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Stevensville council responds to mayor’s allegations

Stevensville Council President Bob Michalson (right) tells “his side of the story” during council comments at the March 26 council meeting, accusing Mayor Brandon Dewey (left) of shutting him out of meetings and telling him he was being watched. Councilor Raymond Smith (center) said the mayor had violated procedures, policies and laws when he accessed council members’ emails. Michael Howell photo.

By Michael Howell

 

A few people made very strong statements at the beginning of the Stevensville Town Council meeting last week, rebuking some of the councilmembers for what they believe is an effort to remove Mayor Brandon Dewey. Their complaints referenced emails between Councilors Holcomb, Michalson and Town Attorney Brian West which were released by the mayor as evidence.

Only one item of business was discussed at the meeting, having to do with the General Services Clerk’s hours. But the discussion was primarily about how many hours the Mayor was putting in. In the end, no action was taken.

It was in the final Council remarks portion of the meeting that Council President Bob Michalson spoke up.

“Due to the recent state of actions and Mayor Dewey’s going to the press, I feel that it is my time to tell my side of the story,” Michalson said. Then followed a long soliloquy in which he accused the Mayor of shutting him out of meetings and, in private, telling him that he was being watched and that he better watch out.

Michalson claims he met privately with Dewey to discuss some issues and when leaving asked if he (the Mayor) had anything to add. Michalson claims that Dewey then told him that he should be very careful of where he went and who he was seeing. Michalson claims that Dewey said his movements have been watched for 45 days and that he was talking a lot with former Mayor Jim Crews.

“I went home. I was mad,” said Michalson. “I was hurt. I felt like my rights were being violated. When a mayor tells a city councilman behind closed doors that he is being watched, that he is being spied on. Be careful what I say. Be careful where I’m at. Be careful who I’m with. I don’t take that lightly.” He said he contacted the town attorney and the police chief to make a record of the incident.

Michalson denies that there was anything personal about the actions taken to get Dewey to resign as a volunteer firefighter. He said that after that happened, the very next day “you went to the press and the radio and basically twisted the story and played like you were the victim and that in your opinion the Council was out to get you.”

Then, according to Michalson, they received a letter and email stating that you were going to check their emails to see if something could be found. He said he believes that Dewey had already accessed them before sending the letter. He also believes that the access was not legal. He accuses Dewey of cherry picking from the emails to “smear me and smear Town Council members.” He said the emails were understandable in context because the council members were feeling bullied.

“You are working in the background all the time,” said Michalson. “You came out and played the victim when you were working in the background and in the shadows, bullying me by closing me out of meetings and telling me I’m being watched.”

“If you would follow protocol we wouldn’t be in this mess…” Michalson continued. “You don’t have the right to rape our security because you feel like you can pick out emails to take to the press and stir them up and you singled me out every time.”

“Yes, I did say we should make your life miserable. Maybe I did say ‘back to the Ludington era, haha’,” said Michalson. He said he understands how the public will misinterpret it unless they look at the big picture.

Councilor Robin Holcomb also denied that she was ever making any personal attacks on the mayor. She claims that she was just following the law and the attorney’s recommendation when she asked for the mayor’s resignation from the volunteer fire department. She claims it was the mayor who then attacked her. She said it was after that meeting that the mayor stopped placing anything on the agenda.

“So everything is on hold because we are being attacked by the news,” said Holcomb. She said that it was stressful because people were approaching her at her place of work and saying they think it’s a joke.

“I don’t want our town to be a joke,” she said. “I’m trying to do the best I can for our town.

Councilmember Stacie Barker pointed out that she had never said anything about Dewey in any emails. “But again, every time we try to move forward somebody calls the press or something. I’m over it. Why? Other than things that he thinks he needs addressed, not what the Council wants.”

“I want to mentor you, Brandon,” added Barker, “but I can’t if you don’t let us. And don’t roll your eyes and I see the smirks. I am going to work with you to follow the laws and that’s all I ever asked.”

Councilor Raymond Smith said that he was going to keep out of the dog fight but now felt compelled to speak up. He rebuked the mayor for violating town policy by accessing the emails and making them public. He said they were “privileged communications.” He also accused the mayor of “slandering the whole council in order to hold a few responsible.”

He claims that the mayor broke a trust by accessing and disseminating the emails. “How can we move on?” he said. “Procedures, policies and laws have been violated and what are we going to do about that?”

The meeting was adjourned after council comments.

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