October 24, 2014

Moran resigns following settlement

James Kuch
Standish City Manager Michael Moran voluntarily resigned his position at the June 16 city council meeting following a $100,000 settlement with former Clerk Becky Laken in April.
By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Standish City Manager Michael Moran has volunteered to step down as city manager following a $100,000 settlement with former City Clerk Becky Lakin in April.

The decision was made during a closed session at the Standish City Council meeting on Thursday, June 16.

Moran said after the meeting it was time for the council to find a new city manager.

“They (city council) have gotten to the point where they have to go to the next level,” he said. “With all the financial issues with the state and our own budget, they need to get a manager in here that has experience working with municipal government.”

Moran said that was his main reason for stepping down. Adding that dealing with financial issues was beyond his background.

“When they hired me, they knew my specialty was labor and public relations,” he said. “That is where I excel and continued to excel and I think they were happy with that.”

Moran said he will work until June 30 and continue to be a presence in the community.

“I loved working with the council,” he said. “I believe that I did everything I originally told them I was able to do when they hired me.”

When the council came out of closed session Mayor Mark Winslow announced that Moran had voluntarily decided to resign.

Winslow also announced that Moran would receive a three month severance upon the agreement being signed by Winslow. Winslow was unanimously given authorization by the council.

Winslow said the council will begin a search for an interim city manager.

“I can’t give a timeline on that but we will begin a search,” he said.

The $100,000 settlement was granted to Lakin, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Moran and the city of Standish in 2010, stating that he violated the Whistleblower’s Protection Act. The city’s insurance provider, Michigan Municipal League paid the settlement.

Lakin was fired in January of 2010 said she believes she was fired for personal reasons. Adding that she kept a journal of, what she believed was being done wrong by Moran after an incident in December 2009.

“There were things that Mr. Moran was doing that were not right,” she said. “I had to correct him a number of times and he continued to do things his way and hold meetings that were not posted.”

Lakin said she “did not have a clue” that she would be terminated at a January 14, 2010 meeting.

“The city decided to consolidate the clerk and treasurer position and eliminate me,” she said. “I found out on the day before the city council meeting that I would be permanently laid off and I was welcome to apply for the position.”

Lakin said she did apply for the position, but was told that she was not as qualified over current Clerk Treasurer Peggy Burch. She added that the board unanimously voted to terminate her.

“Council members told me they wanted to give me a heads up so that I would not be shocked at the meeting,” she said. “I said I would go into the meeting as the clerk and finished my job, knowing I would be terminated.”

Lakin said she enjoyed being the city clerk and said “it was a privilege” working with the people of Standish.

“I absolutely loved my job and I loved the difference I made and I believe I made a difference for people here,” she said.

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