Where is Houghton County Commissioner Scott Ala?
The District 4 representative has reportedly missed six of the last seven county board meetings.
Board Chairman Al Koskela is calling for financial penalties for commissioners who miss meetings and the matter was turned over to the personnel committee at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday.
Ala attended two meetings earlier this year via speaker phone but that was shut down by Koskela at last month’s meeting when he would not allow Ala to vote, citing state law.
When asked about Ala’s whereabouts, Koskela said he didn’t know why he wasn’t at the meetings but said he believed Ala to be living in Florida.
Koskela added that Ala should resign and allow the board to appoint a new commissioner so that the people of Ala’s district, the city of Houghton, would have representation.
In an exclusive interview Wednesday morning, Ala said he is in Florida and has no plans to return to the board anytime soon.
“If I come to one more meeting, it will only be to say goodbye to the public that has been so good to me and entrusted their faith in me to properly run a county. It is totally and completely improperly run right now,” said Ala.
Ala said he has been traveling since his wife’s retirement last September but has tried to keep involved in the county. He said he once again tried to call into Tuesday’s board meeting but only got a busy signal.
Ala said, “I’m almost beside myself of how these commissioners are acting because, number one, this attending meetings via telephone, videoconference is old. It’s not something new. This is another one of a couple of people’s personal vendettas, is all it is.”
Ala identified those people as Commissioners Koskela and Tim Palosaari.
Ala also criticized the media for not properly covering the problems of the board. “It’s unfortunate that I say these things and they never make it in the media. I have said that this board is so dysfunctional, that all they do is pick and choose the meetings that people go to personally, behind everybody’s back,” Ala said.
Ala went on to say he requested information on the contracts of the other commissioners from County Administrator Eric Forsberg but was denied.
“I made the request ‘let me know how much everybody made last year’. The controller said ‘I don’t have to give you that information’. I said ‘you don’t?’ ‘Nope’, Ala said. “As a matter of fact, in the email he sent to me, it basically said that (Forsberg) is running the county, not the commissioners anymore.”
Ala did not file to run for re-election to his current position.