The following statement can be attributed to Lansing City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar:
Last year, my husband and I separated after 18 years of marriage. We experienced the same challenges that many families go through in these situations, and we did our best to keep matters private. We emerged in a better place, where we continue to serve our community and raise four bright, healthy, socially conscious children.
A year later, several councilmembers, led by Brian Jeffries, are dragging sensitive, personal matters pertaining to my separation into the realm of council politics. This is a calculated attempt to direct attention away from important city issues and focus instead on details of my personal life during a year when he and I are both running for re-election.
I had no intention of legitimizing this tactic with a public response, but I am left with no choice. Last week, in violation of confidentiality requirements inherent to closed meetings, Carol Wood informed a reporter that she shut me out of committee leadership because of matters being discussed in closed session. The leak was politically motivated, designed to insinuate scandal where there is none.
The issue in question is a private family matter that has no place in council deliberation. While I am disgusted by the cloud of suspicion Brian Jeffries has created, I remain ethically bound by the rules of confidentiality, which prohibit me from sharing a full account of this situation with the public and the media. However, I’ve been advised that I may share facts relative to me that occurred outside of closed session.
Shortly before we separated, my husband and I had an argument during which my city laptop computer was damaged. At the time, I thought it was beyond repair. I did not report the computer was damaged because I was ashamed to admit, and didn’t want to relive, how bad things had gotten at the end of our marriage.
Months later, I was asked to bring in the computer for software updates. I confided to a staff person that the computer was damaged. In a lapse of judgment and misplaced trust, I shared details of the incident that resulted in the computer being damaged, and since I thought it was damaged beyond repair, we discussed options for replacing it. My only interest was to keep the details of the incident private and protect my family. Despite assurances that my personal family matters would remain confidential, that conversation has become the basis for a politically motivated witch hunt, led by Brian Jeffries.
When it started to become clear that Brian Jeffries intended to turn my personal trauma into political fodder, I swallowed my pride and took the damaged computer to the IT department. The case was destroyed, but the computer itself was still intact. They were able to repair it according to standard protocol, with a salvaged parts lying around the office. I’ve offered to pay any repair costs but have yet to receive an invoice.
It is never easy to face the end of a marriage, and Sam and I did our best to protect our children. We were thankful that our children did not witness, nor did they know about, the details of our argument. They are, however, old enough to read the news. So this weekend, prompted by inquiries following Carol Wood's breach about closed session, Sam and I told our children what happened to the computer and prepared them for any media coverage.
I have proudly and dutifully served my constituents on the City Council since 2005, even during some very challenging personal circumstances. It sickens me that, during an election year, Brian Jeffries has sunk to the level of using my private family matters to impugn my character. As it turned out, my concern about revealing to our IT department how the computer broke was unfounded. They simply fixed the computer. End of story. Brian Jeffries is not content with that ending, so he and others continue to pursue this matter, traumatizing my family by dredging up a painful chapter in our lives, for what I can only assume is political leverage.
I am not the subject of any current or pending litigation. I am not named in any complaint, and have no charges pending. I violated no laws or ordinances, and have done nothing unethical. While some members of city council have chosen to use this very personal situation as an opportunity to tarnish me in an election year, I will remain focused on my job as a council member and resolving yet another multi-million dollar city deficit.