East Lansing mayor Beier and councilmember Meadows unexpectedly resign during meeting

The East Lansing City Council’s July 14 meeting was not expected to be a dramatic one,  however that is what it became, after two voting members of the council resigned  suddenly.  

During the meeting, and after several agenda items had already been approved and addressed, council member Lisa Babcock decided to open a vote on terminating East Lansing City Attorney Tom Yeadon’s contract on Oct. 1.  Despite opposition from former Mayor Ruth Beier and Council member Mark Meadows, the motion to end this contract passed. Before the vote, discussion on the topic was opened by Beier, as she attempted to ask Babcock for an explanation. 

Jad Safadi

“Under the contract, no reasons are necessary,” said Babcock.  “I think we’ve had many experiences on this council that speak to the need of change.” 

The former mayor responded by challenging Babcock to present some back up to her claim. 

“The basic decency of hiring and firing requires reason,” said Beier.  “Just because you can fire someone without cause at will, doesn’t mean you should and no decent human would.” 

 Beier alleged possible wrongdoing on the part of Babcock on how this particular item made it on the agenda, and how Babcock, as well as other members of the council violated rules of The Michigan Open Meetings Act by discussing ending this contract outside of the meeting with other counselors.  She stated by collaborating together to plan this, it was a violation of this act. 

Jad Safadi

“If you have a problem with the city manager, you have an executive session,” said Beier.  “That’s when you discuss labor issues, you do not do it in public.” 

“If the council is unhappy with any its employees, there’s a proper way to take care of this,” said Meadows.  “That is to confront the employee with the unhappiness, or the specific items that are causing a problem with regard to the relationship between the city council or city council members and Mr. Yeadon.” 

When the lengthy discussion was concluded, Babcock, along with then Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Stephens and Council member Jessy Gregg voted to terminate the contract.  The vote passed 3-2. 

Shortly following the vote, Beier continued her critical speech towards the council, but made sure to thank Yeadon for his service, who was present in the meeting.  Yeadon has held the position of city attorney since 2012. 

“I am humiliated to be a part of this council,” said Beier.  “All three of you have commented that you didn’t really know how to do this, rather than find out how to do this, you decided to use your power to fire the city attorney.” 

“I would like to resign,” said Beier.  “I’m going to leave this circus to the fools who are left. It’s been great working with two of you, the rest, sayonara.”  

Beier left Stephens to move the agenda forward.  This was quickly halted by Meadows, who wanted to make his own statement. 

“The decision I have made today to resign from city council was not spontaneous, and has been contemplated by me for several months,” said Meadows.  “The action that prompted it was of course the action terminating the contract of the city attorney.” 

Meadows continued to speak about the possible rule violations the council had made in the session, before changing course by talking about his love for the city, and his many accomplishments in the city and community.  

Stephens asked Meadows if he would briefly stay in the meeting following the conclusion of his resignation statement, to which Meadows declined, and immediately left the Zoom call. 

 Stephens now shifts to the position of Mayor of East Lansing, as per rules when a mayor resigns.  The city will have a month to fill these newly opened East Lansing City Council seats, according to the meeting minutes.  The rest of the meeting was completed as planned, with Stephens now running it. 

“This was an extremely difficult meeting,” said Stephens.  “I think that it will be felt in the city for long after the close of this meeting.” 

COVID-19 cases on rise in Mid-Michigan

Michigan’s stay-at-home order was not extended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after June 12, opening the possibility for students to return to classes, allowing restaurants and bars to open in person dining, and retail stores to open with safety restrictions in place. 

Since then, COVID-19 cases in the state have been on the rise in mid-Michigan, and statewide according the State of Michigan’s COVID-19 data. CDC guidelines have been released on how to mitigate the virus, but ideas differ based on what is happening in each community, in which health professionals and experts are being put to the task on finding ways that work for their community.  

Courtesy of Jad Safadi

The question remains: Is it safe to resume certain activities, like dining out, going to public gatherings and shopping? Central Michigan University associate professor, and Division Director of Health Administration at CMU, Nailya Delellis said that financial reasons and quality of education are some wide-spread attempt to bring students back to college campuses, but still had some doubts about this being a possibility as cases are rising in the mid-Michigan area. Courtesy of Jad Safadi

“The National Institute of Health (NIH) in March stated that virus may stay on surfaces up to three days; how many people will be touching same door handle in a dorm or in a classroom,” said Delellis.  “If classes starts on Aug. 17, and if according to World Health Organization (WHO) incubation period is from five to six to 14 days, you will see a spike by the end of August.

COVID-19, flood disrupt curriculum for Midland Public Schools

In the city of Midland, Midland Public Schools is the only public school option for students within city limits. K-12 schools converted to online learning due to COVID-19, and the district devised a plan to move forward into the possibility of returning to in person classes. 

MPS Curriculum Specialist Steve Poole said that this change was sudden for the school, and they only were informed just when Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer announced that schools were closed on March 12th.  Poole said they were talking about the possibility of going online, but did not have any concrete plans when the governor began this shutdown. This school systems, in midland, and nationwide, to have to adapt to what is being described as the new normal. 

“The first week of shutdown really allowed us to be prepared,” said Poole.  “There was a lot of communication at all levels at MPS. The principals worked with the curriculum office to establish the Continuity of Learning Plan. Teachers had to concentrate on essential standards that were needed for the rest of the semester.” 

Source: Midland Public Schools

The Continuity of Learning Plan released by MPS directly stated what was required of teachers to do for students to replace a normal class, and the policies MPS would use to finish out the year.  

According to the section of the document pertaining to high school classes, students had two classes a day, for around an hour each.  Teachers were able to schedule office hours at some point in the week to have meetings with students to discuss progress, and help them continue learning, according to the document.  Finally, the document states that final grading for the semester would be credit/no credit, instead of traditional grading. 

Source: Midland Public Schools

Students like Midland Dow High senior Aiden Moneypenny said students in the district faced a massive challenge when it came to finishing out the year.  Moneypenny said students really had to stay on top of new info relayed out by the administration in the week between classes being cancelled and online work beginning, so they could not miss out on work and risk not graduating. 

“The senior project is the biggest thing we do in second semester senior English,” said Moneypenny.  “For my class at least we were expected to still do some of it but the majority was canceled, which made our total assignments for English be very small.”

Moneypenny said MPS was eventually able to establish a system resembling some sense of normality.  While not perfect, they were able to get assignments out to all students, something that Poole was quite proud of.

Midland home healthcare business adjusts to COVID-19

Great Lakes Home Care Unlimited, is a home healthcare business which began in Midland. It has since expanded to open branches to serve people in both Central, and Northern Michigan.  This local family business is owned and operated by the Laming family.  

Head of Marketing and Sales Matthew Laming, said that their business has had to make several adjustments to their normal routine, as COVID-19 restrictions were important to them. 

While not ordered to shut down like other local businesses, the business faced its own challenges.  In its case, it was how to provide safe care for their clients who needed it, while protecting themselves and the clients from COVID-19. 

Laming, who has been at the business since June 2018 said: “The business has been hurt by some aspects of this global pandemic, which I guess is really a common thing for small businesses in the area.  Although, we were not ordered to shut down when Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer began the stay home stay safe order. We are considered essential business, just like healthcare.”

Courtesy of Great Lakes Home Care

Great Lakes Home Care has had to make several adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Employee Isaiah Saladine said the business had several client call services off.  These services that were cut included in house care for people, both medical, and non-medical care.  This led to hours being cut for many employees.  As well as adding restrictions on who can enter their offices, and how many people can be there. However, business did not completely stop.  

“We still have our caregivers going to the places they are needed if services are still being requested by the client,” said Saladine.  “The goal is to give enough hours to our caregivers to make up for the lost clients during this.” 

The business states on its website that they provide both non-medical care, as well as skilled medical care.  With this, they could encounter patients that are more vulnerable to COVID-19, meaning safety procedures are incredibly important, which was stated by both employees.  Taking proper precautions on keeping staff and clients safe had to be the top priority for the business, said Laming and Saladine. 

“We’ve asked our many caregivers to wear masks, especially if it makes the client feel safer,” said Saladine. “Also, the caregivers answer questions when they clock in about whether or not they were in contact with someone with COVID-19.  If they did, they take 14 days off.