Former city manager suing Benton Harbor
Marsh wants his job back as well as unspecified damages
J. Swidwa - H-P, Wednesday, November 4, 2009
(Article with commentary in bold)
ST. JOSEPH - Former City Manager Richard Marsh is suing the city of Benton Harbor under the state's Whistleblower Protection Act, alleging that he was shown the door after he reported suspected criminal activity and irregularities related to the city's finances. MARSH CARRIED OUT HIS OWN INVESTIGATION AND FOUND CORRUPTION IN THE CITY FINANCE DEPT.
In his lawsuit, Marsh is asking for his job back, along with an unspecified amount in damages. In a complaint filed Friday in Berrien County Trial Court, Marsh alleges the City Commission's actions caused him loss of earnings and career opportunities, mental and emotional distress, and loss of reputation and esteem. HE CAN'T DO WORSE THAN ANYONE ELSE WHO'S BEEN CITY MANAGER.
He alleges the city's actions were malicious and deliberate. WE AGREE 100%. CITY ACTIONS WERE DESIGNED TO SEND A MESSAGE FROM WHIRLPOOL TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE CITY MNGR.
City Attorney Charlette Pugh Tall did not return a phone call from The Herald-Palladium seeking comment Tuesday.
NO SURPRISE - WHIRLPOOL DIDN'T GIVE HER PERMISSION TO CALL.
Marsh alleges the City Commission's 6-2 vote not to renew his contract, which expired Sept. 11, was in retaliation for his requests for an investigation into alleged unethical and illegal conduct by Commissioner Eddie Marshall and for Marsh's attempt to make an auditor's memo a subject of public discussion. Marsh released the memo to the media after commissioners refused to place it on a meeting agenda. MARSH FAILED TO CHECK WITH WHIRLPOOL BEFORE REQUESTING THE INVESTIGATION!
WHEN HE GOT THE JOB HE KNEW WHIRLPOOL RUNS EVERYTHING IN THE COUNTY, INCLUDING HIS POSITION. HE FINALLY DISCOVERED THE CORPORATION WAS MAKING HIM DO THINGS WHICH WERE ILLEGAL.
In the lawsuit, Marsh claims he was instructed by the mayor and certain members of the commission that the memo from Plante & Moran listing problems in the city's Finance Department was not to be the subject of public discussion.
At a meeting Aug. 3, Mayor Wilce Cooke and Commissioners Marshall, Ralph Crenshaw, Ricky Hill, David Shaw and Juanita Henry voted not to renew Marsh's contract. James Hightower and Bryan Joseph voted against the resolution. MARSHALL'S LUCKY THEY DIDN'T VOTE TO SHOOT HIM FOR REQUESTING AN INVESTIGATION!
"I think it's sad and it's tragic that here we go again with another lawsuit that the city has to deal with because of decisions and behaviors of the mayor and some commissioners that were not in the best interest of the city," Joseph said Tuesday after learning of Marsh's lawsuit. "Richard Marsh was truly doing a good job. When people speak the truth and try to get to the bottom of problems, they're let go. Once again, it's a revolving door."
YOU'RE NEXT, JOSEPH - YOU'LL BE GONE AFTER NEXT ELECTION.
Benton Harbor has had 14 city managers in the last 20 years. Neighboring St. Joseph has had two in 40 years. OK.
"How can the city move forward when we don't have stability and continuity and we keep changing city managers? This is what will continue to happen as long as we keep changing city managers," Joseph said. "Some people just have their own personal agendas."
Marsh's suit was filed by the law firm of Taglia, Fette, Dumke & White of St. Joseph.
The complaint alleges Marsh got a three-month employment evaluation but never got the one-year evaluation called for in his contract. Following his three-month evaluation, he got a raise. He alleges that the previously good working relationship he had with elected officials deteriorated quickly after he complained to the mayor and commissioners about the behavior of Commissioner Marshall. WE HOPE HE WINS THE LAWSUIT.
Marsh alleges Marshall has conducted fundraising events in the city's name but never turned any money over to the city.
Marsh's lawsuit also says Benton Harbor citizens told him about suspected unethical and illegal conduct by Marshall, including that he took "kickbacks" from contractors doing business with the city, that he failed to pay his own water and sewer bills and that he solicited gifts and loans from people and organizations doing business with the city.
At a City Commission meeting, Marshall said he raises money in the name of a nonprofit charity he established, not in the name of the city.
When The Herald-Palladium later asked Marshall for the name of his nonprofit charity, he said his lawyer had advised him not to tell the name.
Contacted Tuesday regarding Marsh's lawsuit, Marshall said, "If there was funds missing, I'd like for him to provide me with the amount collected and the amount missing. I'll see him in court." LOOK NO FARTHER THAN YOUR POCKET, MARSHALL.
Marsh's lawsuit alleges that after the city failed to act on his concerns about Marshall, he asked for an FBI investigation.
The suit claims that certain members of the City Commission schemed to remove Marsh as city manager "to prevent public scrutiny of their own conduct and to keep doing business as usual." TRUE.
CITY MANAGERS WILL CONTINUE TO LEAVE THE JOB AFTER REALIZING IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO CARRY OUT THEIR DUTIES IN A DEMOCRATIC WAY WITH THE CORPORATION IN CONTROL.