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

11 thoughts on “Superintendent Jim Creech leaves. What’s Next?

  1. Patricia

    Isn’t he retired already with a pension? Is the township supervisor (Gonser) paid and if so can that be disclosed? How much more would he make taking over the additional duties?
    Thank you

    Reply
  2. foulkrj Post author

    Patricia,
    Supervisor Gonser retired from GM. The township pays him something like $100 for every Board meeting plus a few thousand dollars a year. Any change in his compensation for increasing his responsibilities will need to be approved by the Board of Trustees in an open meeting. This is where the public voice will need to be heard.
    Jim

    Reply
  3. Alan

    I’ve only recently been following these developments, but can someone tell me: Were things going well since Mr. Gonser was elected and then went sour, or were things sour from the start and getting worse?

    What–if any–are the avenues for recall, or would that be a waste of time due to his support structure (and who are they?)?

    Finally, what could be the supervisor’s motivation for alienating the hired, paid staff? Undisclosed/unknown special interests?

    From this writer’s perspective, there’s something really wrong when the township government spends more time being distracted from their work than doing the township’s work.

    Reply
    1. foulkrj Post author

      Alan,
      In my opinion, leaving aside questionable campaign promises that the Blossom Ridge Senior Development would never be built, the problem started right away. I had a conversation with him on 12/11/12 in which he declared opposition to receiving already approved $1.1 million in Federal and State grant money for the Adams Road Safety Path. He maneuvered inaction and delay so that we lost that money. Then on April 1st he issued memo declaring that he would take over all of the assets obtained using our voter approved Land Preservation Millage which was rightly seen as an attack on our Parks Commission. When the Township employees began the process of unionizing it seemed like a bad response to the new Supervisor. Another bad omen was the Federal investigation into alleged housing discrimination

      The link below will provide you with information on Recall Procedures.

      http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Recal_Summary_for_Counties_426253_7.pdf

      Reply
  4. Robert Yager

    Act 349 of 1947
    Charter township board; compensation and expenses of members.
    Sec. 6.
    A trustee may receive, in addition to other emoluments provided by law for his service to the
    township, a sum per meeting of the board actually attended by him, as established by the township board to be paid upon authorization of the township board. The supervisor, the township clerk, and the township treasurer shall receive no additional compensation for attending meetings of the board. Reasonable expenses may beallowed to members of the township board when actually incurred on behalf of the township.

    Reply
    1. foulkrj Post author

      Bob,
      Thank you, I was wrong to say that Supervisor Gonser receives compensation for attending meetings.

      Reply
    1. foulkrj Post author

      The Board of Trustees has been conducting a search for a replacement for Superintendent Jim Creech for the several months since he notified them of his intent to leave at the end of the year but Trustee Thalmann’s remarks in the video suggest that they are considering other plans. Jim’s title was Superintendent and the Board had approved a resolution to delegate all the duties ( a. through o. above) to him. The Board has a lot of latitude here. They could:
      1. Hire a person to fill exactly the same role as Jim’s by delegating all powers to the new hire.
      2. Hire a Manager or Superintendent to fill a smaller role than Jim’s by delegating fewer duties.
      3. Allow Supervisor Gonser to keep all the duties that he has now inherited. In this case Mr. Gonser would probably receive an increase from his current $13,000 salary. In this case he might choose to hire a Deputy Supervisor to work under his direction.
      Any of these decisions must be made in an open meeting.
      The Board should discuss their alternatives and decide on a plan forward in open meeting before taking any action at all. The hiring interviews must also be done in an open meeting.

      Reply
  5. John Sanderson

    Funny thing is that the “problems” all stem from supporters of the previous regime & a developer. Coincidence? It doesn’t look like it…

    Reply
    1. Alan

      Hello, John. Would you care to expound a little bit on your comment for the benefit of the rest of us? Are you saying that the previous regime and a developer are causing problems for the current board? Or are you saying that the previous regime and the developer are butting heads? And for the record: what developer? Please advise. Thanks!

      Reply

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