Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Former Hancock Mayor Barry Givens appointed for two-month City Council opening

HANCOCK -- At a special meeting on Sept. 12, 2012, the Hancock City Council nominated and voted to appoint former Mayor Barry Givens to fill -- for the September and October 2012 meetings -- an open at-large seat vacated by the recent resignation of Councilor Jim Hainault.

"We have absolutely three excellent candidates," said Councilman John Haeussler, who seconded Ted Belej's motion to nominate Givens. "It's too bad we don't have nine seats on the Council."

The three candidates, who applied for the appointment by the deadline of Sept. 10, were Givens; Kevin Hodur, owner of the Keweenaw Archive, an arts and crafts supply business; and Bonnie Holland, executive director of the Jutila Center for Global Design and Business.

Four votes were necessary for the appointment, and four "yes" votes were cast by Councilors John Haeussler, Jeremie Moore, William Laitila and Ted Belej. Councilors Lisa McKenzie and John Slivon cast "no" votes. McKenzie had nominated Bonnie Holland for the open seat, but her motion for the nomination was not seconded.

McKenzie said she nominated Holland because she has been very active on the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

"She (Bonnie) was the first one to support the facade grants through the DDA for the downtown, and she always brings fresh ideas," McKenzie said. "I hope she considers the write-in. Of course I'm more than happy to have a councilor like Barry sitting on the Council again. He was very good, too. But I think it would be nice to have new ideas."

Before the vote, Slivon noted he had a problem with the nomination of Givens.

"My problem with Barry is that there's this perception that he's the person who was primarily responsible for the excrescence under the bridge. A lot of people don't like that, and I'm one of them. When he was Mayor, I was at the meeting when he was asked if he knew what was supposed to happen with the property, and he said that he did not. I don't know what his position is with Moyle -- I think he's the chief engineer? How could he possibly not know? And the building was not built to specifications."

Slivon explained later that his understanding was that the entire structure (a condominium next to the Portage Lift Bridge) was to be no higher than the roadway level and the proposal that Moyle presented to the city satisfied that requirement.

"Then Moyle apparently changed their mind," he added, "and what was finally built was a building that unfortunately was higher than he thought the City Council had originally agreed to and quite different in character than the original design."

In the opinion of many residents, the height of the building results in an obstruction of the viewscape on and near the bridge.

Slivon said he thought Kevin Hodur would also be a good candidate.

"He's a businessman and he's got city planning in his Ph.D. education, so he'd bring some experience to the job," Slivon said.

Givens will be sworn in at the regular September meeting of the Council tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 19. He will serve only two months until the November election. Should he wish to remain on the Council, Givens will have to file a declaration of intent form by Oct. 26 to run as a write-in for a two-year term ending in 2014.

In that case he would run against any Hancock residents who file this declaration of intent (also by Oct. 26) to run as a write-in candidate for the open at-large Council seat.

In other business at the special meeting, the Hancock City Council approved Resolution Number 8-12 for an increase of $7,333 in operating funds for the City's Transit Operation for Fiscal Year 2012 -- approving  execution of the Revised MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) Project Authorization.

At their regular meeting tomorrow, Sept. 19, the Council will consider appointment to Personnel/Finance Committee and Public Works/Utility Committee to replace Jim Hainault’s positions.

Click here for the Agenda for the Sept. 19, 2012, Hancock City Council Meeting.

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