Kids in the Hall

By Neal McNamara

An aggregator of Lansing government happenings

Monday night was the last Lansing City Council meeting of 2009. It was also the last meeting for Fourth Ward Councilman Tim Kaltenbach and Second Ward Councilwoman Sandy Allen.

Kaltenbach, who was absent from Monday’s meeting because he was traveling, chose not to seek reelection this year, and will be replaced by Jessica Yorko.

Allen’s case is a little different. She began her 16-year run on Council in January 1994. It ended Monday night, but the seating of Tina Houghton, who defeated Allen on Nov. 4, is at least a little in doubt. An Ingham Circuit judge will hear arguments on Dec. 30 on whether she disqualified herself by not having paid her property taxes on time.

Regardless, Allen was saluted and bid bon voyage by her Council comrades on Monday night. Council Vice President A’Lynne Robinson drafted a special resolution recognizing Allen’s accomplishments. Flanked by Robinson and Council President Derrick Quinney, City Clerk Chris Swope read a resolution that listed some of Allen’s accomplishments over the years. Allen, who was given a standing ovation, reported to the audience that she would be put where God “wants her to be” and that she hoped to become a Council “irregular.”

After the Council meeting, Allen was honored with cake in the City Council conference room, a cramped rectangular room behind Council chambers with a great view of the broad side of the House office building.

Allen’s last bit of business Monday night was the appointment of Kirk Hewitt (no relation to First Ward Councilman Eric Hewitt, though they both have moustaches) to the Board of Ethics. And in light of the events surrounding Tina Houghton, Allen announced that the Second Ward resident has not been convicted of any felonies, is a registered voter in Lansing and — of course — does not have any unpaid taxes. (We, of course, double-checked this and she is correct.) Hewitt was unanimously approved by the Council Monday and was sworn in, too. Hewitt will join the Ethics Board at a time when it has been requested to look into events surrounding Houghton’s appointment to the Parks Board when she was delinquent on taxes, and her signing of an affidavit attesting that she didn’t owe the city any debts when she registered to become a candidate last May. (The Ethics Board is set to take up this matter in 2010, after the official complaint, which was filed last Tuesday in the City Clerk’s office by Lansing resident Loretta Stanaway, is on file with the city for 30 days.)

Kaltenbach was also set to receive a resolution in his honor Monday night, but since he wasn’t there, he didn’t get it. But, like Allen, Kaltenbach had one last bit of legislation to pass before he left Council. At last Tuesday’s Council meeting (held that day because of a lack of a quorum on the Monday before) Kaltenbach saw an ordinance he created approved that would change the way streets in Lansing are named in memorium.

Before, residents had to gather 1 percent of the signatures of registered voters in the city (that would be over 800 people at the moment) on a petition and present that to the Memorial Review Board, which would then go through the process of approving or disapproving the renaming and forwarding that to the City Council.

Now, all residents have to do is fill out an application, which the city clerk will send to the Memorial Review Board, which will make a recommendation to Council. Council can then either vote yes or no.

The ordinance is at least partly in honor of Ammahad Shekarakki, as Kaltenbach has noted, who has been showing up to City Council meetings for a long time requesting that a street in Lansing be named after Malcolm X, who lived here throughout his childhood.