Feb. 8 2017 12:36 AM
Lansing City Attorney James Smiertka has complained that a story in last week’s City Pulse on the settlement with his predecessor, Janene McIntyre, was inaccurate.

The story appeared under the headline “Another lost document/City attorney said McIntyre filed employment claim against the city.” In it, the story, reported and written by Todd Heywood, said: “The still largely unexplained $160,663 payout to former City Attorney Janene McIntyre was preceded by a legal claim she made against the city, according to the minutes of an obscure council meeting.”

The passage concerning Smiertka says: “Lansing City Attorney Jim Smiertka told the Committee on Ways and Means last August that McIntyre had been paid over $78,000 ‘for release of the claim.’ He characterized the claims as ‘employment related,’ according to minutes of the Aug. 3 meeting, but declined to explain what those claims may have been. He also noted that the Office of the City Attorney had been unable to find any written documents related to such a claim. It is one of many McIntyre-related documents that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s administration has said it cannot locate.”

Smiertka emailed City Pulse:

“You made several assertions in your article that do not accurately reflect my comments, resulting in a false narrative. As you are aware, I started my present position with the City on July 1, 2016. This was several months after the subject occurrence. You are also aware that because the issues involved the prior City Attorney, the Office of the City Attorney had recused itself from any involvement with the matter.

Therefore, neither I nor my office had any specific knowledge of the particulars of the matter. My comments at Ways and Means were based upon my general knowledge and experience in the public and private sectors relative to separations and the attendant agreements thereto. To the extent that your article inferred that I was referring to specific knowledge of the McIntyre matter, or a specific document, it was unfounded, misplaced and misleading.

“You have indicated on several occasions that you strive to be fair, but when you take comments and selectively change context and hypothetically speculate as to documents being lost without any factual basis, it is not fairness that is achieved, but what is being referred to today as alternative facts.”

Told that a review of the minutes supported the story, Smiertka replied, “There were other paragraphs in the minutes on this topic that show I was giving examples from past experiences and providing a speculative scenario. I suppose I should have read those minutes at the following meeting, but trying to get my arms around the department at that time would not allow for a lot of things I should have done.”

The pertinent portion of the minutes says: “Mr. Smiertka addressed the question on Ms. McIntyre, stating that the calculations on Ms. McIntyre payment included issues of benefits. The benefit amount was right, the hours weren’t reflected right. Ms. Bennett added to the discussion that the dollar amount in the contract was correct, but it only gave a vacation balance, not sick leave or personal time, that was also part of the calculation. Mr. Smiertka assured them again that it had to do with transmission of the calculation. The determination was $49,565 the excess of that was structurally authorized for payment because there were claims, whether under the City Attorney Mc- Intyre or the Mayor. Council Member Wood asked if that was because of the communications of a potential law suit, and Mr. Smiertka confirmed there was nothing in writing found, just claims of employment related and those could take various natures. The $78,000+ was for the release of the claim."

The complete minutes can be seen at http://www.lansingmi.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/08032016-1178.

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