Monthly Archives: November 2013

Treasurer Langlois announces monthly Public Safety Path and Trails meeting

PLEASE ATTEND DECEMBER 4TH MEETING IF YOU HAVE INTEREST IN

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP SAFETY PATHS AND TRAILS!

At the end of the November 20 Board of Oakland Township meeting, Treasurer Langlois announced that there will be a monthly Safety Path and Trails meeting open to the public.  She announced that the first of these meeting will take place on December 4th at 7:00 PM at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  

Langlois indicated that the group is in the formative stages, but she invited all interested residents to participate in the meeting.  This group will provide direction on how the Safety Path and Trails fund moneys will be used to add to  and improve the Trails and Paths in our Township.

 A copy of the 2010 Safety Path and Trails Master Plan is attached for your information, as well as the 2011/2012 High Priority Trails and Path Segments plan.

Trails Master Plan – 2010

Trails High Priority – 2011/2012

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ announcement.

Richard Michalski

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  As some of you may recall, earlier this year, there was a very contentious issue among residents and the Township Board regarding a trail that had been proposed along Adams Road.  That plan was rejected.  This committee will work diligently to ensure that similar issues do not occur in the future.  Oakland Township is famous for our Paths and Trails.  Your participation will insure our Paths and Trails continue to be the envy of other communities.

Supervisor Gonser “oversteps” his authority once again!

Please read the attached article published in the Oakland Press on November 26, 2013.  It reflects yet another example of how Supervisor Gonser makes decisions without Board approval.  

Supervisor Gonser announced that Jim Creech would not be “coming back” to work days before obtaining any authority from the Board to terminate his employment with the Township.  Here is one paragraph from the article:

“Creech said in a memo that Gonser called township staff together Oct. 14, two days before the board directed the township attorney to negotiate a separation agreement, and told them Creech wouldn’t be returning.”

Here is the link to the Oakland Press article:

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/government-and-politics/20131126/conflicting-views-emerge-on-former-oakland-township-superintendents-departure

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The continued authoritarian style of Supervisor Gonser is not what the citizens of Oakland Township desire in our leadership.  Township Employment decisions are the purview of the Board NOT the Supervisor!

Richard Michalski

Gonser Defeated on Another Pet Trail Project

Nov 22, 2013.  Supervisor Gonser had previously (July 29 2013) announced a trail project that I dubbed his “Good News Trail”.  That project was unbuildable because of the terrain.  It was clear that he had not looked at the land before deciding to build it and we have heard nothing of it since.  At Wednesday’s Board meeting he tried again, asking the Board to approve a sidewalk to connect the planned pedestrian  crosswalk on the replacement bridge on Orion Road with the Paint Creek Cider Mill parking lot.  His documentation for the project was a sketch drawing with few dimensions.  The estimate was not included in the information provided to the Board.  This plan had never been seen by either the Planning Commission or the Trails Committee.  2013_11_20 BOT Trail Sketch

The Board of Trustees indicated dissatisfaction with the plan.

Treasurer Langlois “I don’t know if this is the right place for this trail” 

Trustee Buxar  “You are putting Pedestrians and cars awfully close here”

Trustee McKay “Where does it go?  It ends at the bridge!  Where do the people start?”

Supervisor Gonser sees  where this is going and blames Federal Government safety regulations.

Let’s review Gonser’s accomplishments on trails and safety paths:

  1. He kills (by deliberate inaction) the $1.1million in approved grant funding for the Adams Rd. Safety Path.
  2. He proclaims the unbuildable “Good News” trail. (see the first paragraph)
  3. He spends Parks and Trails funds on engineering work for a parking lot because he wants to get it done really fast.   All that work needs to be re-done.
  4. He appoints a person to the planning commission and tells him that it would be ok to ask to join the Trails Committee so he can pursue the idea of using taxpayer money to repair safety paths  owned by his subdivision.
  5. And now this, an ill thought out sidewalk proposal that goes nowhere and has serious safety concerns.

The Trails Committee will have a public meeting Dec. 4th at 7PM at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  This will begin their practice of having public meetings.  Anyone who is concerned about the fate of the tax money that we are paying into the Safety Paths and Trails Millage should attend.

Jim Foulkrod

Trustees reject Supervisor Gonser’s desire to become a “Strong Supervisor”

At the November 20, 2013 Board of Oakland Township meeting, the Board agreed to proceed with the selection process to fill the Superintendent vacancy created by Jim Creech’s departure.  The responsibilities of the Superintendent will continue to be based on Ordinance 97. The vote was 5 to 1.  Supervisor Gonser was the single dissenting vote. Supervisor Gonser had desired to eliminate the Superintendent position, have the Board authorize him to assume some of the Superintendent’s responsibilities, making him a “Strong Supervisor”.  A Manager position  would be created to pick up the remaining responsibilities.   

The Board was considering a suggestion, previously made by Trustee Thalmann, to have Supervisor Gonser assume some of the responsibilities that our previous Superintendent, Jim Creech had based on Ordinance 97.  That structure had been in effect since 2002.  The Superintendent responsibilities, “A” through “O”, are called out in the Ordinance.

Ordinance 97

If this recommendation had been approved, the Superintendent position would be eliminated, a Manager Position would likely be created and Supervisor Gonser would have additional power in running the Township. Oakland Township would be under what is referred to as as “Strong Supervisor” Township.

Supervisor Gonser had invited the Supervisors from Orion, Addison and Independence Townships to the past two meetings to describe how their Townships operate under the “Strong Supervisor” structure.  There were many questions asked of them by Board members and citizens.

Treasurer Langlois reviewed the responsibilities in Ordinance 97, and concluded that those responsibilities were all administrative, and did not see any reason to move to a “Strong Supervisor” structure.  She stated that the selection process for a replacement for Jim Creech needs to proceed, and saw nothing wrong with the Superintendent position continuing to retain the responsibilities defined in Ordinance 97.

Here is her justification for her motion, and the vote by the Board:

Trustee Thalmann was not present at the meeting, and Supervisor Gonser made several attempts to have the vote deferred to some future meeting when she would be present.  A number of citizens supported having the vote take place that evening. One of the reasons given for proceeding with the vote was that the Township had reviewed a number of resumes of candidates that had submitted applications for the Superintendent position.  Proceeding with interviews, not knowing what the individual’s responsibilities would be was a major factor in making the decision now.  There was a strong feeling that the position needed to be filled quickly.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  By keeping the position of Superintendent, and selecting a qualified person, the Township will have a person that has the professional background to make a municipality run efficiently.  It also provides a level of stability that is needed when Board member changes occur.  The Board’s strength is retained by not having the Supervisor become too strong and possibly abuse his/her power.  See the following post on recent actions by Supervisor Gonser.

Supervisor Gonser’s Actions

 

Richard Michalski

Strong Evidence that an Open Meetings Violation Occurred Nov 20th

In my post yesterday I outlined how it appeared that the Board was likely to commit a violation of the Open Meetings Act when they went into a closed session to review resumes for the Township Superintendent position.  I had planned to speak during ‘citizens comments’ prior to the closed session to try to prevent this from happening by reminding them that The Open Meetings Act  says that:

 “it is permissible to go into closed session To review and consider the contents of an application for employment or appointment to a public office if the candidate requests that the application remain confidential.”

Unfortunately they had changed the agenda so that citizens comments were not allowed before the closed session.  During the rest of the open meeting an audience member commented the Board had received 30 resumes. Treasurer Langois said they had reviewed “many many” resumes in the closed session.  I took the opportunity to give them a “heads-up” about the potential problem during citizens comments near the end of the meeting.

Note that Supervisor Gonser replied “The resumes requested confidentiality under the law.”  I asked if every one requested confidentiality and he replied “I’m not going to say every one because I can’t speak to that.”.

Now the Board understands that  if one or more oversights did occur they have the simple remedy of re-doing their reviews of any resume where the applicant did not request that their application remain confidential in open session.   I hope that they will double check their records and, if they made any mistakes,  they admit them and correct them.

This is not trivial. This part of the Open Meetings Act was enacted so that we could know what our government is doing.  Our Board of Trustees is already facing two legal actions that allege violations of this Michigan statute and they need to  act accordingly

Jim Foulkrod

An Open Meetings Act violation may occur Wednesday, Nov. 20

Item 7 on the Agenda for the Board of Trustees special meeting scheduled for 5PM Wednesday, Nov. 20th is:

CLOSED SESSION: Board will go into closed session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations with the Township’s labor attorney and for the purpose of reviewing resumes received for the vacant Township Superintendent position.

The Open Meetings Act  says that it is permissible to go into closed session

To review and consider the contents of an application for employment or appointment to a public office if the candidate requests that the application remain confidential. However, all interviews by a public body for employment or appointment to a public office shall be held in an open meeting pursuant to this act.

To assure compliance with this part of the law I think it would be a good idea for the Board’s motion to go into closed session to specify, without qualification, that every applicant for Superintendent whose resume or application they will review in closed session has communicated their personal request that their application remain confidential.

Jim Foulkrod

Can we trust Supervisor Gonser with more authority?

 The Oakland Township Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 20th has an agenda item where the Board will continue their discussion regarding the responsibilities of the  Supervisor and/or Superintendent/Manager.  This discussion is very important to the Township, since their decision will have a significant impact on how our Township is governed and managed in the future.  The discussion centers around whether Supervisor Gonser should permanently assume more of the responsibilities for managing our Township that he has temporarily assumed since our former Superintendent is no longer employed by Oakland Township.  

The Open Meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 PM.  Citizen participation may influence the Board’s decision on this critical matter.  Please attend and provide your input if you can.

Here is some background information on this matter:

  • Our Township has been managed for the past 15 years with an elected Supervisor and a hired Superintendent.
  • The day to day management of the Township Office has been performed by the Superintendent.
  • The responsibilities of the Superintendent are defined by Ordinance #97 which was adopted on 2-26-2002.
  • A copy of the Ordinance 97 is shown here:   Ordinance 97
  • Earlier this year, the Board hired a firm to find an individual to replace Jim Creech, who had been the Superintendent for the Township since 1998.
  • In October of this year Jim Creech signed a separation agreement with the Township, and is no longer employed by the Township.
  • The Board has recently suggested that the responsibilities that the Superintendent had (under Ordinance #97) be reviewed to determine if the elected Supervisor should assume more of those responsibilities.
  • If the Supervisor assumes some of those responsibilities, the Superintendent position would be eliminated, and a Manager position would be established to assume the remaining responsibilities.
  • The Township has received resumes from individuals interested in the Superintendent position.
  • The Board will be reviewing the resumes during the 5:00 PM Closed Session Meeting on November 20 (prior to the 7:30  PM Open Session).
  • Since the responsibilities of the position were posted based on Ordinance #97, the applicants may not be interested in the position if the responsibilities are significantly reduced by the Board.

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  Having a full time Superintendent provides stability to the community.  The elected officials can come and go with every election. Having a good long-term Superintendent prevents a disruption of critical services when a Board change occurs.

During Supervisor Gonser’s 12 months in office, he has demonstrated an authoritarian style that one citizen had characterized as “dictatorial”.  Here are several examples of Gonser’s authoritarian or ‘dictatorial”  behavior (with links to previous posts on this website):

–  His definition of transparency ( letter was obtained through FOIA request.)

“While I am for transparency, there are policy decisions and strategies that must not be shared until after they have come to fruition. —-  I think we have to be careful as to what we circulate in emails.  Phone calls may be in order.”  –  Terry Gonser to Treasurer Langlois – April 6, 2013

Supervisor Gonser’s definition of transparency in government

– His decision to vote on an issue for which he personally benefited.

Supervisor Gonser’s conflict of interest vote

– His decision to proceed to obtain an Attorney General Opinion on a matter the Board had previously rescinded.  He made statement that he sent a letter “as an individual”, when he actually sent the letter 8 DAYS LATER – attempting to “cover his tracks”!  

Supervisor Gonser’s request for Attorney General opinion

– His decision to take over the Land Preservation Fund from the Parks Commission without Board approval.

 Gonser takes over Land Preservation fund without Board approval

– His participation in an alleged Open Meetings Act violation regarding the Paint Creek Cider Mill Concessionaire’s agreement that is being investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Dept.

Gonser’s role in open Meetings Act violation?

– His belief in a UN conspiracy theory called “Agenda 21”, and his unwillingness to explain his position on this position in public.

Gonser’s belief in a United Nation’s Conspiracy

– His decision to request, as Township Supervisor, legislative changes in Lansing regarding “Agenda 21” items without support from the Board.

Gonser requests legislative change without Board approval

– His decision to propose a trail near the Paint Creek Cider Mill that had significant grade issues prior to any engineering assessment.

Gonser’s trail commitment to Road Commission without any background study on feasibility or Board approval

– His decision to replace several Board/ Commission members without telling the previous Board/ Commission members their terms were up or asking them if they were interested in reappointment.

Gonser hears from former Zoning Board of appeals members

– His decision to authorize work being done on a Park Parcel without any agreement from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Gonser’s abuse of power by authorizing work on Parkland without Park and Recreation Commission approval

– His method of attacking Trustee Keyes, who had repeatedly challenged Gonser on several of the issues described above.

Gonser’s attacks Trustee Keyes for doing her job

– His abuse of ‘power’ in how Jim Creech’s employment was terminated.

Gonser makes announcement without Board authorization

These actions demonstrate a leadership style that Oakland Township cannot afford to formalize by giving him more authority.  With more authority, he will be making more decisions “behind the scenes” with little or no citizen or consultant input. Please attend the November 20 meeting to provide your input, as well as any future meeting with this agenda topic.

Richard Michalski