Respected Douglas Civic Leader Subjected To “Hate Campaign” Over Consolidation Support
One of Douglas’ most dedicated, respsected and involved citizens has reportedly been the target of a hate campaign over his decision to support the effort to consolidate the two local governments.
At Monday’s council meeting, the Douglas City Council extended words of sympathy to Max Matteson, co-chair of the Consolidated Government Committee (CGC), the group which initiated the campaign to have the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck become one city.
Matteson has reportedly been subjected to hate notes as it relates to his activities with CGC.
Citing he did not want to foment further hate material and controversy, Matteson declined to provide any names of the individuals who had targeted him.
Echoing the sentiments of her colleagues, Douglas Mayor Pro Tem Martha Hoexter noted, “I apologize to Max (Matteson). I hope you still consider being a good citizen for Douglas.”
Hoexter was alluding to the numerous contributions Matteson has made to the City of Douglas, being instrumental in starting the Douglas Downtown Authority (DDA), the Douglas Socials at Beery Field, and promoting and taking part in making downtown Douglas more economically viable.
Matteson has been a Douglas resident since 1984 when he and his partner, Bud Baty, purchased and renovated Point Pleasant Marine. The two have actively supported countless local causes designed to improve life in the community.
In 1994, they were instrumental in the successful re-development of downtown Douglas.
Prior to his retirement, Max served as president and CEO of Salon Enterprises, which owned and operated Panopoulos Salons, Hair Cuts Plus Salons, and Chic Schools.
Matteson is currently a partner in the Dara Real Estate Company. He also serves on the Oxbow Auxiliary Board, and is an active member of the Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ.
“I love this community. I am pro-consolidation because I strongly believe that consolidation is the best option for us to take on tomorrow’s challenges,” said Matteson.
However, not everything was conciliatory on Monday.
Douglas City Council Member Bill Japinga said he was indignant over Matteson’s recent letter to Douglas City Attorney Philip Erickson that raises ethical and legal questions concerning what exactly -and how far - council members can speak to the issue of consolidation.
Japinga himself quoted from Matteson’s letter, which states, in part, “At the most recent Douglas City Council meeting, August 6, which I (Matteson) attended, Councilman Bill Japinga engaged in a spirited and anger-filled recitation of the anti-consolidation campaign language typically used by the main opposition group, the CCIC (Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities).”
Referring to the letter, Japinga noted, “I really don’t’ appreciate it.”
Japinga has openly been critical of the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan’s recent report - which was paid for by the governments of Douglas and Saugatuck - showing that consolidation means a saving of $500,000 per year. The report was revised, but still showed close to the same level of savings of taxpayers’ money should consolidation take place.
Matteson’s letter also states, “The purpose of this letter, given the aforementioned set of facts, is to ascertain from you, the City Attorney of the City of the Village of Douglas, whether an elected or appointed official may ethically or legally engage in electioneering while performing official duties.
“Further, may said municipal officials convert taxpayer-provided resources for the purposes of advancing the political cause of a specific group?”
Matteson said he has yet to receive a response from the city attorney.