Saginaw fire captain sues board members

Published 11:07 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A captain with the Saginaw Volunteer Fire Department has sued the board in an attempt to rewrite the department’s bylaws.

Capt. Corey Baginski filed the lawsuit after the department held board elections in December.

“Some of the board members got voted out, and they didn’t like the results of the first election, so they held another election, and basically invited everyone they wanted to come and vote for them,” Baginski said. “That goes completely against our bylaws. It was an illegal election.”

After the election, the department discovered it could not locate the original, signed copy of the station’s bylaws, Baginski said.

“From what we’ve been able to ascertain, there are no signed copies of the bylaws,” Baginski said. “We sued the board because the election wasn’t allowed in the bylaws. But then we got into court and found out that we couldn’t locate an original signed copy of our bylaws.

“We found out that a lot of our past elections were wrong, because we didn’t have a signed set of bylaws in place for them,” Baginski added.

The fire district will hold another election after the lawsuit is settled, which could take place either outside or inside a court.

“If there is no settlement before May 11, it will go to trial,” Baginski said. “Hopefully, this will be resolved in a way that benefits everyone.”

Baginski accused some members of the current board of having a lack of involvement in the district, and said they may have manipulated December’s second election.

“They were voted out for a reason. My personal opinion is that they have become complacent,” Baginski added.

Until the lawsuit is settled, the current board of directors will remain under a court-ordered restraining order, and will not be allowed to meet or write new bylaws. However, both sides of the issue said normal fire protection will not be affected for those living in the district.

“The status quo is still being maintained. Until we can get a new election, they’re still going to respond to fires and emergencies like always,” said Jim Pinot, the attorney representing current board president Joe Acker and other members of the board.

Acker declined to comment for this story.

Pinot said he believes only the people who live in the Saginaw fire district should be able to run for board positions and vote in the elections.

“All but one of the current board members lives in the current fire district, and he has been told he can’t run in the next election,” Pinot said. “All of the other current members plan to run.”

Baginski said he does not have an issue with allowing those in the district to vote, but he accused Acker and other board members of attempting to keep the same board members in power indefinitely.

“They are treating this like they are going to stay in power no matter what until the end of time,” Baginski said.