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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Complaint filed with ethics board

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - A member of Monroe County's Emergency Medical Authority has filed a complaint with the state's ethics board, citing a series of alleged protocol violations that he believes undermines the authority's official status.

In his letter to Theodore J. Benca, the ethics board's executive secretary, authority member Jan Jay, said amendments to the authority's article of incorporation were never filed with the state. They included reducing the board size from 11 to nine members and the elimination of term limits.

Further, Mr. Jay said the authority's member municipalities have not stayed current in addressing changes in authority membership and weighing in on the authority amendments through official resolutions that also must be filed with the state.

"The fact is, if you don't get resolutions signed by the whole group, you don't exist," Mr. Jay said in an interview.

A call to the ethics board was not returned yesterday.

Mr. Jay has been sparring with authority members over protocol issues since last fall. He lost a suit on the issue in the county's circuit court in December. Armed with new documents, Mr. Jay said he plans on appealing that decision.

Last week, at a special meeting called by Mr. Jay, the county's attorney, Philip Goldsmith, conceded some mistakes had been made in relation to filings of documents with the state, but ruled that it did not impact the authority's existence or actions.

The authority then voted 8-1 to give Mr. Goldsmith the authority to file all the proper documents with the state. Mr. Jay was the lone dissenter.

Yesterday, Mr. Goldsmith said that process is under way. But before he can file the documents, he needs to determine whether the authority placed an advertisement in the local newspaper after it passed its amendments, as required, Mr. Goldsmith said. If not, the ad would have to be placed before the documents are filed.

Mr. Goldmsith said the authority's secretary, Vickie Koczman, has resolutions from all the member municipalities endorsing the amendments on file.

Ms. Koczman concurred.

Mr. Jay also raised the issue of whether the county's municipalities are current in their membership in the authority. Letters to the authority from Bedford, Ash, and Ida townships and the village of Maybee in 2001 and 2002 indicated resolutions were passed by their boards to continue their membership in the authority for two years. No such letters have since been filed by any municipality, Mr. Jay said.

Mr. Goldsmith said member municipalities are not required to renew their memberships. Several years ago, Ms. Koczman asked the municipalities to update their status with the authority, resulting in the letters from Bedford, Ash, Ida, and Maybee, she said. She later learned the procedure was not necessary and did not contact other municipalities.

Only if a municipality withdraws is it required to inform the authority in writing, Mr. Goldsmith said. The city of Monroe is the only member to do so.

Mr. Jay is not alone in believing the authority is acting in an illegal manner.

"I think the board needs to be brought back to legal, and all the proper documents registered and put in place," said Mike Dyer, an authority member from 1995 to 2004. "And all the municipalities of Monroe County [need to be] filed with the EMA."

Michael Demski, the authority's chairman, said the matter is being addressed. In the meantime, Mr. Goldsmith made it clear the authority is OK to continue its mission of selecting a permanent ambulance service in the wake of Hart Medical EMS's departure in April.

"We had problems in the past but believe we're on the road to acting properly. The misfiling of the paperwork does not negate the existence of the board or actions the board is taking," Mr. Demski said.

Contact George J. Tanber at:

gtanber@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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