The City of South Lyon’s Board of Ethics is being asked to conduct an investigation into one of the municipality’s city council members who reportedly made inappropriate comments about another member.

Council Member Mary Parisien informed those in attendance at City Council’s Monday meeting that on October 31st, she was contacted by a local business informing her that Council Member Carl Richards had made comments at the business about Parisien’s sexuality, body and the way she dresses. Richards also reportedly bragged about looking into the windows of Parisien’s home, described it “in detail”, and made what Parisien says was “discriminatory comments about the LGBTQ community”. As a result, Parisien sought a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against Richards, which an Oakland County Circuit Court judge granted on Monday.

Part of the PPO stipulated that while Richards has a right to attend council meetings for business matters, he must be as far away from Parisien as possible for the next year. Richards sat at the back of the room for the entirety of the meeting.

At council’s meeting, Parisien made a motion requesting that the city’s Board of Ethics conduct an investigation into Richards to determine if he had violated the Ethics Ordinance. The motion passed four to two, with Council Members Rose Walton and Margaret Kurtzweil opposing. Kurztweil feels the Board of Ethics is being over-utilized noting, "This is the second time that the Board of Ethics has been requested and I'm almost beginning to believe that that commission is starting to become "weaponized" and becoming an organization that people are very quick to send things to because they have an issue, or a bone to pick, or an agenda...So I would like to get all of my eggs in one place, I would like to see the report that's going to come out of Oakland County."

Kurtzweil also suggested that Richards' comments were protected by the First Amendment and a form of free speech stating, "As far as I'm concerned this was kind of a...individual in his private life, in a private conversation with a business owner, which blew up...So I guess the word of the day is be careful who you talk to. I don't have the information that I think I need in front of me right now to send to the Board of Ethics. I'm not even sure if that is the place this should go. I think the court systems appear to be handling this and maybe that's where this should just stay."

But Parisien says the judge who granted her PPO made no effort to hide his dismay of the whole situation and on record, noted that Richards was old enough to be Parisien's grandfather. Parisien reminded that this is not Richards’ first incident related to inappropriate comments made towards women. During public interviews in January for a vacant council seat, Richards persistently asked one candidate about whether she had recently had a baby. Richards as a result was required to attend diversity training in September, which Parisien says must've not worked, since Richards made the comments about her the very next month.

Parisien also stated that she does not feel Richards should sit on council adding, "It is important to note that as a public figure, I expect individuals to have an opinion of their governing officials. However Carl is not just a public citizen. Carl is a colleague who sits at this table alongside me. As such, he needs to be held to a higher standard. Harassing a fellow council member by peering into my home, and proceeding to visit local businesses in our community to spread malicious lies is uncalled for, unprofessional and reflects poorly on our community."

The Board of Ethics will next meet on December 6th. (DK)