Board acts on civil rights complaint

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board of Commissioners is moving forward into investigating a civil rights complaint.

At Tuesday’s county board meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss a written opinion of their attorney, pending litigation, and contract negotiations.

Though no action was taken during executive session, the board opted to request the Delta County sheriff discuss whether it would be appropriate for the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association to investigate a civil rights complaint they received.

“A complaint has been made and needs to be investigated and we have no choice in doing that,” said Board Vice Chair Mary Harrington. “However, we want to keep it as neutral as possible so that nobody’s accused of playing favorites or trying to sway the problem any way, so the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association could decide if it’s appropriate for them to investigate it.”

Harrington noted this would come at no cost to the county.

Commissioner Dave Moyle said seeing whether the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association could investigate is the best option for all parties involved since if the county did nothing in regard to the civil rights complaint, the federal government would come in to investigate.

Though the board made no mention of who was involved in the complaint, Christine Pepin, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2755 believes the complaint is against her and another person.

Pepin said following the meeting she believes the two are being accused of making discriminatory statements about a county employee, which she said is completely false.

“We have been accused of saying things that were not said and at the very least, it’s a frivolous disciplinary action…,” said Pepin prior to the meeting.

Following executive session, Pepin again addressed the board.

“This is an effort to violate my First Amendment right to speech,” she said. “It’s an effort by this administration to silence a union through intimidation with the threat of disciplinary action and we look forward to hearing what the heck you think happened. We’ll be back.”