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Posted on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

Washtenaw County Democratic Party calls on commissioners to repay county, says Mark Ouimet's expenses 'dwarf all others'

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Washtenaw County Democratic Party issued a statement today, urging county officials to enforce county board rules and financial procedures and require any commissioners who improperly collected payments over the last five years to repay the county.

Party leaders said a report released Wednesday by County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum confirms that Commissioner Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, improperly collected thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds from the county for attending meetings ineligible for payment.


County Commissioner Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, listens during Wednesday's county board meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

While it appears other commissioners also received per diem and mileage payments they shouldn't have, the party stated, "Ouimet’s totals dwarf all others."

More than $16,600 — or about 51 percent — of Ouimet’s total payments of $32,805 from 2005 to 2009 were deemed either ineligible or questionable by the county clerk.

More than $4,800 — or about 43 percent — of Republican Commissioner Jessica Ping's total payments of $11,389 from 2007 to 2009 were deemed ineligible or questionable.

"By contrast, the average 'overpayment' to the eight Democratic commissioners was 7 percent," the Democratic Party stated. "Ouimet claims the payment rules are unclear, but all of the other commissioners were able to understand them well enough to get things just about right. Only former banker Ouimet seems to have a problem with following the rules."

Ouimet, who is running for the 52nd District state House seat, has called for an independent analysis of the expenses of all 11 county commissioners. He says he'll repay the county if such an investigation finds he improperly collected any money, and he hopes others do the same.

“Despite recent allegations, I followed the county policies for reimbursements," he said in a statement this week. "Following the procedures the board has had in place, I’ve done everything by the book and each in-district reimbursement was approved by the clerk. Three weeks prior to the election, the Democrat clerk has since changed his mind. The partisan politics must stop."

New television, radio and Internet ads have aired, shining a spotlight on Ouimet's spending. A 60-second ad launched today by Lansing-based citizens group Progress Michigan says: “Haven’t we had enough of politicians looking out for themselves and abusing taxpayer dollars? $35,000 the taxpayers paid for Mark Ouimet’s per diems and mileage. That’s 35,000 good reasons to call Mark Ouimet and tell him to give our money back.” The announcer on the ad then asks listeners to call Ouimet, leaving his phone number.

The Washtenaw County Republican Committee defended Ouimet earlier this week, calling the attacks on his expense record "politics at its worst."

Under county board rules, commissioners can collect $25 payments known as "per diems" and claim mileage reimbursements for their attendance at committee meetings and working sessions of the board, and some other meetings and conferences when the commissioner has been properly authorized to attend by the board or board chair.

Kestenbaum's report shows many commissioners — not just Ouimet — billed the county for their attendance at meetings that fall outside the rules. Here's an analysis by of what the report, which looked at expenses from 2005-09, revealed:

1. Mark Ouimet
Total per diems/mileage: $32,805
Amount ineligible/questionable: $16,619 (51%)

2. Jessica Ping*
Total per diems/mileage: $11,389
Amount ineligible/questionable: $4,861 (43%)
*Joined the board in 2007

3. Ken Schwartz*
Total per diems/mileage: $8,950
Amount ineligible/questionable: $1,563 (17%)
*Joined the board in 2007

4. Barbara Levin Bergman
Total per diems/mileage: $12,713
Amount ineligible/questionable: $1,593 (13%)

5. Wesley Prater*
Total per diems/mileage: $14,839
Amount ineligible/questionable: $1,280 (9%)
*Was not in office 2007-08

6. Kristin Judge*
Total per diems/mileage: $1,040
Amount ineligible/questionable: $56 (5%)
*Joined the board in 2009

7. Conan Smith
Total per diems/mileage: $6,318
Amount ineligible/questionable: $341 (5%)

8. Leah Gunn
Total per diems/mileage: $4,100
Amount ineligible/questionable: $175 (4%)

9. Rolland Sizemore
Total per diems/mileage: $10,268
Amount ineligible/questionable: $314 (3%)

10. Jeff Irwin
Total per diems/mileage: $6,850
Amount ineligible/questionable: $75 (1%)

11. Ronnie Peterson
Total per diems/mileage: $0
Amount ineligible/questionable: $0 (0%)

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:27 p.m.

November 3rd will be the next Board meeting. The day after the election. The nitrogenous waste is expected to intersect with the rotating airfoils at that time. It'll be likely better than the October 20th brouhaha. Stay tuned!


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

I am pleased to announce that Commissioner Barbara Levin Bergman announced on Ann Arbor Chronicle over the weekend that she will repay all questionable per diem and mileage reimbursements. She has also announced an about-face and will support Leah Gunn's proposed resolution eliminating per diem and mileage payments. Over the weekend, Commissioner Kristin Judge on stated she would reimburse the county for per diem/mileage payments hat were flagged by the County Clerk as inapprpriate or questionable. These developments are encouraging.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

I applaud the conduct of Commissioner Leah Gunn, as described above and hope all other Commissioners follow her lead. I also applaud her resubmission a resolution barring per diems in the future. This per diem/mileage scandal has placed the entire County Commission under a cloud of suspicion. It would be in everyone's best interests if the each County Commissioner wrote a check back to the County for the amounts Larry has declared questionable or inappropriate and approve Mrs. Gunn's fine proposed resolution. Citizen activists and groups, including the political action committee People Against Corruption, will continue to examine this matter and "roar like a wounded lion" until the County Commssion takes appropriate remedial measures. The County Commission should put this issue to bed post haste.

Tom Wieder

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

cook1888- A lawyer doesn't have to be altruistic to be honorable and ethical. It's a profession; people enter it to earn a living, like any other profession. But just because an attorney is "in it for the money" (that's called earning a living), doesn't mean the attorney doesn't act properly. So Christine Green represented someone who had a legal claim agaisnt U-M? So what? Do you think that U-M never violates anyone's rights or that is is above the law? Of course, if an attorney collects a judgment from a public body, taxpayer funds will pay that judgment (directly or through liability insurance paid for with public funds). Remember, of course, that the attorney isn't actually getting any money from the public body; he or she receives a percentage of what the client receives. If you sell a product or service to a governmental body, you receive taxpayer dollars. What we're tslking about with Ouimet and the other commissioners is taking public dollars they're not entitled to. And that's a very important distinction.


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 8:21 p.m.

As a prelude, I must admit that I know Mr. Ouimet on an extremely limited basis, Ms. Ping much better, and at the present am a political novice, voting on candidates that support specific issues I am significantly involved with rather than party affiliation (leading me to lean towards voting for Mayor Bernero, Atty. Leyton and Justice Davis in the upcomming election). I also am involved in marketing and public relations part time for which my company has provided me with a credit card. I completed a form prior to receipt of that card that states that any submitted expense determined not to be appropriate will be reimbursed by myself. Mileage also is reviewed as submitted prior to reimbursement. My instructions were to submit any questionable expense and if any concerns they would be discussed prior to authorization. From this news article (and past ones) I have a few concerns: 1. All commissioners per diems are still referred to as "ineligible/questionable. To me this indicates that for all commissioners there may be no inappropriate activity, only questionable, which in and of itself does not say much for the entire board in their attempt to properly define and determine what should be eligible for reimbursement. 2. There was, and seems to still be, a significant lack of oversight, and/or understanding, in the review, authorization and reimbursement of submitted expenses by whomever is responsible. 3. It makes no difference what the reimbursement amount was. If there was an ineligible reimbursement, that commissioner is as "guilty" as any other as their actions are the same. 4. If we are going to pillory an individual for "questionable" but eligible reimbursements, I would be much more concerned with the excessive travel budget reimbursements for trips outside of the county (interesting to note those being to Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, etc., and family also attending at our expense as was previously indicated). 5. A commissioner's request for the ability to access other commissioners travel budgets for their use without public knowledge, which thankfully did not occur. This request alone is one that, if true, would lead me to question at minimum the integrity of that commissioner. While I am uncertain whom I will vote for (Ouimet or Green), I feel that this has been nothing more than a political hatchet job on Mr. Ouimet (and question the tone/slant of the reporting surrounding this issue), and continue to believe he is a person of honesty and integrity.

David Briegel

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 8:06 p.m.

cook1888, It is those noble, saintly corporate attorneys that write all the laws making it LEGAL for the banksters to rob, pillage, steal and plunder every dime left in our soon to be third world economy. But they are both Republicans and they even rent those Blue Dog Dems to tie the bow around their package! Nice, neat and tidy FRAUD! And the Tea Party will continue to vote for them and against their own interests while pretending to understand our constitution!


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

I apologize to any altruistic lawyer for my previous comment. I meant my comment in reference to Ms. Green suing UM. It is money out of the taxpayer's pocket in to hers. I believe both candidates have benefited from taxpayer dollars. You are right Mr. Wieder. I could just as easily condemn the banking profession. Ok I will. I think bankers and lawyers have caused as much damage to this country as any profession.

David Briegel

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.

One of the benefits of an honor system is you find out just how honorable some people really are! Reminds me of the time my friend John went to Harvard on a fellowship which resulted as a result of an attempt by the legal profession to cleanse itself from the stain of Watergate. You remember all those noble Republican public servants? And the peoples lawyers are all evil and those saintly corporate attorneys.... Well, you get the picture. Roadman, there have been enough questionable practices by all sides yet you only cite one side. Seriously? DonBee, You can still trust Larry. The truth will set both of you free! Roadman, why would you assume this release and the election of Chris Green would not be in the public good. Question yourself. Why did you not bring up this scandal as well as all the other dormant scandals. Do YOU not have the public interest at heart? cook1888, You just said you were going to vote for someone who abused a "conflict of interest". Yet you reject Green because she's an attorney. Read Tom Weider! trespass, A leader would have addressed these issues in August to avoid just this sort of spectacle. That is what leaders do! Just look at how Leah Gunn has responded.


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

Larry Kestenbaum - I still have the registration log from one of the first weekend events you attended here. You had dinner with us a couple of weeks later. I will leave it at that. Country Kate was at the event too.

Tom Wieder

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 11:05 a.m.

@cook1888: "Then we have the Green attorney. I guess the profession speaks for itself, unless you need one." Full disclosure: I'm a "recovering" attorney (mostly retired) and a Green supporter. But really, everyone in the legal profession is the same - and bad - in your estimation, so that you would exclude voting for someone on that basis? That's mindless nonsense. Sure, our profession has a lot of people who behave badly, maybe more than most professions, but judging a particular individual by the profession they belong to is almost as offensive as judging that person by their gender or race. I say "almost," because being a lawyer is a choice, but it's still prejudice to judge someone by membership in a group as large and diverse as lawyers. You said you were going to vote form Ouimet - a former banker and landlord. Talk about groups with unsavory reputations! But you've turned away from him based on his individual characteristics and behavior. You should evaluate Christine Green the same way.

Marcia Feingold

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

I hope that the County Clerk will follow up on the "ineligible/questionable" expenses to determine which are indeed ineligible and which are due to misunderstanding of the rules -- either by the Commissioners OR the Clerk's office. And then I'd like to see a final report that clarifies the situation.


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

What a choice. I am starting to think I will skip this one. I was going to vote for Ouimet and still might, but was going to based on a hope for fiscal responsibility. He did vote for a tax increase that benefited SPARK on which he is a board member and now this. I don't care how you spin it he collected far more than other board members and a lot of it sure looks questionable. Then we have the Green attorney. I guess the profession speaks for itself, unless you need one. So which candidate has milked taxpayers for the most loot - the attorney or the landlord. Terribly discouraging.


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 9:10 a.m.

@ scooter dog "I'll bet if mark was not running for state rep,this would not have been brought up." Are you saying you don't want to know that your tax dollars are being misused? In my mind elections are just for this purpose: To review the qualifications and character of a person to determine if that said person is someone a voter would feel comfortable having represent them. Citizens usually have their own busy lives to focus on, but on a regular basis we are asked to raise our nose off the grindstone and pay attention for a moment. Candidates for office should remember their behavior is going to be analyzed and reviewed and a vote is a response to the results of said review.

Leah Gunn

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

I have examined my per diem payments for the years 2005-10. I stopped taking per diems in January of 2008, and have never applied for any mileage payments since I was first elected. As to the "Questionable" items, the Washtenaw Metro Alliance was founded by a partnership among representatives of the City of Ann Arbor, the City of Ypsilantri, the County and various nearby Townships. From the beginning, I served as Co-Chair, along with Mayor John Hieftje, while I was Chair of the Board. Other Chairs of the Board, Wes Prater and Jeff Irwin, followed me as Co-Chairs, and I remained a member. We met in a county building, and had county staff to assist us. I believed at the time that this was indeed a legitimate committee for requesting per diems. The Literacy Coalition of Washtenaw County was formed in 2007, by resolution of the Board of Commissioners, and I was asked by Commissioner Ronnie Peterson to serve on the committee. It was Co-Chaired by then County Administrator Bob Guenzel and Josie Parker, Director of the Ann Arbor District Library. The committee worked many hours to create the Blueprint to End Illiteracy. The coalition has now become its own organization, with its own funding and offices at 1100 N. Main (the NEW Center). As for the Food System Economic Partnership, I was invited to attend an all day seminar to organize it. Support came from MSU Extension and the University of Michigan School of Business Administration. It is now also an organization, like Literacy Coalition, which has become independent. It has its own various sources of funding, with successful programs for marketing local farmers' crops to retail outlets and various insitutions. Since there appears to to be some question as to whether or not these three organizations were "official" County Board committees, I am mailing today a check to the Washtenaw County Clerk in the amount of $175.00. I do not wish to have my good intentions and my integrity brought into question on a minor matter such as this. It is my intention to resubmit my resolution from 2009 that Commissioners shall no longer receive per diems, travel money or mileage. This will be part of a package that being organized by the Chair of the Board. It will eliminate the Money Purchase Pension Plan and will reorganize and possibly eliminate various boards and commissions of the County. I continue to believe quite strongly that Commissioners should only receive our salary of $15,000 per year.


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

Mark Ouimet has known about the FOIA request for his expense account since I met with him in early August. Why has it taken so long to volunteer to have an audit or repay?


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 5:41 a.m.

Pay up Mark. Put the story to bed!!! Go Kestenbaum. You tell em.

Tom Wieder

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 11:32 p.m.

Roadman- You have me at a disadvantage, because, unlike me, you don't use your real name, so I don't know who you are, tho I get a clear sense of your politics. A few comments on your last post: "The Democatic Party machine locally has been known to engage in questionable financial practices. Everyone knows it was you who screamed the loudest when Leigh Greden took some questionable actions with respect to campaign funding. You still mention Greden to this day but he paid all the money back." What does any of this have to do with this issue? "The timing of these disclosures stinks!" In what sense does it stink? Because it's really bad for Ouimet? Because it's suspicious? You correctly identify the reason for bringing it up now, but you don't say why bringing up a politician's questionable actions at election time is, in any sense, unfair, or that it makes the allegations factually wrong. "And while I am "pleased as Punch" this matter has been brought to light, it was only revealed to assist Green to get elected, not for the public good. The by-product of these revelations will bring about better county governance." Roadman, you're proving my point. Winning an election provides an incentive to examine and expose the misbehavior of politicians. If Ouimet wasn't seeking a higher office, and issues like this weren't rasied to try to beat him, this might have gone on far longer. The motivation to expose improper behavior is irrelevant, if the exposure serves the public good. "Innocent and honest public servants, like the County Clerk, have taken some undeserved shots at their evenhandedness in addresing this matter, although most have been supportive." Only because Republicans are so determined to protect Ouimet, who doesn't deserve it, that they'll unjustifiably attack Kestenbaum.

Larry Kestenbaum

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 9:29 p.m.

(1) The report I submitted is not a black box, rather, it is a spreadsheet. All of the per diems and in-county mileage submitted by the current commissioners in 2005-09 are listed, by date, line by line. This is all public information. Nothing is hidden. I invite y'all to examine the report in detail, go over all the listed meetings, compare them to the Board rules, and determine for yourself which ones were eligible, or not. We would be happy to provide a list of the commissioners who were appointed to commissions and committees during the years at issue. If you think we might have omitted some commissioner's per diems or mileage, you are welcome to examine the County's financial records. Beyond just the Freedom of Information Act, the Michigan Constitution guarantees your access to that information. So far, a couple of errors have been pointed out to us by commissioners. These corrections change the overall numbers very little. I would be eager to hear an alternative interpretation of this data, and so would the commissioners, the media, and the public. However, since January, when my office was delegated the power to review and approve or reject these payments, no one has come to me with any complaint or objection about our interpretation of the rules. (2) I am very flattered to read comments from people who say they have known me for decades. However, I think some of y'all might be a little confused. I moved to Washtenaw County from Ithaca, New York in the summer of 1990. Due to job responsibilities and long-distance commuting, I didn't really get to know many Ann Arbor folks until we moved into the city proper in 1992. There are only a very small number of people, locally, who knew me during my Cornell years, or earlier.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 9:23 p.m.

@ Scooter, Roadman (and all those who complain about the report)- I fail to understand whether the timing of this article is relevant. Shouldn't a person who overcharged taxpayers be held accountable, no matter what their party affiliation? Unless you're implying that certain political parties should be exempt...


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 8:44 p.m.

Tom: The Democatic Party machine locally has been known to engage in questionable financial practices. Everyone knows it was you who screamed the loudest when Leigh Greden took some questionable actions with respect to campaign funding. You still mention Greden to this day but he paid all the money back. The timing of these disclosures stinks! Why not drag Jessica Ping's name through the mud? Because she's not running for office this cycle, of course. You are targeting Ouimet only because you want Green to win. This per diem "scandal" was known to be ongoing for years for just about everyone who worked at the county building and it was only until some Democratic Party insiders wanted to use it to harm Ouimet was it raised. There are a lot of "dormant" scandals that are ongoing at the county building that will only surface, if at all, if one of the participants runs for public office. Like two circuit judges who registered their county building offices as their respective campaign committee headquarters. Like some questionable campaign contributions. I support transparency and accountability in government, Tom. And while I am "pleased as Punch" this matter has been brought to light, it was only revealed to assist Green to get elected, not for the public good. The by-product of these revelations will bring about better county governance. But there has been collateral damage to some Democratic officeholders as well as the County Commission as a whole. Innocent and honest public servants, like the County Clerk, have taken some undeserved shots at their evenhandedness in addresing this matter, although most have been supportive. This "scandal" has tried the goodwill between the members on the County Commission. Christine Green likely has been the biggest beneficiary of what has occurred, Tom. But I am sure that was the goal of the county party, Tom. Good night and good luck.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

@Tom Wieder - Issues with reimbursement have been floating since spring. Nothing was done about it all summer. Now, close to the election - the issue has been top of the page every day for several days. I note that Mr. Stanton seems to have either been mis-informed on the early stories or made mistakes. Few of them have been corrected. This story does not help Washtenaw County at a time when several companies are looking at the area to see if they want to settle here. The nature of the drum beating by the Democratic Party and Mr. Stanton's "Oh, its news, let me write another article" with no real new information and no real correction of facts has me wondering. Country Kate - I too have known Larry for more than 20 years, I have had him in my home more than once. I used to trust him, but several issues recently have caused me to wonder if I still should.

David Briegel

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

Can you imagine that the so called "fiscal conservatives" are attacking the Dems instead of being pleased that there will finally be accountability. They are upset at Dems instead of the obvious abuse of the Honor System. With every whine they lose credibility! xmo, obviously you missed the discussion. It was an honor system! I have heard no discussion of criminal charges. Republicans always outspend Dems. Bridge to where? DonBee, I have always respected your opinion. You are wrong here. Don't kill the messenger. Put on your public trust and fiscal conservative hats and rethink your position! Tom Wieder, excellent post!

Tom Wieder

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 8:03 p.m.

A few points... 1. There is now, as of 2010, a system in place to review expense submissions. It was put in place, at the initiation of Commissioners Judge and Prater, to a large extent, in response to Ouimet's excesses. The County Clerk was given the responsibility to do the review, by the Commissioners. 2. Before 2010, there was no system of review. There is no one the Commissioners "report to." Before this year, whatever they submitted got paid. 3. Look at the numbers. 51% of Ouimet's claims in the last five years were either ineligible for payment or uncertain. The average for the 8 Democrats who submitted claims was 7.3%. Only 2 of the Dems got out of single digits. These numbers are small enough that they could be errors, misunderstandngs or some confusion. But 51%?! 4. Nobody has shown a scintilla of evidence that the Clerk did anything but a fair and unbiased review. In the absence of any evidence, it is unfair to suggest otherwise. Just 10 days ago, Ouimet said that the Clerk should review his expenses, and he'd pay back any he shouldn't have received. Now, he has flip-flopped and questions the Clerk's fairness, because he doesn't like the result. 5. Those of you who keep whining about the timing of these disclosures: Your complaint is that a candidate got caught doing something wrong, and it's going to hurt him politically. That's the way it's supposed to work! Of course, political opponents scrutinize these things close to elections and bring them up at inopportune times for the wrongdoer. That's one key way that elections serve as a check on bad behavior by politicians. The system is working just fine here. You just don't like your guy getting caught.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

County Kate: I think the charcterizations of Stu Dowty are a bunch of baloney. Now we have baloney and Swiss cheese. What a combination! This scandal is making me hungrier all the time.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

I agree Scooter Dog. It was Stu Dowty and the Washtenaw County Democratic Party that commenced the investigation that ultimately led to this isue being splashed all over the media. And it has not helped a number of Democrats on the County Commission such as Bergman, who took substantial sums of per diems and mileage that are likewise being called into question. It also has cast the entire County Commission into question by not having a proper system of checks and balances from the get-go. Jessica Ping would have likely gotten equal billing with Ouimet by Stu Dowty except for the fact she is not running for re-election. It has also unfairly placed Democrat Larry Kestenbaum in a position where virtually anything he says critical of Ouimet's conduct will be labeled as a partisan attack by Republican supporters of Ouimet.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 7:39 p.m.

Regarding Mr. Stanton: It is a reporter's responsibility to report on irregularities involving government officials on all levels. That's why they are called "the watchdogs of democracy." Mr. Stanton was doing his job. Some of the facts I have retrieved from these stories is that, indeed, the system seems to have enough holes to be Swiss cheese. Apparently, at least a couple of commissioners figured out how to work that system. And, of course, since they are Republicans, the Washtenaw Democratic Party is all over this. But, I have personally known Larry Kestenbaum for over 25 years and he is honest and fair. He would not tweak his analysis.

scooter dog

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 6:32 p.m.

I'll bet if mark was not running for state rep,this would not have been brought up. Rather odd its a big deal so close to election day.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 6:20 p.m.

I have to wonder what is in this for Mr. Stanton - 4 stories in a week on this topic all heavily slanted against Mr. Ouimet. I have to wonder if Mr. Stanton realizes how biased his stories seem. How few of the facts were in the original story and how little he has done to correct things. I have to wonder if AnnArbor.Com is really trying to report the facts or if they are trying to help a candidate here. I just have to wonder. I suggest you do too.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

Mark Ouimet and some of the other commissioners engaged in some creative theories to bring claims I am sure; but the very fact that there was no system of checks and balances in place to prevent improper per diem or mileage reimbursements from being weeded out I believe was a greater failure attributable to the Board of Commissioners as a whole. The apparent abuses that occurred were fostered by a failure of oversight. I personally know a number of the players in this affair and can state they are hardworking and intelligent representatives who genuinely care about their constituents. However, they all deserve blame. Every commissoner. In the future a reputable accounting firm should be retained to audit all these claims on a regular basis. Smacks of the House Bank scandal in Congress awhile back. The discussions of criminal charges are ill-founded. A prosecutor would have to show that Ouimet or any other commissioner knew that the per diem or mileage request was not warranted when the voucher was submitted for reimbursement. The commissioner could argue that he was not aware of the limits of what constituted a proper reimbursable claim and submitted the claim in good faith. He or she could also argue that the fact that these were reimbursed on a regular basis without question for years constituted an admission by the county that the claimed per diems and mileage were proper. At worst, Mark Ouimet, Ping, and Bergman may have taken advantage of a lax reimbursement system to submit questionable vouchers that they knew were unlikely to be rejected. Their price to pay is egg on their respective faces and an angry electorate to face. I do not see any cogent case for criminal charges, however. If Mark loses votes this November due to this issue, he will have paid a substantial penalty. I am glad this matter was raised as it caused a problem in the operation of the County Commission to receive deserved scrutiny and needed corrective action has been and will be taken.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

Who approved the payments? They should be fired! If the commissioner lied then we could charge them with a crime but it sounds like Democrats being mad because they were out spent by the republicans.

David Briegel

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

Top Cat, To compare a 25 yr old issue with the current overuse of the per diem policy is hardly a fair comparison. Kathleen Fojtik was there. I trust her opinion and personal experience! And you prefer this type of colorful? I totally agree that neither candidate has committed any crime.

Kathleen Fojtik Stroud

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

Comsr. Ronnie Peterson should be commended for his service (at no overcharge) to the voters of his district. My experience is that the Republican Commissioners knew how to get paid for anything and everything while keeping it a secret from others, at least that is how it worked between l972 and l980.

David Briegel

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

AlwaysLate, They are public servants. Not political hacks. I'll bet Mark and Jessica will be happy to repay plus interest! I'll bet there are regular audits. JSA, Um, is Bernero serving Washtenaw County? Those fines might bankrupt the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce! Careful what you wish for, it might "trickle down" on you.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

Snicker, wonder if Stu Dowty will parade in front of Ouimet's house in his duck outfit. I advise against that as it is just about hunting season!

Top Cat

Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

After the Democrats nominated a colorless candidate who can't pay her taxes, I guess they had to pull something out of the hat. "Politics ain't beanbag."


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:12 p.m.

What a bunch of self serving hypocrites. Let's have a 5 grand fine for each airing of Bernero's misleading ads.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

IF any Commissioner claimed payments that they are not elible to recieve, thet pay but the money plus interest. However, it does strike me as partisan politics and Kestenbaum's report should questioned. An indepentant audit of all departments that are controlled by political hacks should be done on a regular basis.