March 6, 2019 ALBION, MI (AMN) – A recent to motion to replace acting City Manager Scott Kipp with Jill Domingo did not pass by a vote of 4 – 3 during Friday’s Albion City Council Meeting on March 1st.. The motion was to remove Albion Department of Public Safety Chief Kipp from the role.
The motion was introduced by Councilwoman Sonya Brown with goal of making Jill Domingo acting City Manager with immediate effect.
Albion Council members Lenn Reid, newest member Vicky Clark, Shane Williamson and Mayor David Atchison voted against the motion while council members Marcola Lawler, Sonya Brown, and Jeanette Spicer voted to remove Kipp.
Brown is facing a recall for electronic messages sent by her to then City Manager LaTonya Rufus which were obtained and posted on social media possibly illegally by a local citizen in question. The messages in question were a conversation between Rufus and Brown to get rid of Kipp.
At the March 1st meeting, Brown stated that on Feb. 22 she submitted a “criminal complaint against Kipp for unlawfully recovering electronic communications from the former city manager’s city-owned cell phone and releasing them to the public.”
“There is a difference between retrieving and recovering information,” Brown said. “One is legal and the other is questionably illegal.”
The messages were obtained from a local blogger on social media for the public to see. It is unclear how the messages were obtained by the blogger & the matter is still under investigation by local, county and reportedly state law enforcement.
It is also unclear if any law was actually broken as, according to the Internet Privacy Protection Act, a device owned by the city is subject to review by the city, City Attorney Cullen Harkness said.
“How convenient is it that we are here on a Friday night in the same week that a recall petition was submitted and a hearing set for a sitting council member,” Williamson said. “How convenient is it we’re here to attack a 20-year servant to the Albion community. This is retaliation.”
Brown disagreed, stating “the criminal complaint was filed prior to the recall petition being filed with the Calhoun County Clerk’s Office.”
Several members of the public attending the special meeting blasted the council for its behavior in the past two years with one person saying council members seem to be more preoccupied with “stabbing each other in the back than serving the city.”
“Public information, information dealing with government business between city officials and elected officials, that is public information,” per Mayor Atchison. Mayor Atchison also stated “Everyone can have a private opinion, but if you state your opinion on social media or in media interviews and you present yourself as a city employee, that leads people to believe they are speaking on behalf of the city and that’s inappropriate.”
Albion has long been viewed as a City clawing to find its footing again. Residents attending the meeting and watching from home looking for a Council and Mayor that will work together without infighting and undertones that divide the community.