April 9 2009 12:00 AM
After a Wednesday special meeting of the Lansing City Council ordered by Mayor Virg Bernero to try and get a vote to set a public hearing on the sale of the North Capitol parking ramp to Lansing Community College, First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt accused the mayor of wasting time.

“I'm a little ticked off at the tactics, and my time being wasted,” Hewitt said of the mayor's decision to convene a special meeting and set the one-item agenda. The city charter grants the mayor the authority to call such meetings, but Hewitt claims the mayor abused that power in calling Wednesday's meeting, saying the special meetings are supposed to be reserved for emergencies.

Bernero announced his order for the meeting on Tuesday night. His office issued a press release with him saying, “It is unfortunate that certain Council members will not allow the public to be heard on this issue. It is time for them to stop treating the sale of the ramp like a political football and start doing the job they were elected to do.”

Hewitt said that the Council didn't need another public hearing or more facts — Council had held a public hearing in August after the deal was presented to the body.

Hewitt said that without any substantial changes to the deal, his vote would not change. In fact, even if the proposed sale price of $2.7 million were raised to the nonprofit rate of $3.8 million, which was initially sough by some on Council, Hewitt said he wouldn't support the sale.

"I don't want us to sell our house just to have to turn around and rent it," he said, referring to the city offices located on the ground floor of the ramp, which the city would rent from LCC after the sale of the ramp.

Asked if calling the special meeting was the only way to get a public hearing on the issue scheduled (after the Council shot down Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Kaltenbach's attempt to add the public hearing to last week's agenda as a late item), Bernero said he didn't know if it was the only way to get the hearing set but was glad it was done.

He said he is "hopeful" the deal will be approved.

Hewitt, who's made no secret of his support for Councilwoman Carol Wood in her bid for mayor, was hopeful for something else.

"I just hope the voters remember the strong arm tactics being used and go to the polls in November," he said.

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