In September, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed Lou Schimmel to replace Michael Stampfler as Pontiac’s Emergency Manager. Yesterday, Schimmel fired several key department heads: the city clerk, the city attorney and director of public works.
Pontiac Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel has fired the city’s clerk, attorney and director of public works in what he says is realignment in City Hall.
City Attorney Mark Hotz, Clerk Yvette Talley and Department of Public Works Director Jarvis Middleton were let go Friday.
The changes are part of what Schimmel said is an effort to put together his own team.
“My qualified team of experts,” he said.
A separation agreement is being put together for those positions, which also included firing law department employee Stephanie Sumner. […]
An employee with United Water, which is contracted to manage the city’s wastewater treatment facilities, will run public works.
That last bit is of particular interest. In a story I broke in June, I revealed that United Water was contracted by Stampfler and later hired to run the wastewater treatment plant completely. During the time he hired them United Water was facing 26-count felony indictment for Clean Water Act violations.
Michael Stampfler is Pontiac, Michigan’s EFM. He has the dubious distinction of being the first Michigan EFM to use new powers granted by Michigan Republicans to cancel a union contract. What went nearly unnoticed was that last week, he dissolved the Pontiac Planning Commission and replaced it with a smaller number of his own hand-picked, unelected members. But he also did another thing. He made a contract for water treatment services with United Water Services permanent, outsourcing the water treatment to them and laying off city water treatment officials.
This is big news. Why? Because United Water was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice last December for violating the Clean Water Act.United Water Services Inc., the former contract operator of the Gary Sanitary District wastewater treatment works in Gary, Ind., and two of its employees, were charged today with conspiracy and felony violations of the Clean Water Act in a 26-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury, the Justice Department announced today.
United Water Services Inc., and employees Dwain L. Bowie, and Gregory A. Ciaccio, have been charged with manipulating daily wastewater sampling methods by turning up disinfectant treatment levels shortly before sampling, then turning them down shortly after sampling.
According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to tamper with E. coli monitoring methods by turning up levels of disinfectant dosing prior to E. coli sampling. The indictment states that the defendants would avoid taking E. coli samples until disinfectants had reached elevated levels, which in turn were expected to lead to reduced E. coli levels. Immediately after sampling, the indictment alleges, the defendants turned down disinfectant levels, thus reducing the amount of treatment chemicals they used.
The case was investigated by the Northern District of Indiana Environmental Crimes Task Force, including agents from the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI and the Indiana State Police. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.
It’s an employee of this fine company that is now running the Pontiac Public Works department. Not only has the operation of the wastewater treatment plant been outsourced to a private firm, it appears the entire public works department will be run by them (one of their employees, more specifically), as well.