September 1, 2014

Council amends, passes resolution concerning federal prisoners

Word “detainees,” “detainment,” removed from language

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STANDISH — After hearing public comment overwhelmingly against the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Standish Max, the Standish City Council voted on a resolution Monday similar to one tabled at a special meeting Thursday, however, not before making some amendments.

The resolution Thursday voiced city council’s support for transferring federal prisoners or detainees. However, the one passed Monday at a special meeting struck out all instances of the word “detainee(s),” which terrorist suspects in Gitmo are commonly called.

Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Nelson moved to strike the word out, as well as made other changes to the resolution, which the public attending meetings in recent months have shown concern about, worrying that it will pen the door for the federal government to move in Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Standish prison freely.

“This is telling them ‘Come on in,’” said Standish resident Kelly Kimball, before the resolution was amended.

Another Standish resident, Susan Johnson, said prior to the votes on the amendments that she didn’t understand why city council was discussing the resolution, after tabling the passage of it only four days earlier.

“I’m still not hearing anything any different,” Johnson said. “If this is so good for the community, why isn’t the federal government coming forward with a plan?”

Dave Hertzberg, the Supervisor for Lincoln Township, said the lack of information has not only been on the federal level, but between Lincoln Township, where the prison is geographically located, and the city of Standish.

“Twenty years ago, we had a partnership. We had the property and you had the resources,” Hertzberg said. “We were on the same page back then.

“I can honestly say we have over 90-95% against Guantanamo Bay coming to our prison,” he continued, explaining that residents in the township he supervises would ultimately be the ones having to give up land, if it was in fact required.

Others in the crowd, while opposing the Gitmo transfer, said it’s time to move forward and that the community would survive without the prison.

“This community survived very well before the prison came in,” David Miller said. “We are not without options.”

The motion to pass the amended resolution passed unanimously.

Federal officials from several departments visited Standish Max this summer after it was slated to close by the state of Michigan. It is scheduled to be shuttered on Oct. 31.

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