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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2005

Ruling settles flap in Monroe County

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - A ruling yesterday by a Lenawee County judge prevented fireworks from occurring at last night's Monroe County commissioners' meeting.

District Court Judge Timothy Pickard ruled that a decision by the commissioners last month allowing a former assistant county prosecutor to pay off in a lump sum money she owed the county stemming from a court ruling against her was final and valid.

Nancy Feick sought the ruling from Judge Pickard after learning that newly elected District 8 Commissioner James Goebel of Bedford Township wanted the commission to reconsider its Dec. 14 action favoring Mrs. Feick.

Ms. Feick sued the county after she lost her job in a prosecutor's office reorganization under new leadership. The court ruled the suit frivolous and ordered Ms. Feick to pay the county $28,546.52. She paid all but $2,900 of the judgment's principal amount but owed another $10,000 in interest.

At the December meeting, Commissioner N. Randy Ansel argued that the lawsuit was frivolous and that Mrs. Feick should be allowed to pay off the principal but have the interest debt forgiven. Commissioners Thomas Mell, Jerry Oley, Floreine Mentel, and Pearl Albert-Green supported Mr. Ansel.

Commissioner David Scott argued that the commission had no right to overturn a court ruling and that the county's taxpayers would be cheated if Ms. Feick's debt was forgiven. He was supported by Bill Sick, Dale Zorn, and chairman V. Lehr Roe.

Mr. Goebel, then a commissioner-elect, was in the audience that night and decided that he would raise the issue again at his first meeting.

"I have to pay interest on my car," he said last night. "I have to pay interest on my house. This is the public's money, not the board's money. We have to have a lot of [budget] cuts, so how can we give anything away? Based on that logic, I wanted to put it out there for consideration again."

After the board's vote last month, Ms. Feick wrote the county a check for the agreed-upon amount and a letter was written to notify Judge Pickard, who made the original ruling against Ms. Feick.

But Mr. Roe declined to sign the letter before he left office Jan. 1.

"I didn't think I should exercise my position over that of a judge," he said in an interview last night. "He had ordered her to pay it regardless of what the board said. More importantly, I took an oath to protect the public funds."

Contact George J. Tanber

at gtanber@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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