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Troy City Councilman Ed Pennington resigns

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 21, 2020

 Ed Pennington

Ed Pennington

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TROY — After the City Council voted not to allow a business owned by Councilman Ed Pennington to be considered as a vendor for the city of Troy, Pennington resigned his seat on the council.

Pennnigton called for a vote at the Jan. 13 meeting on a resolution to allow Pennington Collision, which has been a vendor for the city of Troy, to continue to do business with the city.

The measure failed 5-1, with Pennington recused. Mayor Ethan Baker voted to allow Pennington Collision to do business with Troy.

“I appreciate and respect your position,” said Councilwoman Edna Abrahim. “The city of Troy has taken some hits. Aspersions were cast. Breach of ethics cast doubt on everyone.”

“Rebuilding trust is important. I voted for this resolution in the past,” Baker said. “I’m very troubled. It looks like we’re saying something is wrong with Ed Pennington. That’s not the case. The city was doing business with Pennington Collision long before Ed Pennington was on the council.”

The council passed a resolution at the Aug. 22, 2016, meeting to allow Pennington Collision to remain on the list of businesses eligible to conduct business with the city of Troy.

In August 2016, C & G Newspapers obtained city emails under the Freedom of Information Act to fill in details surrounding an internal probe of some of then-City Manager Brian Kischnick’s practices.

In those emails, a Finance Department employee had stated that a requisition to have a car that was involved in an accident with an unspecified city vehicle fixed did not include a police or incident report, and it didn’t include a claim review. The employee was uncomfortable proceeding and requested direction.

That employee expressed reservations in a May 17, 2016, email about using Pennington Collision to fix the vehicle until the matter was disclosed or approved by council. Pennington Collision was on the list of the city’s eligible vendors at the time.

“We had that car because (the person whose car was hit) was our customer, and that’s how it came to us,” Pennington told C & G Newspapers in 2016. “It didn’t come through the city. She was already a customer.”

Last January, Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years of probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery.

The Troy City Council terminated Kischnick’s employment March 11, 2018, following a March 9 domestic assault charge in Clawson, to which he pleaded no contest.

Council weighs in

Council member Ann Erickson Gault said her no vote was based “on how I read the charter. Council members should not be doing business with the city of Troy.”   

Saying it was about restoring trust, Councilwoman Theresa Brooks said, “I struggled a lot with this vote. I respect and like you as an individual and respect what your family has done. This is really tough, and not personal at all.”

“It’s very difficult,” said Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek. “It is not personal. I will err on the side of being as pristine as we can be.”

“I resign as of tonight,” Pennington said from the council table at the meeting’s end. “It’s been a good run, 7 1/2  years.”

He added that he wants to spend more time with his family, including his grandson Grant, 1 1/2, before his son’s family relocates.

His resignation prompted words of support and praise from the council.

“I don’t want you to resign,” said Hodorek. “I understand why you are.”

“You really are talented at seeing through a lot of the garbage,” Baker said.

“I believe you are an honorable person,” Erickson Gault said.

“You will really be missed,” Brooks said. “You have a valuable perspective.”

Pennington told C & G Newspapers that Pennington Collision performed $6,000 of work in 2018 for the city of Troy. “The amount didn’t matter. It was the principle of the thing.”

He said that Pennington Collision has been in business since 1968, with the city of Troy as a customer. “I thought it (the council vote) was unfair. There wasn’t any conflict of interest.”

Pennington said the move sends a message to business owners not to apply for City Council and “was just a way to force me out.”

He said he did appreciate the council’s kind words. “They all supported me and supported the shop. But the whole process was unfair.”

The Troy city charter stipulates that a new council member must be appointed within 30 days after a written resignation is accepted.

Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm explained that after Pennington submits his resignation in writing, the council will decide by a vote at the next scheduled meeting, Jan. 27, whether to accept his resignation, and if so, to declare a vacancy.

If that occurs, Grigg Bluhm said, there would be no prohibition against Pennington Collision vying for city business through the competitive bid process.

Pennington had a year and a half left in his second term. A new council member would be appointed to serve until the Aug. 4 state election, at which time a new council member would be put to a vote of the people.

“City Council will decide the process and the deadlines,” Grigg Bluhm said via email. “We’re just making recommendations and providing a recommended application form.”

The application form will be available on the city website, troymi.gov, under the City Clerk’s Department.

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