Daily Archives: January 24, 2014

“State of the Township” or “Self aggrandizement”? You decide!

On January 22, as reported previously, Oakland Township had a “State of the Township” event at the Township Hall.  It was sponsored by Supervisor Gonser.  Here are some facts regarding this event:

  • The event was not publicly announced by the Township until after this website made it known to the public on January 16th.
  • The Township posted the event on January 21st – a little  more than 24 hours before the event.
  • On January 20th, at a Republican Precinct Captain meeting chaired by our Township Clerk’s husband, John Reilly, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he had invited 190 people to this event, and there would be limited seating.
  • One of the 4 Parks Commission members present at that meeting asked why ALL of the members of the Parks, Planning and Zoning Commissions/Board members were not invited to the event, Gonser said:

    “I chose not to invite them.”

  • When asked why a location that could accommodate more people was not chosen, so all interest citizens could attend, Gonser said:

    ” There is no particular reason to move it.  “

  • When asked why he had not announced the event to the public at the January 15th Board meeting, Gonser said:

    “I did not feel compelled to announce it.”

  • At the event, there were approximately 90 seats “reserved” for the invited guests – all at the front of the room.
  • There were only 26 seats available for uninvited residents – all at the back of the room.
  • Even though there was available seating in the ‘reserved’ section, many of the ‘invited’ guests sat in the uninvited resident seating area – further reducing the seating available to others.
  • Hors d’oeuvres were available in the entry area.
  • The ‘invited’ guests had name tags prepared for them.  There were no blank name tags available for the other citizens.
  • Even though the Township website did not indicate that the event would broadcast live or recorded, CMNtv did provide that service. (You can watch the whole event by visiting the Township website.)
  • When I asked the Executive Director of CMNtv when the request to record and televise the event was made, he told me “within the past week”.  (Note that there was no public knowledge of the event until this website posted information on it, one week prior to the event.)
  • On January 22nd, prior to the event beginning, Supervisor Gonser confronted the author of this post in the Board room stating ‘no recording devices will be allowed’.  When I stated it is a public event, he responded ‘No! It is not!’.  When I tried to get him to repeat those statements on camera, he refused (see his response in the attached video).
  • The total time of the event was approximately 45 minutes.
  • Dr. Atallah’s initial introductory comments lasted approximately 2 minutes.
  • Pastor Dominic Russo spoke for slightly more than 3 minutes about the need for civility in dealing with one another even though there may be differences of opinion in the Township.  He also gave a short invocation.
  • Dr. Atallah got up again and spoke for approximately 6 minutes on why he supported Supervisor Gonser, and went over Gonser’s resume.
  • Gonser spent about 12 minutes making introductions, talking about his “humble beginnings” and why he got involved in politics.
  • He then talked about the accomplishments that he and the Township Board have made in the areas of: Transparency, Technology and Customer Satisfaction.  The slides he used on these items are shown in the video attached below.
  • He then stated that he believes Oakland Township is the only municipality in the State that had a reduction in taxes.  (This reduction is $100 in taxes for a house with a taxable value of $100,000 or a market value of $200,000).
  • He concluded by saying the “Future is Bright” for Oakland Township, and discussed the things he intends to accomplish in the future. (The slide is included in attached video.)

A Freedom of Information Act request was made last week on several items regarding this event.  The requested item and the response received from our Township are shown below.  

Request: The list of names Supervisor Gonser sent electronic invitation to for this event.

Response: The list is personal property kept in a personal computer and contains private information of citizens provided personally.

Request: A copy of the invoice for the invitation services used by Supervisor Gonser for the individual invitations sent out by “evite postmark”.

Response: There is no public record.   The cost was paid from a personal account.

Request: A copy of the invoice for the refreshments for the Event.

Response: There is no public record.  All food was provided at no cost to the Township.

I plan on appealing the Township’s response to the first item.

Some additional comments on the invitation list and the content of the “State of the Township” presentation.

  • It is disappointing that Gonser did not invite ALL of the members of the other significant elected body in the Township – The Parks Commission.
  • He only invited the new Parks Commission members that campaigned on the same platform that he ran on.
  • Many of the financial contributors to Gonser’s campaign were present at the event.
  • There were absolutely no comments on either Parks, or Paths and Trailways in his ‘State of the Township’ address.  These items are of significant importance to many residents as confirmed through surveys.
  • There was no mention of the legal issues facing our Township: The Blossom Ridge Federal investigation by the Department of Justice, the two lawsuits relating to funds the Township has collected from developers and some home owners for connecting to the Detroit Water System, the criminal investigation into Open Meeting Act violations by our Board and also the appeal regarding the civil lawsuit regarding FOIA and OMA violations by the Township.

Here is a video of on the event as described above:

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  It appears that this event was not intended to really be open to the citizens of Oakland Township.  Yet, Gonser is claiming to be “transparent”. Please form your own opinion as to whether his intentions for having this event was to “inform” the public, or build his political base for any future political aspirations while using Township facilities.

Richard Michalski