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New Baltimore Official Leans Toward Staying Put

New Baltimore city representatives, union members and Michigan Employment Security Commission are slated to meet about a controversial motion at the last council meeting.

Longtime New Baltimore Councilman Jeffrey Christie will likely not step down from his seat following his public dismay with a controversial motion at the last council meeting.

Christie said he was encouraged by residents who implored him to stay in comments in a Patch article about his resignation plans. He also said his announcement at the last council meeting was fueled by frustration in the heat of the moment.

“I am thinking about not resigning…and if I don’t resign I will probably run in November," he said Monday. “I pulled my petitions and I really don’t want to quit because I’m not a quitter. I am slowly changing my mind.”

He added, "I'm one vote. That’s all I am and I vote what I think is good for the city."

Fallout from motion remains unclear

Christie maintains, however, that a council majority violated the law when they voted to repeal a police command officers' union contract. That contract was ratified after being seen by union steward Chuck Esser following about a year of negotiations. The contract was tweaked last month based on Esser's recommendation about overtime opportunities before it was ratified, he said.

Esser, a New Baltimore police sergeant, could not immediately be reached Monday for comment.

“First of all they completely disregarded the city attorney’s advice as far as making that motion. And, also that motion from what I understand is illegal so it won’t stand,” Christie said of the council majority's decision.

Mayor Larry Smith said Monday it's unclear if the law was broken and the city should learn more by the end of the week. City attorneys, police union members and representatives from the Michigan Employment Security Commission are scheduled to meet in upcoming days to discuss the matter, he said.

"I have no idea if it's legal or not," Smith said.

Vote regarding police contract

Councilwoman Florence Hayman has said she sought to repeal the contract because the command officers changed union representation amid negotiations. That switch in representation from the Command Officers Association of Michigan (COAM) to another union was ignored by the city administration, she contends.

"Because of that, it is my belief that their prior union didn't have the authority to negotiate the contract," she said.

Hayman and council members Ken Butler, John Dupray and Karl Rutledge approved the motion while Christie and Councilwoman Susan Burkhardt rejected it.

The contract had already been finalized and did not include any major concessions, Smith said.

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