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Shiawassee County Commission Board chairman resigns post amid hazard pay controversy

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Shiawassee County residents vented their anger Sunday over the county board’s decision to give themselves COVID-19 hazard pay bonuses.

More than 200 people attended the standing-room only special meeting in Corunna. 

But before they could start addressing the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners, Vice Chairman Brandon Marks kicked off the meeting with a special announcement.

“The first thing on the agenda is acceptance of the chairman’s resignation,” said Marks, an announcement that drew applause from the audience.  

Now-former chairman Jeremy Root has been the focus of the firestorm of criticism over the commissioners’ decision to give themselves bonuses. The money came from federal American Rescue Plan funds, which was included to provide hazard pay bonuses to first responders.

The board voted themselves the bonuses along with hazard pay for county employees last month.   

In all, the commissioners received $65,000 in bonuses, with Commissioner Root receiving $25,000 alone.

A judge later ordered the commissioners to repay the money.

The controversy has angered many in Shiawassee County.

“This is truly an embarrassment,” resident Eric Hazel, told the board Sunday. “It’s an embarrassment to our community.  And now it’s an embarrassment to the entire country.”

At the meeting, some Shiawassee County residents said they want Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to step in and remove members of the board of commissioners.

They also want federal and state investigations into Shiawassee County’s government. 

On Sunday, the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners voted to install Commissioner Gregory Brodeur as Board chairman to replace Jeremy Root.

Brodeur will hold the post until the board’s usual organization meeting in January.     

“I hope....to reestablish the trust of the community,” said Brodeur. 

That appears to be an uphill battle.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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