Airport Commission Tries Again to Meet
Twin County Airport Commission will try again to meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3. Three commissioners, Ted Sauve and Don Pazynski from Marinette County and Charles Meintz from Menominee, showed up for a special meeting scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29, but four are needed for a quorum, so no meeting was held.
After some discussion on dates and procedures, Sauve and Meintz signed a formal request to call a meeting for Wednesday, Sept. 3 and presented it for posting to Airport Manager Tony Krysiak. Commission by-laws state a meeting can be called if requested in writing by at least two commissioners.
During the non-meeting, Sauve noted the agenda, whenever a meeting is held, calls for election of a chair or temporary chairperson. He asked Meintz, who chairs the Menominee County Board, if they should have Menominee County Administrator Brian Bousley conduct the elections, since that is the procedure at the annual commission reorganizations. Meintz felt Sauve can do it, since he is the duly elected secretary/treasurer, and the only remaining commission officer. Meintz pointed out the reorganization meeting is different because when the Commission is reorganized there are no officers until a chairman is elected.
If a meeting is in fact held on Sept. 3, Marinette County will still be one commissioner short. Two Marinette County Board representatives on the Commission, Supervisor Nick Lakari and at-large member Mary Johns, resigned on Friday,Aug. 8.
The position that had been held by Lakari was filled on Tuesday, Aug. 26, when Marinette County Board confirmed Chair Vilas Schroeders appointment of Pazynski. Schroeder has not yet appointed anyone to fill the at-large position. Deadline set for applications was Wednesday, Aug. 27, the day after the County Board meeting. Schroeder said he wanted to be sure they select someone who has a sincere interest in the airport.
Menominee County Commissioners Garry Anderson and Chris Plutchak had both advised Airport Manager Tony Krysiak prior to the Aug. 29 meting that they would be unable to attend due to prior commitments. The meeting, on the eve of the Labor Day weekend, had been scheduled with only 24 hours advance notice.
Veteran Commissioner Sauve, as Commission secretary, is the only remaining officer. If all goes well, an interim chair and vice chair will be elected on Wednesday to serve until Marinette County has a full contingent.
Sauve had scheduled a meeting for Thursday, Aug. 28, but Menominee County Prosecutor Dan Hass declared the notice did not comply with Michigan Open Meetings laws because it was not on a regular meeting date and did not specify special meeting. Commission by-laws say they must meet once a month. Regular meetings are scheduled in advance for the third Tuesday of each month.
The Commission has been unable to conduct a meeting since June 17, when the Marinette County commissioners declined to seat Menominee County appointee Garry Anderson.
Airport employees have been paid, but no other matters have been tended to. Non-routine bills remain unpaid, budget work is waiting to be done, a request from the Airport Manager for compensatory hours for holidays has not been considered, and a sponsor contract for a crack repair/seal project remains to be signed.
If all current members show up ready to work for the Sept. 3 meeting, the commission will still be one member short. Marinette Countys at-large seat remains vacant, and apparently will not be filled until after the next Marinette County Board meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30.
The problems started back in June, after Menominee Commission Chair Jason Lauzer, at-large representative from Menominee County, resigned to accept employment in another city. Menominee County Board selected Garry Anderson to fill its at large vacancy.
However, at its June meeting the Airport Commission declined to seat Anderson because of possible conflict of interest due to his ownership of a hangar at the airport in Menominee and lease of the property it stands on from the Airport Commission.
Subsequently, Anderson sold his hangar and transferred the lease to a new owner, Gene Coleman. However, the three Marinette County Commissioners maintained that some of the documents required to verify the transactions had not been properly submitted and at on Tuesday, July 15 again, by three to two vote, Marinette against Menominee, the Commission refused to seat Anderson. That refusal led Menominee Commissioners Meintz and Plutchak to walk out. With a quorum no longer present, Lakari declared the meeting adjourned. No regular business on the long agenda was conducted.
At a special meeting of the Menominee County Board on Friday, July 18, Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Hass was asked to file suit aimed at forcing the Airport Commission to accept Garry Anderson as the its citizen at large member. Hass filed the suit later that day. The hearing was subsequently scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8. Airport Commission members were ordered to attend.
Lakari called a special meeting of the Commission for noon on Friday, Aug. 8, but only he, Sauve and Johns showed up. Again there was no meeting. Citing lack of support, legal and otherwise, from Marinette County, Lakari and Johns submitted their resignations from the Commission.
Marinette County had no legal representation at the 3 p.m. hearing, and Menominee Circuit Court Judge Richard Celello issued a ruling that seated Garry Anderson as Menominee Countys third member of the airports governing body. Marinette county was left with Sauve as its only representative on the airports governing body.
There was a regular monthly Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 19, but Sauve, as the Commissions only remaining officer, ordered Krysiak to cancel it.
That action drew objections from Meintz, and led to an exchange of e-mails. Meintz declared that action illegal, and said it would take a board action to cancel the meeting. He ordered Sauve to repost it.
Sauve reportedly replied that he did not plan to attend a meeting until Marinette County had full representation, and wanted to wait until after the Marinette County Board meeting on Aug. 26.
Andersen wanted the meeting held with or without Sauve, but ultimately there was no meeting on Aug. 19. Then, on Thursday, Aug. 21, Sauve instructed Krysiak to post the notice for the Thursday, Aug. 28 meeting. Hass was consulted and said the meeting had been illegally rescheduled. He said regular Commission meeting dates are set by the Commission at the start of the year. He said setting a meeting on any other date and not identifying it as a special meeting violated Michigans Open Meetings laws.
Sauve then had a new notice posted with the special meeting set for Friday, Aug. 29. He, Meintz, Pazynski, Krysiak and one member of the press were the only ones there.
Sauve shared copies of documents dating back to 2007, when he received advice from Marinette County Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison and Atty. Andy Phillips through Wisconsin Counties Association on Open Meetings Law requirements.
Sauve and Meintz discussed legal conflicts between the two states and agreed that both sets of laws must be followed, regardless of where the meeting is held. When they are in conflict the most stringent prevails. Hass at that time ruled they must be governed by Michigan Open Meetings laws, and Mattison agreed, but said Marinette County Commissioners also must follow Wisconsin laws, regardless of where the meeting is physically located.
Sauve recalled years ago when they tried to alternate between the states for meetings, but that did not work out and they still need to comply with Open Meetings regulations from both states.
After Fridays non-meeting, Sauve expressed concern for the future of the airport, of which he has been a strong supporter for several decades.
Sauve said there are indeed difficulties because of being owned by counties from two states, but added sometimes that has been an advantage, because people from both states will go to bat for you.
For example, he said, years ago when he was fighting to get funding for an instrument landing system (ILS) at Twin County he got help from Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA). After flying to Washington, D.C. at his own expense to meet with the WCA lobbyist and Wisconsin legislators they worked with him and eventually Twin County was one of two airports in the nation given funding that year for an ILS system. That was just one instance.
The airport also gets grants, funding and other assistance from Michigan agencies.
Sauve said the goal of both counties has always been to eventually make the airport self supporting, and keep it as an economic asset for the entire Marinette/Menominee community. He feels the Explorer Solutions study is a step toward doing just that. He is concerned that the disagreement between the airports co-owners may discourage potential businesses from investing in a venture at the airport, and then all the work and expense will be for nothing. He expressed hope Commissioners from both sides of the river will put their personal differences behind them and work together for the good of the airport and the entire Marinette and Menominee county area.
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