Editorial – Comments section open below
Written by John Face
Photo Credit John Face
October 11, 2021
On August 13 of this year this writer sat down with Albion College President Mathew Johnson for an interview where many subjects were covered. City Watch wrote a story back on September 12 that attempted to address potential situations between Johnson and City of Albion Council members.
One of the things that was discussed was the college offering a no bid contract to then City Council member Vicky Clark for janitorial services. You can read the story here:
Clark has since resigned her seat on the Council as she has moved.
City Watch then addressed Council member Linda LaNoue regarding her position at the college. It was when I asked about Council member Nora Jackson that raised flags for this writer. President Johnson was asked if Jackson was able to use Washington Gardner for free for her non-profit Difference Makers? Johnsons reply was quick as he said “you have to ask the YMCA because she works with them for space”.
Immediately after the last answer from Johnson, he went into dialog about Albion City Council member Lenn Reid. This quick change of subject struck this writer as odd. Again read the story link above for clarification. City Watch has been working for several weeks since the interview to find out what exactly the relationship, if any, between Johnson, Jackson and the YMCA may be.
This weekend City Watch was allowed to view emails exchanged between Jackson and the YMCA. In the email that was sent to the Y from Nora Jackson on September 29, and copied on the email is Mathew Johnson for some unknown reason, a long request by Jackson about using Washington Gardner again for her group Difference Makers. Specifically the email said “We Difference Makers would like to know if we could continue our program in the space we used during the summer months?” The implication being that as Johnson said in his interview that the YMCA had control over the usage of Washington Gardner space that Jackson and her group used.
Now why Jackson attached President Johnson to the email between her and the YMCA if the College and he had nothing to do with the deal is interesting. That is another question for another day.
The reply to Jackson and Johnson, from the YMCA was one that showed the YMCA had no control over who used Washington Gardner. The quote “The Y does not own the space at Washington Gardner and we have no authority to approve or deny a request for its use. The use of that space is a decision made between you and the College”. Clearly the YMCA has no authority or control of Washington Gardner. What this email appears to be doing by Jackson is to establish a history which does not exist.
Why is this a concern? Johnson knew when he denied to this writer that Albion College allowed Jackson to use the facility for free, which is another example of a City Council member getting a deal from the college. As in the article link above I asked does this pass the smell test? Johnson tried to talk away the Clark deal, but now lumped together with this deal for Jackson there are serious and potentially legal questions that need to be addressed.
When benefits are being given to elected members of Albion City Council we all should step up and ask questions.