagan.

“1. Michael Eagan has violated two West Branch-Rose City school board bylaws by compromising the board and it’s (sic) district’s staff and putting himself in a position of bias and favoritism,” the language states. “2. Michael Eagan is married to West Branch-Rose City teacher Amy Huber-Eagan, which presents a clear and defined conflict of interest as stated in Michigan State Senate Bill 1051 and our local school bylaws.”

The language was rejected by the commission at a factual and clarity hearing Aug. 27. This is the second time language against Eagan has been rejected. The commission turned down prior language filed by John Janczewski Aug. 6.

John Janczewski was not present at the hearing, but his wife, Lori Janczewski, told the election commission that she and her husband felt the fact that Eagan was involved in closed sessions on whether to discipline a group of teachers who wrote letters of leniency for convicted sex offender Neal Erickson, when one of the teachers was his wife, was a conflict of interest.

Ogemaw County Clerk Gary Klacking, one of the election commissioners, said John Janczewski needed to list what the bylaws were that were violated in his recall petition.

“The thing about that is that there is no reference to what those bylaws are,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, reading ballots and proposal language, and if you’re a voter going in there, looking at that, unless you know ahead of time and you take the time to review that, you don’t know what those bylaws are.”

Klacking also said that the determination that the violation is clearly bias and favoritism is opinion, not factual. He also said that in the second statement, the bill is referenced but it is not stated what the bill says.

Ogemaw County Treasurer Dwight McIntyre, who also sits on the election commission, said it isn’t illegal for Eagan to be married to a teacher and sit on the school board.

“Bill 1051 just prohibits him from voting on contracts of financial being that he would gain financial gain for himself or his wife from,” McIntyre said.

The final member of the election commission, Probate Court Judge Shana Lambourn, explained the difference between a factual statement and opinion.

“Just for an example, Bob Smith did XYZ,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. It’s whether it can be a factual statement. Whether or not Mike Eagan is biased or prejudiced is an opinion. So you want to state exactly what he did.”

The Janczewskis will be able to re-file language again in the future, if they choose to do so.

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