'Witch hunt'

By Andy Balaskovitz
From top: Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, Council member Brian Jeffries and City Council President Carol Wood.

Dunbar alleges ‘politically motivated witch hunt’ against her, directed by Council member Brian Jeffries. Jeffries denies

Tuesday, Feb. 5 — Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar claims she is the target of a politically motivated attack in which “several” Council members, particularly Brian Jeffries, are using a personal family matter to “impugn my character.”

“Several councilmembers, led by Brian Jeffries, are dragging sensitive, personal matters pertaining to my separation into the realm of council politics. This is a calculated attempt to direct attention away from important city issues and focus instead on details of my personal life during a year when he and I are both running for re-election,” Dunbar said today in a prepared statement. (Click here for full text.)

In an interview today, Jeffries denied that he is targeting Dunbar. He responded to the allegations by saying: “I know very little of her divorce. I have not said anything public” about the personal matter.

The personal situation, according to Dunbar’s statement, involves a city-issued laptop computer that was damaged during an argument with her former husband. On Jan. 7, the Council met as Committee of the Whole and went into closed session to discuss “computer usage.”

Roughly two weeks later, when Council President Carol Wood was asked — as part of an unrelated story — why Dunbar was not appointed to chair any Council committees or to serve on any boards, Wood declined to comment, saying it’s a private matter being discussed in closed session.

It is also unclear whether the Council violated the Open Meetings Act by discussing the policy in closed session. Jeffries and Wood declined to comment when asked why the policy was discussed in closed session, citing confidentiality.

Wood said today the Council did so based on advice from former City Attorney Brig Smith. Interim City Attorney Don Kulhanek said last week that the body met in closed session to discuss a “confidential legal opinion,” but would not comment further.

See City Pulse on Wednesday for more details.