A “behind the curtains” view of Oakland Township

A recent recording of a conversation between the Township Clerk and a Trustee gives some insight into how our Township Board continues to operate “behind the curtain” of secrecy.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is investigating whether our Township Board’s recent actions on the Mill Race Project violated the Open Meetings Act.

Details on both of these topics are included in this post.

DECEMBER 10TH COMMENTS PRIOR TO BOARD MEETING

Prior to the December 10 Oakland Township Board meeting,  a discussion between Clerk Reilly and Trustee McKay was recorded and posted on the Township website. Trustee McKay expresses concern over the lack of content in the Closed Session minutes.  She is familiar with what the previous Board and Township Attorney had approved.  This change in record keeping has been approved by our new Attorney as stated by Clerk Reilly in the video.  Here is the video of that conversation:

This recorded conversation gives some insight into how our new Board operates and gives them the cover of secrecy for behind the scenes decisions.  The following incident supports that statement.  It is currently part of an investigation by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department into alleged Open Meeting Act violations by our Board.

POSSIBLE OPEN MEETING ACT VIOLATION

A recent decision by our Board to move the Engineering work for the Mill Race from Wade Trim to ECT began during discussions that occurred in a September 24th Closed Session. The decision to have Wade Trim share Engineering data and possibly engage ECT on the Mill Race project was not discussed or voted on in public.  The Supervisor gave direction to the Superintendent without official Board approval after the September 24th Closed Session meeting.

The evidence of these assertions occurred at the October 8th Board meeting.  Here is a video of excerpts of the October 8th Board meeting:

In the October 8th meeting:

  • Trustee Keyes points out that she objected to the proceedings that were taking place at the September 24th Closed Session meeting, since they were not what was stated on the posted agenda. September 24, 2013 Special Meeting Notice
  • Trustee Keyes indicates that she refused to sign the minutes of that Special Meeting, because the minutes did not reflect what actually occurred.
  • Trustee Thalmann confirms that a decision had been made to have Wade Trim share data.  She realized later that her statement was a violation of the OMA, and tries to explain how a decision had not been made.

This is yet another example of an Open Meeting Act violation by our Board.  Here are the reasons this action violates the Open Meetings Act:

  • The reasons given for having the meeting on the posted agenda were not the same as the discussion that actually occur in the Closed Sessions. September 24, 2013 Special Meeting Notice
  • There was never a vote in open session to authorize the sharing of the data between Wade Trim and ECT.
  • A decision to have Wade Trim ‘share data” with ECT was not disclosed in the Open Meeting after the Closed Session.

One of the reasons Trustee Keyes resigned a few weeks later was because of the pattern of Board behavior that she saw while “behind the curtain”.

It appears that only through a Court decision that Open Meeting Act violations DID occur will our Board recognize that their behavior is illegal and more than the “baseless” actions as claimed by Trustee Thalmann!

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The ongoing disregard by the Board to follow the Open Meetings Act requirements places all of us at risk if we are not allowed to participate in the decisions that affect us.  The Open Meeting Act laws were created to protect citizens from unbridled government behavior.

Richard Michalski

3 thoughts on “A “behind the curtains” view of Oakland Township

    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      I can think of a few:

      1. The new Board has implemented the On Line Video recording of Township meetings.
      2. The new Board has improved the Township’s official website.
      3. They have recently made burning permits available on line for free.

      Reply

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