At the beginning of the October 8th Board of Oakland Township meeting, Supervisor Gonser spent seven and one half minutes attacking Trustee Keyes for doing her job. He accused her of wasting the Board’s time by raising issues that he thought were “trivial to trite and insignificant”. He refused to allow her to respond to his attack. He told her she could respond at the end of the meeting. Five hours later, when she was allowed to respond, after almost all of the residents present at the beginning of the meeting had left, he tried to limit her comments to 2 minutes.
Supervisor Gonser attacked Trustee Keyes for challenging the accuracy of two vote counts from previous meetings that were confirmed to be wrong.
He attacked her for raising issues because he is not following the outdated Township Bylaws. Yet earlier this year, Trustee Keyes made a motion to perform a review of all Township policies and procedures. That motion was not approved by the Board. Her intent was to identify issues, and update the policies and procedures as needed.
He attacked her for challenging several bills in public, and wanted the Board to raise billing questions outside the Board meeting and the public eye. Yet Trustee Keyes’ previous questions went unanswered by Supervisor Gonser and Clerk Reilly for a month, only to find out that Supervisor Gonser had indeed inappropriately authorized the work that was in question.
In Supervisor Gonser’s closing comments during the attack, he stated:
“I hope and pray that future meetings will be conducted professionally without attacks and the bludgeoning of consultants, staff and residents in a public forum.”
Supervisor Gonser violated his own statement by his treatment of Trustee Keyes in the October 8th meeting!!
Here is a more detailed review of the events described above:
Supervisor Gonser stated that Trustee Keyes questioning the vote count for the first reading of the parks rezoning at the September 10 meeting was “much to do about nothing”.
- Supervisor Gonser stated that the vote count was 4 to 3. Trustee McKay confirmed at the October 10th meeting that she had voted in favor of the motion making the vote count 5 to 2.
- Even though the outcome did not change, Trustee Keyes was correct, and Supervisor Gonser was wrong. It is the Chair’s (Gonser’s) responsibility to make sure the recording secretary gets the proper vote count.
- Proper vote counts are very important in our governmental processes.
- Trustee Keyes was trying to correct the error.
Supervisor Gonser accused Trustee Keyes of “bludgeoning” the auditor and questioning the accuracy of the vote count for the approval for filing the audit at the September 24th meeting.
- Trustee Keyes had made requests to accept the auditor’s offer to provide training to the Board on the audit process.
- The auditor failed to respond to her written requests.
- Clerk Reilly indicated that her staff was “too busy” to schedule the requested training session.
- One of the reasons Supervisor Gonser voted against approving the audit for filing was that he was unfamiliar with the audit process. (training??)
- Once again, the recorded vote count was wrong. Supervisor Gonser announced in the meeting that the motion had passed, but did not state the count. He asked the recording secretary “Did you get the votes?”
- The following day, at Trustee Keyes request, the staff reviewed the video of the meeting, and determined that the motion had actually failed in a 3 to 3 tie vote, contrary to what Supervisor Gonser had announced at the meeting.
- Once again, proper vote counts are important in our governmental processes. Trustee Keyes was trying to fix an error.
Supervisor Gonser accused Trustee Keyes of raising bylaw procedural issues since the bylaws were outdated and not being followed.
- Trustee Keyes recognized that the bylaws were not being followed.
- That is why earlier this year, she requested an audit of all of the Township’s policies, practices and procedures.
- The Board did not support her initiative.
- Trustee Keyes offered copies of the bylaws to all of the Board members several months ago. Only Trustee McKay accepted her offer.
- Apparently, the Board members (with the exception of Trustees Keyes and McKay) have been operating for almost one year without having either a copy or an understanding of the Township bylaws.
- By having outdated bylaws, Supervisor Gonser feels empowered to make unilateral decisions, as evidenced by his October 8th assertion that:
“Meeting protocol is established by the Chair!”
Supervisor Gonser accused Trustee Keyes of having a ‘gotcha’ mentality because of her desire for public viewing of the bills.
- Fiduciary accuracy is a major responsibility of the Board.
- Supervisor Gonser indicated that questions by Trustees on billings should be raised and resolved prior the meetings.
- However, at the August 13th Board meeting, Trustee Keyes asked a question regarding several bills.
- Supervisor Gonser, Treasurer Langlois, Clerk Reilly and Superintendant Creech sat silent for 20 seconds.
- Trustee Keyes had followed up with e-mails to Clerk Reilly asking for an answer to her question.
- Clerk Reilly did not respond to her e-mail.
- Clerk Reilly then sent a letter to the Board, the day of the following month’s meeting, asking the Board to approach the staff if they have any questions on billings.
- It was not until after questioning by Trustee Keyes, in that Board meeting, that her question from the previous month had been answered.
- The answer to the question was that Supervisor Gonser and Clerk Reilly had approved the actions that Trustee Keyes had questioned the previous month.
- The approvals that Supervisor Gonser and Clerk Reilly had made were not appropriate, since those approvals should have been made by the Parks and Recreation Commission (Marshview Connector Park parking lot).
- In the October 8th meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated
“All questions on bills have been satisfactorily answered!”
- It was not made clear for whom, besides Supervisor Gonser, had the questions been satisfactorily addressed.
- Questions on the appropriateness of the Township paying for Supervisor Gonser’s legal advice for his personal request for an Attorney General opinion on the Blossom RIdge matter still existed when Gonser made this statement.
Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township? Having accurate vote counts is a fundamental necessity for a governmental body. Considering their accuracy as “trivial and trite”, is not something we should expect from our Supervisor. Making sure our Township is governed by a set of established procedures is critical. We cannot have them established by the “whims” of the Supervisor. The outdated bylaws should be updated as Trustee Keyes attempted to do earlier this year. The Supervisor’s efforts to “cover up” his own deficiencies by attacking a Trustee for raising good questions is totally unacceptable. Supervisor Gonser appears to be attacking those who point out his own leadership deficiencies. This from a leader who ran on “transparency”.