Monthly Archives: October 2013

Joan Buser – “KEEP MANAGER FORM OF GOVERNMENT”

As Supervisor Joan Buser, I served Oakland Township for 17 years.  I strongly advise you to keep the manager form of government for the following reasons:

  • During my tenure I met with many supervisors in Oakland County.  Very few were qualified for their position.  The results can be seen most dramatically in the zoning ordinances and ordinance compliance.    When you drive through the townships that lacked good supervisors you can see what happened when a supervisor was inexperienced and there was no professional manager to help.
  • Once a development occurs that is not compliant with township ordinances you have that eyesore forever.
  • It is not only zoning that is a concern.  Oakland Township was considered for a prison site, a dump, and uncontrolled gravel mining.  These grave issues were successfully turned away.
  • Before running for office, I had worked thirteen years in various capacities for Oakland Township.  Holding a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, I did not need a manager, because I was, effectively, a professional manager and an elected Supervisor.
  • Very few citizens have such qualifications.  That is why a qualified manager is needed to make things run properly.
  • The Board sets the goals for the township, and the manager facilitates the implementation of these goals.

We need to replace Trustee Judy Keyes

The Township lost an excellent advocate for good government when Trustee Keyes resigned.  It will be difficult to replace her passion, courage and integrity but we need to try.  I urge anyone who is concerned about the future of Oakland Township to fill out the simple application that I have linked below.

The commitment would be to serve until the general election in Nov. 2014.

I have applied even though my being selected is nearly impossible.  I am sure there are many people reading this who would be able to make a valuable contribution so please apply.  The application deadline is 4:30 PM this Friday, November 1st so mail your application early or drop it off at the Township Hall.

This is the notice from the Township web site:

Currently there is an open position on the Board of Trustees the Board is seeking to fill. This will be filled by appointment until the next general election. Interested candidates can submit their application to Karen Brennen, Deputy Clerk, by close of business on Friday, November 1st, 2013.

PLEASE NOTE THE NOVEMBER 1ST DEADLINE

BOARDS AND COMMISSION APPLICATION  – From the Township web site

Jim Foulkrod

Superintendent Jim Creech leaves. What’s Next?

Our Township Superintendent Jim Creech, a professional municipal manager who has been responsible for the day-to-day running of township operations for fifteen years signed a Separation Agreement ending his time with the township effective at the end of the Oct. 22nd Board meeting where it was announced.  The details of events leading up to that event are unclear and we will try to shed some light on them soon.  We have watched the relationship between Superintendent Creech and Supervisor Gonser get off to a rocky start and deteriorate from there.  We saw members of the Board of Trustees and Supervisor Gonser blame Superintendent Creech for virtually every misstep and embarrassment that has come their way.

Trustee Thalmann spoke up saying that the Superintendent’s duties now fall to Supervisor Gonser and maybe that is a good thing because he is elected and not an unelected bureaucrat.

She speaks of the elected Supervisor potentially sharing the duties “a. through o”.  The duties she refers to are specified in the State of Michigan Charter Township Act and are shown below.

42.10 Township superintendent; appointment; delegation of powers and duties of township supervisor.

Sec. 10. The township board in each charter township shall have power to appoint a township superintendent and may delegate to him any or all of the following functions and duties which functions and duties, unless so delegated, shall be exercised by the supervisor:

(a) To see that all laws and township ordinances are enforced;

(b) To manage and supervise all public improvements, works, and undertakings of the township;

(c) To have charge of the construction, repair, maintenance, lighting and cleaning of streets, sidewalks, bridges, pavements, sewers, and of all the public buildings or other property belonging to the township;

(d) To manage and supervise the operation of all township utilities;

(e) To be responsible for the preservation of property, tools, and appliances of the township;

(f) To see that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the township or its inhabitants in any public utility franchise, or in any contract, are faithfully kept and performed;

(g) To attend all meetings of the township board, with the right to take part in discussions, but without the right to vote;

(h) To be a member, ex officio, of all committees of the township board;

(i) To prepare and administer the annual budget under policies formulated by the township board and keep the said board fully advised at all times as to the financial condition and needs of the township;

(j) To recommend to the township board for adoption such measures as he may deem necessary or expedient;

(k) To be responsible to the township board for the efficient administration of all departments of the township government;

(l) To act as the purchasing agent for the township or, under his responsibility, delegate such duties to some other officer or employee;

(m) To conduct all sales of personal property which the township board may authorize to be sold;

(n) To assume all the duties and responsibilities as personnel director of all township employees or delegate such duties to some other officer or employee;

(o) To perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this act or required of him by ordinance or by direction of the township board, or which are not assigned to some other official in conformity with the provisions of this act.

We, the citizens of the township, must carefully consider what this means.

Supervisor Gonser has spoken publicly about “working fifty to sixty hours a week” in just his duties as township supervisor.  He has made mistakes that have caused the township to be facing three legal actions in less than a year:

  • The Federal HUD investigation about allegations of housing discrimination.
  • A lawsuit alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.
  • A criminal investigation by the Oakland County Sheriffs Office into alleged violations of the Open Meetings act with regard to the leasing of space in the Paint Creek Cider Mill.
  • Also, upon her resignation Trustee Keys made many allegations of improper decision making, usurping of the powers of the Board of Trustees and personal intimidation.

Do we want him to be responsible for (a) To see that all laws and township ordinances are enforced;

The Township has lost three important and trusted employees for reasons that included conflict with Supervisor Gonser:

  • Building Director -Bill Benoit;
  • Recording Secretary – Ingred Kliffel;
  • Superintendent – Jim Creech.

Should Gonser be responsible for (n) To assume all the duties and responsibilities as personnel director of all township employees?

The Supervisor announced his “Good News” trail that would need to be constructed on a very steep, clearly unbuildable, bank of the Paint Creek.   He could not have even looked at the property before announcing that it would be built.

Should we hire him to be responsible for (b) To manage and supervise all public improvements, works, and undertakings of the township?

Please come to the meetings or watch them on the Township Website and let your voice be heard about whether this is the path our township should take.

Jim Foulkrod

Blossom Ridge – A Compromise is on the Table

At the 10/8/13 Board of Trustees Meeting Mr. Ed Kickham, Attorney for the Developer of the proposed Blossom Ridge senior living center presented the outlines of a compromise that has been presented to Supervisor Gonser.  The highlights of the proposal are:

  • The partial 3rd floor of the main building is removed causing a decrease in the units in the building;
  • The number of ranch and duet units on the grounds is increased;
  • The net total unit count is reduced to 228. Note: the plan approved by the Planning Commission had 282 units.

The negotiations are a response to the ongoing investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development into allegations of housing discrimination in Oakland Township.

UPDATE:  It has Been reported to me that the minutes for this Meeting do not even mention that Mr. Kickham’s presentation even occurred. The minutes say only that Supervisor Gonser updated the Board on the SAU.  This is not an innocent oversight. Why try to hide an attempt at compromise?

Jim Foulkrod

Sorry Maureen, readers of this site have lots of company – 12,000 views.

10/25/13:

To all our readers,

We are pleased that your interest in our posts about Oakland Township’s new government has, as of early this morning, attracted over 12,000 page views.

We have irritated members of our government with Supervisor Gonser calling us cowards and Trustee Thalmann complaining about “another baseless article in our local amateur Media Matters website”

We are not insulted by the comparison to an established professional website.  With the ongoing issues before the Township, and how the Board has handled past issues, we anticipate the number of views to continue to grow in the future.

Thank you all for taking your time to come here and read about what is really happening in our township.

Jim Foulkrod

TRUSTEE KEYES RESIGNS AT OCTOBER 22 OAKLAND TOWNSHIP BOARD MEETING

At the October 22 Oakland Township Board meeting, Trustee Keyes resigned her position as a Trustee of Oakland Township.  This came after months of significant differences between Trustee Keyes and Supervisor Gonser and  other members of the Board. 

Here are excerpts of the speech she gave when announcing her resignation:

“I have been threatened, intimidated, berated and demeaned on more than one occasion as a tactic to try to silence, control and force me into line and have been told, more than once, that I, as a Trustee am on a ‘need to know’ basis. These tactics have permeated my personal life and that of my family as well.

It is time for me to end my time as a servant to the community and return to the people’s podium where my hands can stay clean and where the ultimate authority and ability to hold the Board accountability lies. Ultimate authority does not lie behind these seven microphones.”

Here is a video of her total resignation speech:

Please read the following post to learn more about the most recent attack by Supervisor Gonser on Trustee Keyes.

https://oaklandtownship.info/2013/10/18/supervisor-gonser-attacks-trustee-keyes-for-doing-her-job/

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If you have been watching what has been going on in our Township since the new Board was elected, you probably have concluded that Trustee Keyes is a very principled person and had the Township’s bests interests in all of her actions.  Losing a person of principle on the Board, for what appear to be ethical issues by other Board members, makes one wonder “Who will become the conscience and ethics guardian on the Board?”

Supervisor Gonser’s conflict of interest vote

As discussed on a previous post on this website, the Township Board agreed to pay for Supervisor Gonser’s personal legal fees for his unauthorized efforts to obtain an Attorney General opinion on the Blossom Ridge matter.  The results of the vote was 5 to 2.  Supervisor Gonser participated in the vote.  He was one of the 5 votes agreeing to have the Township pay that expense. 

At the October 22, 2013 meeting, the author of this post requested Supervisor Gonser explain to the citizens of Oakland Township why he felt it was appropriate for him to vote on an issue for which he personally benefitted.  He refused to disclose his reason in public.  He ended by saying:

“Fortunately, I do not answer to you!”

“This Board speaks through our motions”

“That order of business is done!”

The author’s question was raised on behalf of the citizens of Oakland Township.  He DOES answer to all of us!  His lack of action and comments reflect his arrogance and authoritarian style that has been documented in so many other issues on this website.  The Supervisor’s comments clearly implicate the entire Board in their complicity to this unethical behavior.

Here are the video elements from the October 22 meeting on this matter:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If an elected official votes on an issue that he/she personally benefits from, it is a conflict of interest.  Supervisor Gonser’s open denial to answer the question raises serious questions on his ethics and hidden motivations or “agendas” on other issues before the Board.  Once again, this action is  coming from someone who ran on a platform of transparency.

Richard Michalski