Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan
Defined Benefits Deficit Spending
The Siege Mentality Prevails



This article is one of a series of editorial articles that express personal opinions and views. They are written with no pretensions to be error free. I will gladly correct substantial errors of fact. My opinions can change, depending upon my awareness of changes in factual information. It is my intent to remain focussed on specific public issues, regarding the personalities involved. For all I know, all the characters are saints, concerning their private lives and other public business...

Changes may be requested by E-MAILing the details to


I was on the 12/15/04 published agenda, of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners meeting of 12/21/04, to address M.E.R.S. related issues. On 12/21/04 I attended the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners meeting, to find that I was not on a new agenda dated 12/21/04.

What "open meetings" violations may have occurred, beyond the legislated requirement of 18 hours public notice, I do not know. I do know that a majority of Schoolcraft County Commissioners, acting as outlaws, do not care, because no one spoke up.

During the brief public comment period, before the consideration of business, I asked why I was deleted from the agenda. Schoolcraft County Board Chairman Frenette stated that I had the opportunity, at the special meeting of 12/13/04, to discuss any M.E.R.S. business, and he was going to hear no more. I then asked him if the County Board would answer M.E.R.S. related questions during the extended public comment period, after the Board's discussion of business. He said "No." I then told him he "...could read about it, later."

What follows, first, is the introduction to my presentation, the purpose of which was to establish a degree of ignorance and irresponsibility, of mine or others, regarding a litany of M.E.R.S. issues that county officials refuse to consider, in public.

"This is a written and oral presentation, by Schoolcraft
County resident, Peter Markham, to present, in a candid
manner, information and questions concerning his apparent
ignorance and misunderstanding of various Schoolcraft
County M.E.R.S. related issues excluded by the agenda
language of the M.E.R.S. related special County Board
meeting of 12/13/04.

Before I make this presentation, regarding my view of an 
extensive, expensive, and obscure history of particular 
Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. related business, I would like 
some short "yes" or "no" answers to the following questions. 
Further elaboration by the Board is welcome, and expected, 
after I have finished reading my presentation. If any thing 
I say is significantly incorrect in fact, or unjustified in 
assumption, or conclusion, I expect any public official to
specify the details of my ignorance and false rationale.

A written copy of my entire presentation, without the 
requested "yes" or "no" or "silence" answers to the 
questions asked, has been provided County Board Secretary 
Doyle, to be included in the written public record of this 
meeting; hopefully, with the answers given by County Board 
Chairman Frenette, County Clerk Doyle, and County Treasurer 

My Introductory questions follow: 

Do the current M.E.R.S. "minimum required contributions" 
pay for the projected B4 benefits to be paid the current 39 
county employees in Division 01?

Do the current M.E.R.S. "minimum required contributions" 
pay for the projected B4 benefits to be paid the 11 non-union
county employees in Division 01?

Does current Schoolcraft County employment policy include B4 
retirement benefits for the current 11 non-union county 
employees in Division 01?

Are there public record minutes, of public meetings, that 
disclosed the projected total costs of each and every new
major Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. retirement plan liability
incurred by Schoolcraft County from, and including, 1997,
when the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners voted
to award its members retroactive M.E.R.S. retirement
benefits, 95% of which is payed with future tax revenues?

Can I obtain, from a county official, a copy of a local 
record of each and every M.E.R.S. Inc. actuarial assumption 
and total projected costs worksheet of each new major 
liability to M.E.R.S. Inc., incurred by Schoolcraft County, 
since 1997?

Is there a local public record of the total projected cost, 
prior to the time they became effective, of M.E.R.S. Inc's 
actuarial assumptions and projections of the A.F.S.C.M.E. 
union bargained retroactive B4 benefits?

Is there a local public record of the total projected cost, 
based on today's actuarial assumptions, of the A.F.S.C.M.E. 
union bargained retroactive B4 benefits, at the time they 
became effective?

Is there a local public record of the total projected cost, 
based on past or present M.E.R.S. Inc. actuarial assumptions 
and projections, of the consequential benefit liability 
created by placing county non-union workers in the same 
M.E.R.S. Division 01 as A.F.S.C.M.E. union employees?

Is there a local public record of the total projected cost, 
based on past or present M.E.R.S. Inc. actuarial assumptions 
and projections, of the consequential benefit liability 
created by granting county non-union workers, in Division 
20, virtually identical M.E.R.S. B4 benefits to those 
granted A.F.S.C.M.E. union employees, in Division 01?

I am sure, that if I wished to consider, further, the 
details and implications of what I have come to understand, 
in my mounting ignorance, as my failure to see the emperor's 
new clothes, I would have more questions about the nature 
and motives of those that continue to claim that I, and 
Commissioner Erickson, suffer from a common perceptual 
disease, that moves us to speak of that which does not 
Then followed the reasons for my interest, and the manner in which they were circumvented by the County Board.
"Due to my apparently imagined perception of gross
ignorance, evasion, and deceit, of Schoolcraft County elected
officials, regarding M.E.R.S. related issues discussed at 
previous Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners meetings, 
I formulated the following M.E.R.S. related questions to be 
directed to a knowledgeable and responsible individual, 
unaffected by a personal interest in the issues of interest 
to me.

The only knowledgeable person I knew of was Lynda Pittman, 
Marketing Manager for M.E.R.S. Inc., with whom I had an 
extended e-mail correspondence, earlier this year.

On the evening of 12/13/04, at the Schoolcraft County 
Courthouse, the County Board held a special meeting to hear 
a presentation by M.E.R.S. Marketing Manager, Lynda 
Pittman, "...for the purpose of hearing the Defined Benefits
and Defined Contributions and B2 vs. B4 Retirement..."

By state law, the business of a special meeting is restricted
to the specified business of the special meeting's published
agenda. That meant that M.E.R.S. related business, not
specified by a special meeting agenda, cannot be considered,
or discussed. 

Ms. Pittman had nothing to gain, personally, by 
misrepresenting, or avoiding any particular M.E.R.S. issue of
interest. She had the professional qualifications to answer
almost any question, in an appropriate and professional manner.
She was muzzled by the County Board, at the special meeting,
by the restrictive language of the agenda, and, consequentially, 
the significant value of unfettered, impartial and candid 
dialog, concerning any M.E.R.S. business, from a 
professional competent in M.E.R.S. matters, was lost to the 

During her limited presentation and discussion, and after 
the special meeting was closed, Lynda answered my questions 
as a responsible and knowledgeable professional should, as
I sought further understanding of the essential concepts upon
which much of Schoolcraft County's M.E.R.S. plan is based. She
did a commendable job, during the special meeting, and after,
to provide direct and candid answers to all questions that were 
asked, by me and others.

Not once did I notice that she was evasive. Not once did I 
hear her say anything that tripped my "baloney alarm". 
Without the ability to read the intentions of those asking 
questions, she answered all questions in sufficient relevant 
detail that I feel secure in, and proud of, most of which I 
had to speculate about, in greater relative ignorance, earlier.

The questions, and subsequent answers I list, were answered
during the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners special
meeting of 12/13/04, and an open "question and answer" session,
with Lynda, after that special meeting was closed. It is
interesting to note, that, other than Commissioner Erickson,
no one with a direct responsibility for understanding M.E.R.S.
business chose to "stay after school" to gain a greater
understanding of the public or professional responsibilities
they had abused, shirked, or were unaware of.

The questions, answers and elaboration that follow, 
represent my understanding of what I have witnessed, locally 
- and my understanding of my discussions with Ms. Pittman, 
in public, in the Circuit Courtroom of the Schoolcraft 
County Courthouse, following the special County Board 
meeting 12/13/04. In no way does anything I have to say 
represent any quote, intent, or understanding of Ms. 
Pittman, beyond my personal comprehension of topics
we discussed.
The questions, and subsequent answers, follow:
I tried to maintain some sort of logical order to my 
questions and assumptions directed to Lynda Pittman, so that
relevant answers to prior questions helped to answer
subsequent questions. 

Q. Is there any truth to the numerous statements made
by the Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan Administrator,
Sigrid Doyle, that the $4+ billion of M.E.R.S. Inc.
assets, including the assets of the various government
plans it manages, have relevance to the liquidity
of the Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. plan, from which
retirement benefits will be paid to current and future
retired Schoolcraft County employees?

A. No.

Question rephrased: If Schoolcraft County does not pay for 
the retroactive, current and future retirement benefits 
premiums of its retired employees, who will?

A. Schoolcraft County, a.k.a. Current and future
Schoolcraft County taxpayers.

Q. How are Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. plan current and 
future retiree benefits funded?

A. The County M.E.R.S. Administrator makes M.E.R.S. Inc. 
aware of each new M.E.R.S. division liability (retiree) that 
must be paid, in any given year. Each year, M.E.R.S. Inc. 
calculates a new 30 year amortized total of benefit payments 
to all retirees of the previous year. The monthly minimum 
required contribution, from each division, each year, 
reflects nothing more than a particular division's minimum 
premium payment that M.E.R.S. Inc. requires to meet all known 
retirement payments, based on the latest actuarial 
assumptions of the prior year.

That means that today's minimum required contribution 
premium payments DO NOT include payment, for any part of 
any B4 retirement benefits for anyone, except one county
employee that retired in 2002.

That means, essentially, that most funding for all future
retirees will be added to the County's bill from M.E.R.S. Inc.,
because next to nothing has been added to the plan's investment
assets to offset the increase costs of paying for new retirees'
retroactive B4 benefits.

Q. Where does the money come from to pay for new retirement 
benefits for those that never had them, and never earned them,
during the time for which they voted themselves, and others,
eligible to receive new retroactive benefits.

A. The money for new and old benefits, unable to be paid for 
by an under funded plan, come, directly, from current and 
future tax revenues, in the form of a "minimum required 
contribution" for each plan division.

Within the context of yearly variations of actuarial 
assumptions, applied to each plan's division, there cannot 
be any unfunded payments made, because the total yearly 
benefits paid to all retirees in a division are amortized 
into a continually evolving 30 year payment plan, each and 
every year, for the lifetime of the plan. That means that 
whatever the current amortized premium payments are, for a 
particular year, those payments meet Schoolcraft County's 
minimum obligation to M.E.R.S. Inc., to meet the minimum
funding required by M.E.R.S., of the current benefit year.

Q. What is the purpose of a M.E.R.S. Inc. "minimum required 

A. To provide a "minimum" payment that insures an undefined 
degree of liquidity, over time, of the county plan, within 
the constraint of M.E.R.S. Inc's awareness of the effect of 
market forces upon a particular plan's assets, i.a.w. the 
particular plans structure, the retirement benefit load, and 
the credit history of the government under which the plan is 
created. There is no particular amount beyond what M.E.R.S. 
Inc. determines is due to meet its fiduciary 
responsibilities to the retirees of any particular plan.

Schoolcraft County's monthly "minimum required 
contributions", are similar, in effect, to the minimum 
monthly payment of a credit card. A "minimum monthly 
contribution" allows local government officials to spend 
future county tax revenue, today, to buy retroactive and 
future retirement benefits, for which the future taxpayer 
receives no benefit. To rephrase the effect, it allows
county officials to spend today's tax revenue on expenses
other than employee benefits incurred today, and

In effect, future county taxpayers will pay a significant 
part of today's wage and benefit package, of today's county 
employees, for which the future county taxpayer receives no 

Since 1991, the financial wizards of Schoolcraft County 
chose minimum payments, because it allowed Schoolcraft 
County to spend current tax revenues for expenses other than 
what was required to maintain the M.E.R.S. retirement plan 
at a level that would meet the known current and future 
retirement benefit liabilities that Schoolcraft County elected
officials created.

M.E.R.S. gave Schoolcraft County all the credit that it 
needed, for its leaders to create a current unacknowledged 
and unknown debt, of unknown millions, because, as County 
Board Chairman Frenette noted, so astutely, at the special
meeting of 12/13/04, "Schoolcraft County is not about to go

Q. Why, according to the 2003 Actuarial report, page 15, does 
Schoolcraft County's M.E.R.S. plan Division 01 have a 45.6% 
unfunded accrued liability, of some $933,732, considerably 
higher than others, if all the divisions are subject to 
similar actuarial data and projections to determine minimum 
required payments by the same employer?

A. No two divisions are alike in their mix of wages, ages, 
benefits, salaries, percentage of retirees, etc. As long as 
the total funded balance of the county plan, required to
meet the total current liabilities, of all divisions of a
plan, remains above 60%, M.E.R.S. Inc. is content.

As long as the county continues to pay "minimum required
contributions", M.E.R.S. Inc. is content.

As I understood Lynda Pittman, in the context of the topics 
discussed on 12/13/04, there is little to no new credit to 
be extended to the county, by M.E.R.S. Inc. That means that 
the total consequences of all the retroactive M.E.R.S. B4
benefits deficit spending, that is yet to be billed, or
paid, will be added into Schoolcraft County's yearly 
amortized total "minimum required contribution" when those 
B4 benefits, for each retiree, come due at their retirement.

As there has been little added to the funded investment 
portion of the plan, by past "minimum required 
contributions" - just as little is paid off the principal of 
a credit card debt, with a "minimum payment" - most of the 
future B4 benefits will be paid directly from county tax 
revenues, added into the "minimum required payments".

Q. If Schoolcraft County employment contract changes are 
made, that effect a division's future benefit liabilities, 
how does M.E.R.S. Inc. obtain the contract information 
required to determine the increase in a division's future 
liability, so that an appropriate increase in the minimum 
required contribution can be made, to insure that some
of the increased liability, for the payment of new future
retirement benefits, will be paid for by the increased
returns from an increased funded investment portfolio?

A. As far as M.E.R.S. Inc. is concerned, the system of 
financing benefit payments requires no understanding of, or 
concern for, the future costs of new retirement benefits to 
the county, beyond the process of how to determine, as 
accurately as possible, what the costs will be.
Consideration of the impact of deferred retirement benefit 
costs, as determined by M.E.R.S., that come due after those 
that created them are retired and collecting them, or dead, 
is the responsibility of the county creators and 
implementors of such benefits, as they consider appropriate 
for the future general electorate paying the bills.

Q. Is it legal for Schoolcraft County officials and M.E.R.S. 
Inc. to establish a contract for retroactive M.E.R.S. 
retirement benefit plan, amortized over 30 years, with no 
public knowledge of the costs, based on credit that binds 
future county taxpayers, to pay for, with future county tax 
revenues, benefits from which future county taxpayers derive 
no value?

A. Yes. As far as M.E.R.S. Inc.'s involvement in Schoolcraft 
County's M.E.R.S. plan is concerned, if M.E.R.S. Inc. has no 
knowledge of wrong doing by Schoolcraft County public 
officials, county officials may commit future county tax 
revenues, for retroactive employment benefits, without 
public knowledge of the future costs and impact on future 
county budgets.

Legal is not the same as ethical, and regarding Schoolcraft 
County's M.E.R.S. related business, since 1997, I would not be 
surprised if some of it is illegal. Since I have no reason to
believe a voting majority knows or cares about who will
pay an unknown bill of unknown millions, for that which they
derive no benefit, my concerns are of little public value.

Q. Are the Schoolcraft County non-union workers, moved into 
General Division 01, due the same B4 rate of unfunded 
benefits contracted for by the A.F.S.C.M.E. union workers in 
the same division, even though page 53, Benefit Provision 
History, of the 2003 Actuarial Report, shows that no benefit 
changes for non-union employees has taken place since 1992, 
and no county employment contracts terms indicate a right to 
such benefits?

Question rephrased:
If no binding employment contract term exists, and no public 
record exists, of any county intent to pay M.E.R.S. Division 
01 non-union workers the same retirement benefit rate as 
union, does the mere inclusion of non-union workers, in 
Division 01, by the Schoolcraft County Clerk/M.E.R.S. Plan
Administrator, guarantee them Division 01 benefits, of
unknown cost, of unknown impact to future county budgets in
an era of shrinking revenues?

A. Yes. All members of a division get identical benefits.

Q. Is a benefit change, for a particular division, 
retroactive to a division member's full M.E.R.S. qualified 
period of employment, or is a new change effective only from 
the time it becomes a funded part of the plan?

A. The defined benefits apply to an employee's entire M.E.R.S. 
qualified period of employment,

Q. Why would M.E.R.S. allow Schoolcraft County officials to 
incur a debt of unknown size and duration, with unknown 
impact on the availability of future county services and 
goods, paid from the same revenue source, when only one 
commissioner admits a vague knowledge of the bill?

A. As far as M.E.R.S. Inc. is concerned, it is the 
responsibility of local government officials to consider the 
impact of future retirement plan benefits on future county 
budgets, good and services. It is not M.E.R.S.' 
responsibility to determine what is good for the county, or 
not, even though M.E.R.S. has the ability to provide any 
retirement plan cost forecasts, within the accuracy of given 
actuarial assumptions."
I reached the following conclusions as a consequence of my understanding concerning various Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. issues, about which no one but Commissioner Erickson chose to speak, in public, or private.

The Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. plan is a defined benefit
plan that is paid for, 100%, by Schoolcraft County. There
is no cost to the county, carried on the books, that is
paid by the county, until someone retires. Each year, the
cost of the past year's new retirees is figured into a new
30 year amortized cost. Part of that cost is paid with
monthly "minimum required contributions" as determined by
M.E.R.S. Inc. Part of that cost is paid for by the
investment market returns for the liquid portion of
Schoolcraft County's M.E.R.S. plan.
To the best of my understanding, what has taken place is 
deficit spending, of an unknown magnitude, not carried on 
the books, with a significant impact on future Schoolcraft 
County budgets, that no one wants to acknowledge, because 
just about everyone involved benefits, personally, in some 
fashion - at future public expense.

To the best of my knowledge, the Schoolcraft County Board of 
Commissioners, and the Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan 
Administrator, with the implicit approval of the Schoolcraft 
County Treasurer, took no significant action to determine 
the future cost of retroactive retirement B4 benefits the 
Board voted itself, and other county employees, since 1997. 
I have seen no projected numbers; as if spreadsheet software 
is unavailable, and M.E.R.S. Inc. expects ignorant local 
talent to make important financial decisions, with no idea 
of the numbers involved.

The Schoolcraft County Treasurer, has, on several occasions 
I have witnessed, voiced her concerns, timidly, about the 
unknown impact of unknown future retirement premium costs, 
on a steadily shrinking Schoolcraft County budget. Her 
absence from the special meeting of 12/13/04, was, from my 
perspective, inexcusable, because, other than Commissioner 
Erickson, she was the only government official to voice any 
objective and relevant concern.

I can only hope that Treasurer Evonich has the courage to 
drag the rest of this festering M.E.R.S. mess into the 
light, for public scrutiny, because no one else, that I know 
of, other than "Lame Duck" Erickson, has shown any inclination
to do so.

Based on what I heard and witnessed, at the Schoolcraft 
County Board of Commissioners special meeting of 12/13/04, I 
concluded that everyone present, other than Commissioner 
Erickson, spoke as if funding for retroactive B4 
benefits is paid for, in today's "minimum required 
contribution" for M.E.R.S. retirement premiums.

Lynda Pitmann never said that. She did say that what is due, 
today, is funded 104%. That statement has nothing to do with 
paying for all the future retroactive B4 retirement 
benefits, when they come due, as I have explained. 

Based on what I heard and witnessed, at the Schoolcraft 
County Board of Commissioners special meeting of 12/13/04, 
Chairman Frenette said there are no B4 benefits due non-
union county employees.

Schoolcraft County's M.E.R.S. Plan, General Division 01, has 
some 11 non-union county employees, eligible for B4 
benefits, i.a.w. M.E.R.S. Inc's policy. At the 12/13/04 
special "M.E.R.S." meeting, Schoolcraft County Board of 
Commissioners Chairman, Lindsley Frenette, looked towards the 
audience, at the end of the meeting, and stated that no non-
union county employees had B4 retirement benefits due.

M.E.R.S. Marketing Manager, Lynda Pittman, said all those in 
the same division, get the same benefits...Period.

On 06/29/00, the County Board granted most non-union
department heads B4 benefits.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has expressed any real 
understanding of how much the impending B4 benefits will cost 
the county, or the fiscal impact on the county. Everyone, 
except Commissioner Erickson, has a siege mentality 
concerning the issues.

From my perspective, since 1999, Schoolcraft County's 
M.E.R.S. plan has been little more than a credit card to 
purchase county employee benefits, and votes, with future 
tax revenues. To the best of my knowledge, since 1997, no 
one has ever presented, to the public, the projected costs 
of benefits granted by their elected officials.

What are the total costs to the county for the amortized 
retroactive benefits that the Schoolcraft County Board of 
County Commissioners voted themselves, and others, since 
1997? What does it take for me to know what it cost 
Schoolcraft County to make retired life a lot more 
comfortable and secure for a small group of officials that 
earned it; not by public value provided, but by an 
underhanded, secretive, and deceptive process worthy of any 
group of public con artists?  
Unknown millions, of future county tax revenue, have been 
spent by generous elected officials, who chose, and still 
choose, to keep the costs hidden from public scrutiny. The
manner in which the costs have been hidden vary from silence
to blatant deceit.

What makes the abuse of Schoolcraft County's M.E.R.S. plan 
so insidious, is the fact that had there not been a few 
outsiders that eventually came to understand the concepts, 
mechanics and details of the process, no one would have been 
wiser, and all the participants would have retired with 
their plaques and media accolades, while the unwashed masses 
wondered why their butts were so sore.

Schoolcraft County Board Chairman Frenette said, 12/13/04, 
with a big smile on his face, "Schoolcraft County is not 
about to go broke", to which I will add, " ...not because
of the lack of effort by you and your cronies".

I expect to be corrected, this evening, by any County Board 
member, Clerk, or Treasurer, for any significant 
misunderstanding I may have, concerning facts, and 
unjustified assumptions or conclusions. I expect corrections 
to specify the details of my ignorance and rationale. I will 
make sure that all corrections are given appropriate credit, 
as I give Lynda Pittman.
Needless to say, on 12/21/04, Chairman Frenette, with default approval of the Board, chose to have the M.E.R.S. related issues considered in a less appropriate and more public manner, for the world to see how personal benefit sways public decisions, in Schoolcraft County.

I have little doubt that M.E.R.S. Inc. loves the publicity surrounding its benign involvement, in what I can only view, charitably, as an ethical and financial mess, created, to a great degree, by the Chairman of Public Lunacy. He stated, at the County Board meeting, of 12/21/04, that he denied me the right to address the Board by agenda, and denied my right to speak of M.E.R.S. matters during the extended public comment period, because I had my chance to speak at the "M.E.R.S." special meeting of 12/13/04, the agenda of which made it illegal to discuss any M.E.R.S. business not specified by that published agenda, authorized by his signature.

What the special meeting of 12/13/04 has to do with my right to address the Board, on 12/21/04, I cannot guess, because my mind cannot follow the Chairman's loony logic.

What makes the situation even more idiotic is the fact that I told him, prior to Lynda's presentation, and in her presence, that the special meeting agenda made illegal any public consideration of most of my M.E.R.S. related questions, at that special meeting.

So it goes, in Schoolcraft County. To me, Lindsley Frenette has always been a "good ol' boy" whom I consider brain dead. I cannot get rid of him, in a civilized manner, because he is re-elected by an electorate outside of my district, to run the county, unopposed, giving away public value as fast as he can find it, because it buys the loyalty to be re-elected, by all that profit from his public largesse, in or out of his district.


A M.E.R.S. related presentation by Schoolcraft County Deputy Sheriff, Jerry Jack, was listed on the 12/30/04 agenda of the Schoolcraft County Audit and Finance Committee, chaired by Commissioner Aldrich. Mr. Jack stated, in the introduction of his presentation, that he wished to purchase 2 years of M.E.R.S. "generic time" retirement credit, as certain commissioners had done, in 1997.

Interrupting Jack's introduction, Chairman Aldrich asked Deputy Jack if he had addressed his concerns to the "personnel committee". Mr. Jack stated that he had not. Chairman Aldrich then stated that the Audit and Finance Committee would hear no more, until Jack had addressed his concerns to the personnel committee.

Aldrich then stated, in effect, that the situation to which Jack was referring was under legal consideration by the "prosecutor". Aldrich provided no specific reference to a formal request from a source of professional legal advice. As a spectator, I assumed that Aldrich spoke of Schoolcraft County Prosecutor Hollenbeck, who was rumored to have stated that he had no official business with the topic, as of the morning of 12/30/04.

Jerry Jack then asked if he could address the topic of interest during the public comment period. Aldrich said "Yes."

During the public comment period, Mr. Jack stated, that as far as he was concerned, all county employees should have had the opportunity to purchase generic time at the same rate as the commissioners - 5 cents on the dollar; if what the commissioners did was legal. He said he would take his presentation to the personnel committee, and proceed from there.

There are no elected or appointed officials more informed than Commissioners Aldrich and Frenette, regarding the business that Jack wished to address. Both commissioners were involved with the entire questionable M.E.R.S. business, and both attended the Audit and Finance meeting of 12/30/04. The Personnel Committee, to which Aldrich referred Jack, consists of Commissioners "Lame Duck" Dufour, a "dead duck" in one more day, and relative newcomer Dan McKinney, both of whom had no involvement with, or credentials regarding, the specific M.E.R.S. policy business that Deputy Jack wished to discuss with Finance-Audit Committee members.

As Sigrid Doyle is the Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan Administrator, and was present at the meeting, I could understand that Aldrich, in his continued desire to evade the issue, might direct Jack to address his request to her via some other county policy requirement. I do not understand what process of reason would motivate Commissioner Aldrich to refer Deputy Jack to the "personnel committee" members, with little more responsibility for past Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan policy than the Schoolcraft County Dog Catcher.

In effect, Mr. Jack was added to the agenda authorized by the signature of "Keith P. Aldrich, Chairperson Schoolcraft County Finance-Audit Committee", and then told to take his business elsewhere.

I understood Commissioner Aldrich's directive to Jack, and Commissioner Frenette's approving silence, as "F*** off Jack! We don't wanna hear it!" Based on the absence of any specific reference to a formal request for legal advice, I have little doubt that Aldrich was talking through his ass, with Schoolcraft County Board Chairman Frenette's silent approval.

The "M.E.R.S. Siege" mentality prevails, again.

An "Attaboy!" for WTIQ newscaster, Robb Lucas, for reporting most of the M.E.R.S. related highlights of the 12/30/04 meeting, during the WTIQ radio news at 12:00, 12/31/04. He did omit mention of Commissioner Aldrich's reference to legal consideration by the "prosecutor". Given the context of what took place, on the evening of 12/30/04, that was no small omission.


As of 01/06/05, I became aware of two substantiated rumors. The first, attributed to Commissioner Frenette, indicates that if Deputy Jack wished to pursue the M.E.R.S. retirement benefits, that he and other county employees were denied when the County Board created its own retroactive M.E.R.S. retirement benefit package, inconsistent with the retirement benefit package of other Schoolcraft County employees in the same M.E.R.S. plan General Division 01, and other divisions, then he, Jack, "...should consider the history of such benefits a done deal and get a lawyer, to speak to ours...".

The second rumor indicates that county employees understand, generally, that the cost of "giving" generic retirement credit, at 5% of actuarial value, to all county employees, is a cost prohibitive solution. A voiced and more equitable solution would be to force the culpable commissioners to return their ill gotten retroactive "blue light special" gains, and for the applicable current and ex-commissioners to give up the retroactive retirement benefits that they had no right to, and never earned or paid for.

Regardless of whether the rumors are true, or not, it seems to me that there is the basis for a class action suit by county employees, now; or a binding legal opinion due, from someone without a dog in the fight. From my perspective, it should be obvious to anyone, with a basic understanding of the issues, that it is the continued intent of sitting Schoolcraft County Commissioners, and other county officials, current and retired, to act as outlaws, and to ignore their continuing public fiduciary responsibilities, knowingly, with no intent of surrendering their booty, or admitting that any of which I have written ever occurred.

Here are a few emailed questions and answers regarding some of the Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. retirement issues considered by those that are not destined to profit, directly, from some decisions already made by certain elected Schoolcraft County commissioners, and other elected officials.
Dear Mr. Erickson:

When a municipality allows an employee(s) to purchase 
service credit, they approve the purchase through the 
adopting of a policy by the governing body.  The application 
of the policy is to be consistent for all employees in that 
MERS employee division.  

A MERS municipality's governing body may modify the policy 
on a going-forward basis.  We caution employers to be aware 
of existing agreements with employees so they don't violate 
those agreements with the new policy.

You indicated that general, nonunion employees at one time 
were in the same MERS division as union employees.  In order 
to determine if the policy was applied consistently for all 
employees in the division, we would need a copy of the 
policy as well as a copy of the collective bargaining 

If you have additional questions, please contact me.

Debra Peake, Manager
Active Division
Client Services Department
MERS of Michigan

-----Original Message-----
From: Lynda Pittman 
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 10:37 AM
To: Debra Peake; Jennifer Willis
Subject: FW: buying time

Hi Ladies,

due to the nature of his request, I will let you respond. 
Please let me know if I may help.


-----Original Message-----
From: Hawk Erickson []
Sent: Sunday, December 19, 2004 8:35 PM
To:; Jennifer Willis;
Lynda Pittman; Debra Peake

Subject: buying time

To Jennifer, Lynda, and Debbra,

I have a question? In 1997 county commissioners
bought several years of time. Some as much as 28 years
and 6 months for as little as $2301.59. After talking
to all of you and reading the MERS handbook, it states
that if somebody is offered a benefit in a division,
then everybody in that division has to be offered the
same benefit. Is this correct? If this is correct,
what do I and the others in this division do next?

I would also like to know how many years of credited
service commissioner Lindsley Frenette has. At a
recent county meeting it was stated that he had 33
years. Hard to believe since Schoolcraft County just
adopted this benefit for county commissioners only a
few years ago.

Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Doug Erickson
Schoolcraft County Commissioner
From: "Molly Cantrall"
To: "'Hawk Erickson'"
Subject: Retroactive retirement benefits
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 15:06:58 -0400
Organization: Michigan Association of Counties

According to Peter Cohl, elected officials cannot receive
retroactive retirement benefits.
Molly Cantrall
Legislative Assistant
Michigan Association of Counties
(517) 372-5374
Fax: (517) 482-4599 

-----Original Message-----
From: Hawk Erickson [] 
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2004 11:56 AM
To: Thomas Hickson; Molly Cantrall
Subject: retirement

To Tom and Molly,
 A question keep up at a meeting the other night. We
know that elected officials can not receive
retro-active pay. The question is can they receive
retro-active retirement benefits? Any help would be
greatly appreciated.

 H A W K
Some other basic requirements that existed at the time that the Schoolcraft County Commissioners voted themselves their generous retroactive retirement benefits:

According to M.E.R.S. Marketing Manager, Lynda Pitmann, at the special County Board meeting of 12/13/04, the part time hours requirement, to be eligible for M.E.R.S. plan benefits was/ is, since 1996, 10 days of 8 hours, per month, to be adopted by County Board resolution. That is 50% of a full 40 hour work week. The only commissioner that I have reasons to believe met that requirement, while not being paid by someone else to take care of county business, was Commissioner Erickson.

The maximum number of generic time years that can be purchased is five. How Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Plan Administrator, Sigrid Doyle, qualified Lindsley Frenette for 33 years of applicable M.E.R.S. qualified county employment credit is an arithmetic mystery to me, that I am not willing to pay for quietly, unless someone can provide me some form of substantiated and legitimate justification. I have no reason to believe that anyone, least of all Commissioner Frenette, can substantiate a claim of 33 years with any degree of reasonable legitimacy. If hearsay does not make a legitimate claim to "work hours", then Frenette, and his ilk, have no legitimate claim to retirement benefits, current or retroactive.

Each year, M.E.R.S. Inc. sends a letter to the county for a copy of the Schoolcraft County Board resolution that defines "part time" employees. That request has been ignored, for years, because Schoolcraft County has no such resolution. It does not take a wizard to figure out who benefits when one considers the financial load of county "part time employees" milking a deliberately undefined policy. Based on my witness of Schoolcraft County Finance and Audit Committee business, the Schoolcraft County Sheriff's Department, and Public Transit Department, have made a business of abusing part time employment hours, overtime, and M.E.R.S. retirement benefit qualifications.

As of 12/31/03, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no resolution provided to M.E.R.S. that defines part time hours for Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. retirement benefit purposes. The consequences of M.E.R.S. Inc.'s ambivalence, encourages the retirement benefit abuse so rife in Schoolcraft County. A text version of the blank 2003 request document is provided below.
STATUS (Approved by Retirement Board on September 30, 2003) 

1.   In accordance with Section 3(1) and 4(6) of the MERS 
Plan Document, the (Governing Body) of (Municipality) does 
hereby certify that (Indicate all employees or division 
names and number) part-time employees working at least 
(Whole number) hours each month shall accrue one (l)-month's 
MERS service credit for each month worked. Full-time 
employees work (Whole number) hours per month.

2.    Upon promotion from part-time to full-time employment, 
all part-time service credit shall be converted to full-time 
service at the ratio that of part-time hours to full-time 
work hours.  For example, where part-time service is defined 
as 80-hours per month, and full-time as 160 hours per month, 
then upon promotion to full-time, all part-time service is 
credited at the ratio of 80/160, or 50% (each 2 years part-
time converted into 1 full-time year).  Under this 
Resolution, all months and years of part-time service shall 
be credited at the full-time equivalent based on the 
employee's actual part-time service hours that are specified 
in Section 1.

3.    Vesting and retirement eligibility shall be based on 
date of original hire without adjustment for conversion.

4.    Upon promotion of an employee occurring after adoption 
of this Resolution, it is understood and agreed that it is 
the responsibility of this participating municipality to 
advise MERS.  Vesting shall be deemed satisfied based on 
date of original hire.

5.    At the time of any promotion to full-time, each part-
time employee that is subject to this Resolution, shall be 
advised by the employer of this Resolution and its effect 
upon the employee's accrued benefits.

6.   This Resolution has MERS-wide application, and it is 
expressly agreed and understood that MERS will not 
administer or recognize any alteration or modification of 
its language or terms.

I hereby certify that the above is a true copy of a 
Resolution adopted al (he meeting of the governing body held 
on, (Date)

(Signature of Authorized Official) (Title)


Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Michigan
1134 Municipal Way
Lansing, MI 48917
Phone: 800-767-2308
Fax: (517)703-9706

Resol-P/T to F/T Srs Credit 09/30/03
The financial burden to tax payers, for the Schoolcraft County defined benefit M.E.R.S. Plan, 100% funded by Schoolcraft County taxpayers, are as varied as those folk that are motivated to abuse the M.E.R.S. retirement qualification process. The existing system is without effective checks and balances. Those responsible for administrating the plan, and oversight of procedures, are, generally speaking, devoid of ethics, because it is to their financial benefit to be amoral, with no fear of being held accountable to the general public that must pay the bills.


I attended the Schoolcraft County Finance - Audit Committee meeting of 01/13/05. All Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners, and the Schoolcraft County Treasurer, were present. During the public comment period, Manistique resident, Doug Erickson, read the following letter:
January 13, 2005

To: Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners

At the December 30, 2004, Audit Finance meeting, Jerry Jack 
asked if he could buy generic time to go toward retirement. 
He was told to take this to the Personnel Committee. I don't 
know if this was done or not, and I really don't care. I 
think we all agree that the county cannot afford to let 
everybody buy generic time at the rate that it was given to 
the commissioners back at the November 11, 1997, meeting.

On July 17, 2001, the County Board passed a resolution, 
"That all those persons electing to purchase generic service 
credit are required to pay the Municipal Employees' 
Retirement System for 100 % of the actuarial cost of such 
service." Here's my question: by that very resolution, then, 
am I to understand that from November 11, 1997, to July 17, 
2001, anybody requesting to buy generic time should have 
fallen under the 3 and 5 percent payback? Am I correct? If 
not - if there was something different in place - why was 
this resolution passed? I believe that anybody requesting 
generic service time (in writing) between the dates of 
November 11,1997, and July 17,2001, should be granted if the 
people requesting time still want to purchase it. I know of 
eight people who requested time. Two of the people don't 
need the time anymore, because they will have enough years 
to max out. One has publicly said he didn't want it. So that 
leaves only five people left.

I think the only fair thing to do is give it to the five 
that requested it before July 17, 2001, if they still want 
it, and, by resolution, anybody else would have to pay 100%.

Doug Erickson
No member of the Board/ Committee chose to address Mr. Erickson's concerns. He was ignored, by all public officials present.


At the Schoolcraft County Audit and Finance Committee meeting, of 02/10/04, Manistique resident Doug Erickson read his "public comments" to the Board. The subject of his concern was the obvious lack of equity between the M.E.R.S. retirement "blue light special" that the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners voted themselves, that they denied to other county employees. There was nothing new added in Mr. Ericksons "comments", all of which has been public knowledge, ignored for many months. The new, of Mr. Erickson's comment time, along with other County Board business, was the presence of Mr. Erickson's cam-corder, recording the Board's business.

After Erickson completed his comments, Commissioner McKinney requested that the M.E.R.S. issues, referred to by Erickson, be included on the next Board business agenda to "...put it behind us."

I can hardly wait. It sounded so easy.


The meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners, 02/17/05, was pretty mundane until the Schoolcraft County Board had to consider the agenda item concerning past county commissioners' M.E.R.S. retirement benefits and the denial of similar benefits to other county employees. The business was far from easy, and raised as many questions as it tried to bury.

Commissioner Dan McKinney chose to read from what he referred to as a legal opinion from attorneys employed by the Michigan Association of Counties, a private organization hired to represent the interests of those paying the bills, and, especially, the interests of public officials that control the purse strings that hire the legal advisors. McKinney "read" to the public, three M.E.R.S. related questions addressed to the attorneys, and the subsequent opinions. I took no notes regarding the questions and answers, because I knew that I could obtain copies of the document and quote the content, as written.

After the public presentation of specific parts of the alleged legal opinion, used to justify subsequent County Board action, a copy of the legal document was denied the public, by Commissioner McKinney, with the silent default approval of the rest of the Board.

My first response, to what Commissioner McKinney appeared to read, was one of scorn.

No question addressed the legitimacy of elected county commissioners voting themselves retroactive retirement benefits to which they had no former entitlement. All the apparent questions, and answers, were based on the implicit premise that the commissioners had a right to vote themselves a right to retroactive compensation to which there was no prior right or expectation, during their prior employment, with, or without Schoolcraft County. Regardless of whether the questions and answers that McKinney "read" were self serving, with the goal of justifying questionable behavior by commissioners, after they voted themselves retroactive compensation; the most important question went unasked, the answer to which was likely, from my perspective, to render moot any subsequent questions.

I use the phrase "apparent" questions and answers because I have no way to verify if what McKinney "read" was correct - or existed. My scorn was doubled when the membership of the entire Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners voted, based upon the alleged private legal opinion document, advising public business; written by private attorneys, and paid for with public money; alleged legal advice that prompted the Board to deny any claim by other Schoolcraft County employees to the same retroactive "blue light" special that the commissioners voted themselves in 1997, and denied, by evasion and subterfuge, the subsequent requests by full time Schoolcraft County employees.

What follows is my convoluted understanding of Commissioner McKinney's presentation, County Clerk Doyle's subsequent comments, the Board's subsequent "discussion", and the unanimously approved motion to deny any and all claims to a similar "blue light" M.E.R.S. retirement special:

From my perspective, I was asked, at last night's Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners meeting, to believe here-say legal opinions, allegedly quoted from alleged written legal opinions, in an allegedly secret document, allegedly written by Michigan Association of Counties private lawyers, hired with public money from the County, by Schoolcraft County Commissioners with a personal vested interest in the public business considered by the private lawyers they hired. All the current commissioners claim, actively, or by silent default approval, that the alleged "secret" document is protected from my scrutiny by alleged "legal" advice that the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioner invoke a claim of attorney-client privilege concerning the document's alleged relevance to the here-say legal opinions that considered the propriety of specific public M.E.R.S. retirement business of elected ex-commissioners Hoholik, Lauzon, Hughson, Sholander, and current commissioners Aldrich and Frenette. Those listed Schoolcraft County commissioners were, or are, Schoolcraft County part time employees, claimed to be full time employees by County Clerk Doyle, with the right to vote themselves, and collect, retroactive M.E.R.S. retirement benefits, to which, for them, no previous entitlement existed, until they voted it into existence at a 95% discounted price denied to full time Schoolcraft County Employees, that really were, or are, full time employees.

Please, don't ask me to repeat it.

To add to the insanity, last night, I witnessed Commissioner Frenette look at the public and deny, again, his request for the 'blue light', 95% discounted, M.E.R.S. retirement premium special for retroactive retirement benefits that he and his cronies voted themselves, prior to their resolution to deny it to all other Schoolcraft County Employees. Whether Commissioner Frenette's false claim was deliberate deceit or confabulation, it is nothing, if not loony.

To me, too often, the twisted ethics and logic of career street criminals make far more sense than the flexible ethics and pretzel logic of white collar predators elected or appointed to office, and, too often, those they choose to represent their personal interests in public business.


After giving the events of 02/17/05 some thought over the weekend, I filed a F.O.I.A. request, today, for the documents on which Schoolcraft County Commissioner McKinney based his public M.E.R.S. presentation of 02/17/05, and upon which information the County Board reasoned the following resolution to deny further 95% discount "blue light special" M.E.R.S. retirement premium discounts to those that wished to purchase generic service time.

Under the Michigan FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT Act 442 of 
1976, sometimes known as F.O.I.A., I, Peter C. Markham 
request copies of certain document(s), apparently read from 
and referred to, during the Schoolcraft County Board of 
Commissioners meeting of 7PM, 02/17/05, by Schoolcraft 
County Commissioner Dan McKinney, as he presented 
information concerning certain prior, and new, public 
M.E.R.S. business to be considered under the County Board 
agenda, item 5, of that date. Commissioner McKinney referred 
to the documents as legal opinions, or advice, from an un-
named legal source, possibly that of Cohl, Stoker, Toskey & 
McGlinchey, P.C., that should be considered confidential by 
the County Board, because of a claimed attorney-client 

The document(s) I seek were used by McKinney to read and 
answer three specific public M.E.R.S. related questions, at 
the public County Board meeting of 02/17/05. In addition, 
the documents I request were referred to, subsequently, at 
that meeting of 02/17/05, to justify a public County Board 
resolution and other public Board reasoning concerning 
public M.E.R.S. business.

Peter Markham
Regarding my request, the Schoolcraft County Clerk has 5 days to respond.

Rumor has it that several other individuals have made similar F.O.I.A. requests. I hope this process does not become a matter of institutionalized policy by those Schoolcraft County officials that wish to make difficult public access to documents used to justify public business. I find it no coincidence that Commissioner McKinney advocates the same cloak of secrecy that his boss, Sam Harma, Director of Hiawatha Behavioral Health, chose to hide documents upon which was based the the employment termination of Schoolcraft County Public Transit driver, Ron Risdon.

Coincidence? I doubt it.


The Schoolcraft County Audit and Finance Committee met last night, and were briefed by a representative of the county's auditors. There were two particular subjects of the past fiscal year 2005 audit briefing of interest to me, that may have been heard, and understood, by the Schoolcraft County Commissioners, Clerk, and Treasurer.

It was pointed out that the County's fund balance was in a steady spiral to a zero fund balance, as in, to paraphrase, "the county will be broke, in the forceable future", if business remains "as usual".

The auditor stated that there was some $4,084,805 unfunded M.E.R.S. retirement debt, as of the last accounting period, and the yearly payments had increased from $613,437 in fiscal year 2004, to $618,136 for fiscal year 2005. He stated that other counties had similar problems, but he did not address the particular MERS retirement problems created and maintained, in relative silence, by the Schoolcraft County Commissioners, Clerk and Treasurer, as documented on this page, and elsewhwere at this web site.

It is known, to all Schoolcraft County commissioners, that a significant unfunded MERS retirement debt is due to mushroom, as a significant portion of the aging Schoolcraft County employees reach retirement age. Retirees will collect their underfunded, retroactive defined retirement benefits, and underfunded B4 "window" separation perk, i.a.w. the AFSCME union contract, and the current non-union employee contracts. Some past and present commissioners pacified the AFSCME union members with those unfunded retirement benefits, because the costs would be deferred, so those few ccommissioners could collect unearned, unfunded and unjustified, retroactive retirement benefits, with the union employees purchased silence.

No one expressed any surprise, or questioned the auditor's 05/26/06 "Wake Up!" call.

Once again, to contradict Schoolcrafty County Clerk Doyle's continuous mantra of self serving obfuscation, this year's M.E.R.S. retirement fund payments have little relationship to next years payments, beyond a M.E.R.S. updated yearly, 30 year amortization payment schedule, based on the prior year's number of total retirees, their benefits due, and the return from Schoolcraft County's underfunded M.E.R.S. pension fund investment returns. The auditor's briefing of 05/26/06 made that perfectly clear, to those that listened, understood, and cared.

The difference between payments in fiscal year 2004 and fiscal year 2005, paid, directly from county tax revenues, was $4,699, and, no one retired during that period. Without anyone to provide the particulars for the increase, I guess that it was to make up for a lower than planned return from the Schoolcraft County funded M.E.R.S. investments that, if paid up, and maintained at a particular level, would fund all future retirement, IF the stock market continued to rise, forever, at a known rate.

In the real world of Schoolcraft County, 2006, the stock market does not increase at a known constant rate, forever. In a world economy, to which Schoolcraft County is attached, industry moves investment capital offshore, where there is enough return, by exploiting cheap foreign resources, with few tax burdens, and no "defined benefits" baggage, to pay share holders enough (including insurance and M.E.R.S. pension funds) to keep all the stock market investors, including M.E.R.S., happy. As the county employee "guaranteed" retirement debt load increases, tax based revenues decrease, state revenue sharing decreases, the general costs of county business increases, the county tax base does not increase fast enough to make up for increased expenses, while the County Commissioners scream poverty and try to maintain the status quo with the active or default acceptance of key county administrative personnel, as the commissioners continue to avoid making politically unfavorable decisions, and continue to plunder the underfunded Schoolcraft County general fund balance.

I have no desire to guarantee anyone's retirement benefits, or job, against the vaguaries of the real world, against which I have no guarantees, beyond my personal ability to deal with them. As I have made clear to all that consider me a means to their ends, read my lips; if I have any civilized choice, "No way!". While local politicians continue to cater to a select few, at everyone elses' expense, the only choice I have is to take an active position against any and all attempts to increase taxes to grease the future for those with a vested interest in what my tax dollars buy for them, and their "friends", but not for me.

For every tax dollar spent for county retirees, a dollar is unavailable to provide value to those that pay those dollars. For every tax dollar spent, to guarantee the "defined benefit" income of county retirees, a dollar is unavailable to the taxpayers with no such guaranteed income, working or retired. For every tax dollar spent, to guarantee the "defined benefit" retirement income of county retirees, a dollar is unavailable to secure the employment of current, or future, Schoolcraft County employees. For every tax dollar spent, to guarantee the "defined benefits" retirement income of county retireees, a dollar is unavailable to those productive members of the community, that help create their own "undefined" income, and the "defined" income of others.

A "Ponzi Scheme" mentality led to the consequential problems with the federal Social Security system, and other "defined benefit" plans of a variety of major corporations and government agencies. As long as "pyramid schemes" have been peddled by hucksters, those at the top have fed well, and assured those at the bottom, "Trust me. All is well!".

The majority of Schoolcraft County Commissioners that ignore or deny the problem, whether they benefit personnally, or not, are abusing the confidence of the general electorate, in all Schoolcraft County districts. Their actions, or lack thereof, make them little more than grafters and confidence tricksters, as they squander tax revenue to insure the future of a few at a cost to everyone else.

There are no guarantees, in the real world, against the consequences of change. The choice of elected Schoolcraft County officials to guarantee the income of tax paid union, and non-union county employees, at the expense of all county taxpayers, is little more than the extortion of all county taxpayers for the benefit of a select few. For the County Commissioners, and Schoolcraft County employees in general, to perpetuate a fatally flawed economic concept of "defined benefits", for local government employees, is little more than legitimized theft.

There is nothing in this world guaranteed, short of death and taxes. To guarantee one person's income, at the expense of another, is to guarantee the right of a particular group of human predators to prey on their victims.

It is not accidental that "everyone" wants a "government job", and those that control such jobs have significant political clout.

(The following confused 3 paragraphs will be completed next year, after I determine the cost of this year's fiscal year's retirees, when they are added to the current M.E.R.S. bill, and reflected in next year's M.E.R.S. bill.)

Given the auditor's numbers for the required increase in annual retirement benefit payments, for the most recent audited 2005 year, then one might consider that annual increase was brought about by the retirement of ???? county employees, in 2004. All things being equal, if 0? retiring county union employees added $4,699 of unfunded retirement benefits expenses to the county's annual 2005 budget, then one might consider that, by 2016, another ???? county employees will retire, adding $????? of contracted unavoidable, "defined benefit" annual expenses to the Schoolcraft County annual 2017 budget.

Given the inability of the current Schoolcraft County Commissioners to balance the current budget, without dipping into a steadily decreasing fund balance, in light of {declining? increasing revenues (percentage?}}, how will the commissioners of 2017 run Schoolcraft County with a guestimated income of $???? out of which an additional guestimated $???? of unfunded contracted retirement benefit payments must be met?

If the County is spiraling into debt, currently, with approximately $$$$ to run the county, how will the county be run, in 2017, with guesstimated gross revenues of ????, after $$$$ of additional contracted county employee "defined benefit" fund payments have been subtracted, leaving $???? for other county expenses that cannot be met, today, with the current $???? gross revenues?

The only sitting County Commissioner that I have heard grant the faintest recognition to the the consequences of Schoolcraft County funded defined benefits retirement plans, is Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Dan McKinney. At a recent Audit and Finance Committee meeting, he actually suggested that Schoolcraft County change its "defined benefit" retirement plan, for non-union employees, because, if it wasn't changed, future commissioners would reap the ugly consequences.

To me, that slight admission is worthy of a "gold star" for a preliminary effort to change Schoolcraft County's defined benefits status quo. To me, that expression of awareness was little more that a timid suggestion for change, the timely absence of which helps to motivate major corporate bankruptcies, layoffs and offshore migration.

Maybe Schoolcraft County can, like private enterprise, find the provision of sufficient services and material, offshore, at Third World costs, the savings from which will pay for the mounting costs of defined benefits plans.

Maybe the Schoolcraft County Commissioners can afford to ignore the warning of its auditors and the obvious messages from national and international current events.

I have few civilized options, to motivate some responsible change in Schoolcraft County Commissioners' irresponsible and predatory fiduciary behaviour, beyond my incessant negative "bitching".

My primary option is to vote against every effort to raise any new county taxes, regardless of how those new taxes are justified. Schoolcraft County commissioners have chosen to behave as confidence tricksters, to guarantee others' income and benefits, with the implicit threat of a tax lien against my unguaranteed income and no benefits, backed up by the potential confiscation of what little property I own. Consequently, I consider them less than their equivalent of the common street thug that, at least, has the honesty to stick a gun in my face without telling me it is for my benefit, or that of my neighbors, and their progeny.


I attended the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners Audit and Finance meeting of 08/11/06, to address one of my continued concerns about Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. pension issues.

Prior to the public comment period, at the end of the meeting, it was interesting to note the general "The county ain't got no money!" nature of business. In that atmosphere of poverty, the Board paid additional costs for the unneeded paving of the entrance to "Pines Park" while the airport terminal roof continues to leak, as it has for years.

It was also interesting to note the general lack of apparent concern about the failed aviation gas pump at the Schoolcraft County Airport, a failure addressed by sending aircraft elsewhere for gas, because the existing pump, installed a few years ago, could not be repaired because of the alleged "unavailability of parts"!

At the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners Audit and Finance meeting of 08/11/06, I started public comment time, by asking the attending Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Administrator, a.k.a. Schoolcraft County Clerk, Sigrid Doyle, and Commissioner Lindsley Frenette, whether Frenette qualified to retire with M.E.R.S. benefits at the end of his current term. Doyle said he did, and Frenette said he would take what he was due.

I then read the following:

"It is rumored that Commissioner Jack Hughson died September 23, 1998.

It is rumored that Commissioner Lindsley Frenette's last date of hire, as a part 
time Schoolcraft County employee, was October 7, 1998, when he was appointed to 
replace Commissioner Hughson.

It is rumored that December 31, 2006, is Commissioner Frenette's last day of 
his current term.

It has been rumored that Commissioner Frenette will not run for re-election.

It is rumored that certain "private" M.E.R.S. related business, paid for with 
public funds, has been circulating within the Schoolcraft County Clerk's office.

It is rumored that part time employee, Commissioner Frenette, intends to retire, 
sucking on the county taxpayers' teats.

It was a fact, a few years ago, that the county never defined part time versus 
full time county employment, as requested and required by M.E.R.S., for years.

It is fact that Commissioner Frenette was not included in the M.E.R.S. until 
his appointment on the rumored date of October 7, 1998.

It is established M.E.R.S. policy that after July 1, 1997, purchased time cannot 
be used to meet the M.E.R.S. vesting requirement. 

If I total the legitimate M.E.R.S. qualified time of Frenette's part time 
municipal employment, that I know of, since he was rumored to qualify for 
M.E.R.S. benefits on October 7, 1998, based upon the corrupt premise that 
Commissioner Frenette's undefined part time employment was equivalent to full 
time employment, Mr. Frenette does not have enough qualifying time to meet the 
10 years employment requirement to vest in the M.E.R.S. In fact, come December 
31, 2006, he will be some 22 months short.

As it is rumored that certain Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. business is not 
public business, I address the board for clarification regarding what appears, 
to me, as it was the last time I addressed the Board about M.E.R.S. retirement 
arithmetic, to be a confidence game that no one wishes to address.

Will Commissioner Frenette retire as a part time Schoolcraft County employee and 
collect M.E.R.S. benefits?

If so, who do I see for the details of his M.E.R.S. retirement qualifications?"

Commissioner Frenette repeated his assertion that he was interested in only that which he was due.

No one addressed my question regarding the specific public municipal employment details used by Schoolcraft County M.E.R.S. Administrator, Doyle, to substantiate her claim that Commissioner Frenette qualified for M.E.R.S. retirement benefits, to be paid for with future Schoolcraft County tax revenues.

After the Board meeting was adjourned, some short and heated conversations took place in the court house lobby.

Commissioner Dan McKinney offered his opinion that I, among others, was pretty sharp, and did my homework, and it was a shame that I wasted so much life opposing, rather than being engaged in supportive and constructive efforts as an elected public official.

I replied that I had no interest in being part of any organization that "conned" the general taxpaying public.

McKinney also said that I did not give Doyle the opportunity to elaborate that commissioners' part time employment qualifies as full time employment towards M.E.R.S. pension benefits. I told him that I had addressed that issue, in my public comments, and whether a part-time-county-employee-Schoolcraft-County-Commissioner was worth more than any other county part time employee, or not, based on my current knowledge, Frenette was, at least, 22 months short of qualifying for M.E.R.S. retirement benefits.

During the lobby buzz, Commissioner Frenette commented, with a smile on his face, that if his county part time employment did not qualify him for M.E.R.S. retirement benefits, the addition of his past school bus driving employment would. I shook my head in bewilderment, wondering whether his statement was more typical Commissioner Frenette deceit, or an attempt at "chain yanking" humor, or, more ominous to me, represented a previously unknown (to me) option to grease the discounted retirement wheels for a Schoolcraft County Commissioner that found a legitimate way to apply his "school retirement" years to a Municipal Employees Retirement System plan.

Shortly thereafter, Frenette and I exited the lobby, while others continued related discussions.

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