MASON, Mich. (WLNS) – The controversy around a proposed Malcolm X day of observance brought a state government official, local leaders and people who live in Mason to Monday’s council meeting.
“I think Rita Vogel seems to be trying to promote hate and racism in Mason and I think she should be reprimanded,” said Vicki Whipple.
Whipple is one of a small handful of Mason residents who shared their frustration with comments and actions made by Mason Council Member Rita Vogel back in February.
At that time, Vogel proposed a day of observance to remember Malcolm X and the year and a half he spent living and going to school in Mason.
Last week, the city’s board of ethics struck down a complaint directed at Vogel. Board members said the complaint related to her proposal about Malcolm X lacked merit.
Several people from around Mason spoke in support of Vogel and pressed for recognition of the civil rights leader. One of those speakers was State Senator Sarah Anthony.
“These small actions, symbolic actions that lift up all parts of our history also signal if someone feels welcome in these communities,” she said.
Near the end of the meeting, Councilwoman Vogel asked for an explanation of how ethics complaints are handled
“So that process was done so terribly from how I found out and then the day of the meeting I’m invited to it,” said Vogel.
City manager Deborah Stuart said the all-volunteer ethics board has to investigate each complaint that’s submitted, and that the city has little to do in any investigation.
“They follow the investigation, contact the complainant, they contact the person that was complained against,” she said. “So they are following the ethics ordinance as written today and of course, the council decides whether they would like to change that but there is very little flexibility for them,” said Stuart.
Councilmember Vogel said she plans to draft a resolution that would change how the ethics complaints are handled to quote not wasting staff time or board time.