Details of Bjorne’s retirement settlement with Ishpeming explained

MARQUETTE – Former Ishpeming Police Chief Jim Bjorne will receive $70,000 and his full pension from his settlement with the city of Ishpeming.

The $70,000 will be covered by the city’s insurance – The Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority – and includes all damages, interest, costs and attorney fees, according to Ishpeming City Attorney David Savu. The MMRMA is a public entity self-insurance pool that “provides liability and property coverage to municipal governmental entities across Michigan,” according to its website.

According to the settlement agreement obtained by The Mining Journal through the Freedom of Information Act, Bjorne agrees to pay all costs associated with the transfer of his retirement benefits from Marquette County and to sign and deliver a letter of apology to Councilwoman Claudia Demarest.

The city will accept a transfer of $4,779 from the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System on Bjorne’s behalf and about $22,475 from MERS on behalf of Marquette County for Bjorne’s three years and 10 months of service as an undersheriff with the county.

This money will be transfered to Ishpeming’s pension plan police and fire employees, and an actuarial study – to be paid for by Bjorne – will determine the additional lump sum amount Bjorne must pay into his pension plan to receive the full benefits of his retirement.

Bjorne’s letter of apology to Demarest stems from the email he wrote in September 2011 that resulted in his termination. In the email, Bjorne claimed that Demarest was stalking him and said that if the behavior didn’t stop, he would take action against her. Attached as Exhibit C in the settlement agreement, Bjorne said “this letter serves as a formal apology concerning my accusation that you were stalking me. Please accept this apology.” He signed the letter “cordially.”

The settlement also includes a letter from Bjorne announcing his intent to retire from the city.

“As in any career, there are high and low points but I always kept the city’s best interest in mind in the decisions I made,” Bjorne said in the letter. “I am retiring as an employee in good standing and look forward to moving ahead.”

Savu said that the settlement does not stipulate that the city must accept or acknowledge that Bjorne is retiring “in good standing.” He said the settlement merely acknowledges the city’s receipt of the letter.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is