White Cloud's mayor resigns to avoid potential 'incompatible offices'

White Cloud Mayor Don Barnhard is stepping down from that position so he can be the city's public works supervisor -- he was the subject of our investigation last year.

WHITE CLOUD, MICH - White Cloud's Mayor Don Barnhard is stepping down from his position as the city's mayor at the end of the month so he can be White Cloud's Department of Public Works Supervisor.

To take the job, the city's leaders asked Barnhard to resign as mayor, effective May 28, 2017. 

As a condition of his new employment beginning May 29, 2017, the city will not do business with any company owned or operated by Barnhard.

The stipulation was put in place following a WZZM 13 Watchdog investigation last September that found Barnhard was doing work for the city of White Cloud using his personal business. In state records, we found that company, Barnhard Construction, had been dissolved by the state of Michigan in 1992.

Over the last eight months, our investigative team has not been made aware the issue with Barnhard was investigated by any governmental entity. Kalkofen declined comment when asked about it Wednesday.

Kalkofen did tell us Barnhard was asked to step down because she said the law wasn't clear he could do both jobs at the same time. City leaders asked attorney Cliff Bloom for his advice on the matter and according to meeting minutes he recommended the mayor step down from his position. Kalkofen said holding both offices in this case could be considered a "grey area" in the law.

"We couldn't get a clear-cut decision so we needed to operate with caution," Kalkofen said.

The city's had a series of retirements in its Department of Public Works and Barnhard applied for the supervisor vacancy and got the job. Kalkofen said the city did interviews and conducted a fair hiring process.

As for holding both offices, a state attorney general's opinion written by former Attorney General Frank Kelley in 1995 wrote that holding "incompatible offices" happens when the official is performing the duties of any of the public offices held by the official but then it results in the subordination of one public office to another, the supervision of one public office by another or the breach of duty of public office.

White Cloud Mayor Pro Tempore Charles Chandler will be the interim mayor in White Cloud until a new election will be done in November of this year.

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