08-17-2017 Judge adds limits that prevent Hodge from participating on Road Commission; Coloma Townsh

DONATION FOR EDUCATION… Coloma Char-ter Township Police Chief Jason Roe presented a certificate of appreciation to Dan Crist (left) of Centsible Heating & Air. They recently made a sizable donation to the police depart-ment. Roe said the funds will be used for the purchase of take-home materials that the police officers will give to stu-dents in the elementary schools. The materials can be shared with the parents so they can be informed about the subjects that police are sharing with the stu-dents. Roe said he hopes to re-introduce police involvement in the schools especially on the topics of internet safety and bullying. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Judge adds limits that prevent Hodge from participating on Road Commission

By Annette Christie

Berrien County Judge John Donahue ruled on Monday, August 14, 2017 that Bill Hodge is prohibited from participating in discussion or debate or in any manner other than that of a citizen of Berrien County, with regard to his seat on the Berrien County Road Commission.  This follows up on an order Donahue made on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 that reinstated Bill Hodge to the Berrien County Road Commission and a later order in June of 2017 which prevented Hodge from voting on Road Commission matters.

Still to be determined by Donahue is whether or not the offices of Road Commissioner and Township Supervisor, of which Hodge is both, are incompatible.  However, in Monday’s ruling Donahue stated that “irreparable injury may result from the defendant (Hodge) sitting and voting on the Berrien County Road Commission and the Bainbridge Township Board as supervisor simultaneously,” followed by, “if, at a later date after a hearing, this court rules those offices are incompatible, decisions rendered may be void or voidable and result in monetary loss to said boards.”  Donahue said in the ruling that the possibility of incompatible offices exists.

Hodge was removed from the Berrien County Road Commission December 1, 2016 after being elected as Bainbridge Township Supervisor and taking office.  The Berrien County Board of Commissioners did so through a resolution that declared that the position that Hodge filled on the Road Commission was vacant due to the Incompatibility of Offices Act (MCL 15.181 et seq).   The two public offices are incompatible because Bainbridge Township is subject to current and existing contracts with the Berrien County Road Commission during and after the date that Hodge took office with the township.

Hodge sought re-instatement through the court system.  Donahue said in his opinion in May that Hodge was not removed from the Road Commission in a manner that is compliant with two state statutes and without a hearing. Donahue stated that the Board of Commissioners, in vacating Hodge’s seat on the Road Commission through the Incompatible Pubic Offices Act could not do so as only the Attorney General or the Prosecuting Attorney may seek the judicial action to do that.  He then placed Hodge back on the Road Commission.

Judge Donahue set aside the resolution which vacated Hodge’s seat on the Road Commission but did state that the two public offices at issue may in fact be incompatible.  He did not rule on that issue. He stated that prior to Hodge being removed or ordered from the Road Commission, that he was entitled to a hearing.

Following Donahue’s ruling in May, Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic did file court documents seeking to obtain a restraining order preventing Hodge from sitting and voting on the Berrien County Road Commission or from sitting and voting on the Bainbridge Township Board as the Bainbridge Township Supervisor and ultimately seeks to have the Court rule that the offices of Township Supervisor and Road Commissioner are incompatible.

In response to that, Donahue instituted the temporary restraining order preventing Hodge from voting on the Berrien County Road Commission.

Donahue did delay the trial at the request of Hodge. A new date will be set in approximately 45 days.

Berrien County Board of Commissioners seeking public input on taking over Road Commission

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at their July 27 meeting which schedules two public hearings on the subject of the Road Commission.