Time for a fresh startin Niles TownshipPublished 10:04pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Let’s hope Niles Charter Township seizes the moment to reboot and move beyond distracting acrimony that occupied the past few years.
Voters in the Aug. 7 primary signaled they are restive about bickering between their public officials.
Supervisor Jim Kidwell and 16-year Treasurer James Ringler lost re-election bids. Kidwell lost to Ringler’s predecessor, Jim Stover. Newcomer John Engel narrowly defeated Ringler.
Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt did not seek another term, leaving a clear path for former Niles city administrator Terry Eull.
Trustee August Kuehn also fell short in advancing to the Nov. 6 general election, so the township is assured of some fresh faces in 2013.
Too late to impact election returns, Berrien County Judge John Dewane exonerated Durm-Hiatt and Ringler by ruling they acted in good faith and did not conspire to violate the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
The judge also cleared the two officials of disclosing closed-session information to Herschel Hoese, who won one of four GOP nominations for trustee along with incumbents Richard Noble, Richard Cooper and newcomer Christine Vella to meet Democratic incumbent Gary Conover in the fall election.
Dewane’s ruling came in a May 2011 civil suit by Shane Daniel. Yet to be determined, at a hearing set for 4 p.m. Sept. 19, is whether relief should be awarded for Feb. 22 and March 7, 2011, OMA violations, on top of attorney costs which surpass the township’s $25,000 insurance cap.
May these developments usher in a new era with less expensive litigation.
This editorial represents the views of the editorial board.