Monthly Archives: May 2014

UPDATE: Oakland Township Board (CORRECTION – SUPERVISOR GONSER) potentially commits $431,875 of Township funds to improve private property outside ANY public meeting

At the May 13, 2014 Board of Oakland Township meeting, ECT, an engineering firm that has been working with our Township Board to get water flowing in the Paint Creek Cider millrace, gave a presentation on the status of their efforts. As previously reported on this website, on January 24, 2014, ECT submitted a request for regional support for a grant submittal that included over $400,000 of Township funds for the project. A portion of those funds would have been for improvements to private property. During questioning,  SUPERVISOR GONSER ADMITTED THAT HE HAD MADE THE REQUEST TO HAVE ECT SUBMIT THE REQUEST.   His request was NEVER REVIEWED OR DISCUSSED IN A PUBLIC MEETING! This is yet another example of our Supervisor making unilateral decision outside the public’s view.

After ECT made their presentation, the author of this post wanted to ask several questions. Supervisor Gonser was initially not willing to let me ask questions.  He ultimately allowed the questions.  Here are the questions and the answers provided:

  1. Who authorized the January submission to the CRWC and PAC?

After some delay in getting a clear answer from the ECR rep, Supervisor Gonser finally responded “The Supervisor specifically!”

  1. Under what authority was it submitted?

The answer was never provided, however, the ECT rep indicated that the letter was not a grant submittal.  He went on to explain that the January letter was submitted to determine if the Clinton River AOC (area of concern) PAC (public advisory council) would endorse an official grant request later. He indicated that the AOC PAC did not support this project, and “that was the end of it”.

The lack of a direct answer to this question indicates that there was no ‘”authority” for making this request.  The Township would have been in a very embarrassing position, if the PAC agreed to support the request only to have it later rejected by the Board based on citizen input during a public meeting.  The Township request wasted the time of the 25 member community representatives that are part of the PAC.


  1. Why do you feel it is appropriate to spend public funds on private property?

Once again, the question was not answered. When I mentioned that funds would include improvements on private property, Gonser said “I think that is a leap of faith that is simply untrue.”  The ECT rep said to me  – “You are right!” (that the letter included costs for improvement on private property because it included costs for the stream bank and the millrace.)

As stated by the ECT rep, the actual dollar amounts could change dramatically, however, it is not “a leap of faith” that public funds would be used on private property.  The submitted request explicitly stated so.


  1. Why did you feel it was not necessary to obtain citizen input, in a public meeting, on this proposal prior to submission to the Clinton River Watershed Council?

The Supervisor did not answer this question, he told me that my time was up.

Stay Tuned as more information will be posted as it becomes available.

Here is a copy of the January letter submitting the project for review:

ECT request on behalf of Oakland Township

Here is a video of the May 13 meeting proceedings:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Having our Supervisor make an implicit commitment for spending tax dollars on a project that includes improvement to private property WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OR DISCUSSION is totally inappropriate and exceeds the Supervisor’s authority.  By wasting the time of the 25 member community representatives, reviewing our Township’s proposal, certainly does not help our Township’s credibility on future grant submissions. We may never know what damage has been done in getting the other communities support on future projects.

Hills of Oakland Bailout – Old Promises, New Threats

On Wednesday, May 8th I was interviewed by the Safety Paths and Trails Committee regarding my application to serve on that committee.  The committee members Alice Tomboulian and Ron Hein were present. Committee member Treasurer Langlois joined the meeting by phone and Township Manager Ann Capela was also present.

Ron is President of the Hills of Oakland subdivision homeowners association.   At the 10/1/13 Planning Commission meeting Mr. Ron Hein, then a  Planning Commissioner newly appointed by Supervisor Gonser and the Board, volunteered to serve on the Township Safety Paths and Trails Committee saying “I have a little bit of a vested interest in this.”

Early in the interview Ron asked if I was still opposed to using trails millage money to maintain the Safety Paths that are owned by the Hills of Oakland subdivision.   When I responded saying that I had not changed my mind we began a discussion during which Hein said:

  • the Hills of Oakland does not have the money to maintain their safety paths;
  • they have no legal obligation to maintain their safety paths;
  • “We could just let them turn to dirt.”

There was no objection to these statements from Treasurer Langlois or Manager Capela.

Ron Hein as President of the Hills of Oakland Subdivision Association is charged on page 1 of their Declaration Of Restrictions with the responsibility of “promoting the recreation, health, safety and welfare of the residents”.  That Mr. Hein would propose in a public meeting where he represents the Planning Commission that safety paths in use by the public could be allowed to deteriorate, develop cracks and holes, expose tree roots, become unsafe, crumble and eventually “turn to dirt”, is cause for alarm.

In October he told us why he wanted a seat on the trails committee (his “vested interest”).  Now he has told us about the level of concern he has for community safety.

The idea that our trails millage money could be used by subdivision homeowners associations was first proposed in the form of a campaign promise made by now Supervisor Terry Gonser during the run up to the Aug. 2012 Primary Election.

So we, voters and taxpayers, see our new leadership in action, fulfilling their campaign promises.  If we don’t pony up our money to bail out the residents of the Hills of Oakland Subdivision they threaten to allow their publicly used safety paths to “turn to dirt”.

Are you concerned yet?

Jim Foulkrod

Supervisor Gonser violates Board Bylaws and Mrs. Keyes right to speak


Voltaire quote



At the May 13, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser unilaterally made a decision that violated the recently approved bylaws regarding citizen comments during Public Board meetings.  By doing so, he violated former Trustee, Judy Keyes’ right to speak.  He did not allow her to speak during the second “Public Comment” portion of the agenda, even though the bylaws specifically allow for residents to comment during the first and second “Public Comment” agenda items.

During the first Public Comment agenda item, former Trustee Judy Keyes pointed out that the Supervisor has been inconsistent in applying the rules during public comment. She stated:

“Over the past many months, Chairman Gonser has allowed certain individuals to stand at this podium to name call, slander businesses, make disparaging statements about other residents and even direct residents to stand up or sit down to show how they stood on a particular agenda item. All of this has been allowed, as many videos have now documented, with no intervention from Mr. Gonser.”

She went on to say:

“I am humbly and respectfully asking that Chairperson Gonser and the entire Board protect my Constitutional right to free speech without fear of intimidation, threats or slander and that your directives for citizen comments be equally enforced, and equally applied to all citizens, and that this be done not only by Chairman Gonser, but also the entire Board if he fails to do so, as you all swore to uphold the Constitution and the right to free speech, in it’s intending form.”

Later in the meeting, during the second public comment agenda item, Supervisor Gonser announced that only citizens who had not spoken during the first public comment portion would be allowed to speak.  THIS IS A DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE BYLAWS THAT THE BOARD HAD RECENTLY APPROVED AND AMENDED ON MARCH 25, 2014.

When Judy Keyes approached the podium, he would not allow her to make another public statement.  Supervisor Gonser said:

“You will not speak unless the Supervisor and Chairperson gives you an opportunity to speak!”

When Judy Keyes challenged his decision, since it violates the Oakland Township Board bylaws, Supervisor Gonser said:

“That is the standing operating procedures for all surrounding communities!”

Judy Keyes’ final comment was:

“I have more information that Supervisor Gonser does not want to get out!”

Gonser responded by threatening:

“Mrs. Keyes, don’t push the buttons!”

None of the Trustees challenged Gonser’s decision!!!!

Here is a copy of the applicable section of the approved bylaws. (click on image for larger view)

Excerpt from Oakland Township Board Bylaws

It explicitly states:


Here is a video of what transpired during the May 13th meeting.

Two citizens pointed out to Supervisor Gonser that he violated the Board’s bylaws.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Supervisor Gonser made a unilateral decision to not allow citizens to comment during the second citizen comment portion of the meeting if they had commented during the first public comment portion.  THIS DECISION IS IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE APPROVED BYLAWS GOVERNING BOARD MEETINGS!  This decision violated Judy Keyes right to speak.  Unfortunately, none of the Board Members were willing to challenge Gonser’s decision.

Supervisor Gonser continues to feel he has the power to make decisions for which he does not have the authority.  Not following the bylaws is a clear indication of his respect for ‘the rule of law”.  Just because he discovered other communities may not allow citizens to make more than one public comment during a Board meeting, does not give him the authority to change the rules on how Oakland Township is governed.

It is also amazing, but unfortunately not surprising, that Supervisor Gonser violated Judy Keyes’ right of speech in the same meeting where she asked that both he, and the Board, protect her right to free speech .

It is absolutely amazing that the Board did not challenge him on this decision.  Are the citizens of Oakland Township really blind to what is going on in our Township? If you find his behavior reprehensible, please start getting involved, or at least send emails to other Board members encouraging them to stand up to him!

Richard Michalski

To review related topic:

Board refuses to sign ‘Principles of Governance’ Pledge



Supervisor Gonser attempts to influence Planning Commission’s Master Plan

At the May 6, 2014  Oakland Township Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Ron Hein announced that he met with Supervisor Gonser and Gonser wants to provide a Strategy document that the Planning Commission was to use in developing the Long Range Vision for the Township in terms of Planning and Development.  Planning Commission chair, James Carter, pointed out that the Planning Commission has the legal responsibility for developing the Master Plan not the Township Board.

At the May 6th meeting, Ron Hein said:

“He (Gonser) wants to formulate a strategy document that will be a long range vision for the Township in terms of Planning and Development. . . . . It would let him give some guidance to the Master Plan Development in terms of land use and future development.”

Chair Carter responded by pointing out that the Master Plan is the responsibility of the Planning Commission and not the Township Board.  He went on to say:

“These people (the Planning Commission members) are educated in Planning.  The Board has clearly illustrated that they are not.”

Here is a video of that discussion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This is yet another example of Supervisor Gonser’s attempt to totally control the Township.  The Master Plan development process is a lengthy one that involves getting input from the many diverse citizens of Oakland Township. Having the Supervisor provide his ‘strategic’ input implies that his vision (or the Board’s if he gathered their input) is more valuable than that of the citizens.  The Planning Commission members take training in the many aspects of planning, the Township Board does not.

Historically, the Master Plan development has been a very ‘open’ and ‘visible’ process that allows the citizens to help create the future ‘vision’ of our community.  Gonser’s attempt to influence the process diminishes the importance of broad citizen involvement.  Gonser appears to think he is ‘omniscient’.  His actions confirm that he thinks he is ‘omnipotent’.

As existing Planning Commission member’s tenure comes to an end. Gonser and the Board will have opportunities to appoint people that will ‘bow to’ Supervisor Gonser’s wishes.  The diverse opinions that our Township encouraged and used in making decisions may come to an end.

Richard Michalski – Former Planning Commission member for 26 years

Here are some related articles:

Supervisor Gonser demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Oakland Township Zoning

Did Supervisor Gonser try to mislead the citizens, or was he ignorant of the facts?

Zoning? – Gonser Doesn’t Understand our Master Plan Either.

Character of Oakland Township would change dramatically if Zoning Board of Appeals member has his way

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection



Oakland Township Board potentially commits $431,875 of Township funds to improve private property outside ANY public meeting

On January 24, 2014, the Oakland Township Board submitted a proposal that would commit $431,875 of Township funds as part of a proposed Grant application for funds to restore the Millrace at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  This proposal was never discussed or disclosed in any public meeting. A portion of this money would be spent on improving the millrace that exists on private property.  This is yet another action our Township Board has taken that may have violated the Open Meetings Act.  It may have been another unilateral decision made by our Supervisor to proceed on a project outside the ‘public eye’.  A request has been made to the Oakland County Sheriff’s office for further investigation on this matter as a possible Open Meeting Act violation.

Several years ago there was a project supported by the DNR, the Clinton River Watershed Council and Oakland Township to remove the Paint Creek Dam to allow fish passage and improve the natural habitat in Paint Creek.  The dam historically diverted a portion of Paint Creek’s water to the Millrace that powered the water wheel at the Paint Creek Cider Mill.  The removal of the dam, as well as the sediment that had built up over many years, now prevent water from flowing down the millrace to the Cider Mill.  A significant portion of the millrace land is owned by private citizens.  The Township has been attempting to find a solution to get water flowing back through the millrace to get the Cider Mill wheel turning again.

In reviewing the minutes of previous meetings, the Township Board never officially made a motion to establish a subcommittee to work on this project.  However, Supervisor Gonser, Trustee Bailey and Trustee Buxar apparently worked as an ad hoc committee on this project.

Originally, the Township used the Engineering services of Wade Trim on this project.  The Board later changed the Engineering firm to ECT (Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc.).  On January 24, 2014, John O’Meara P.E., from ECT, submitted a proposal for a grant application to the Clinton River Watershed Council for their consideration on behalf of Oakland Township. The proposal was then forwarded to the Michigan DNR for their consideration.

The total cost for the project is $863,750.  Oakland Township’s portion for this project is $431,875.

There were no public meetings or public discussions regarding the Township committing over $400,000 for this project.  At the April 22, 2014 BOT meeting, Supervisor Gonser indicated that there was no need for a public announcement.

ECT will be making a presentation at the May 13, 2014 BOT meeting where this project will now be discussed.  We expect our Board to provide answers to:

  • why they did not feel it necessary to obtain citizen input on this proposal prior to submission to the Clinton River Watershed Council,
  • who authorized the request be submitted, and
  • why they feel it is appropriate to spend public funds on private property.

Here is a copy of the grant request and the associated letters:

ECT request on behalf of Oakland Township

Here is a video of comments from Trustee Buxar, Trustee Bailey and Supervisor Gonser regarding the ECT submission.  Please take note of Supervisor Gonser’s comment that a public notice for the meeting discussing this proposal was not necessary:

Correspondence from Board members after the April 22nd meeting occurred.  Treasurer Langlois responded by saying:

“Not revealing this (the grant request) does not help citizens and does not meet my definition of transparency”

Trustee Buxar responded by saying:

“I was not informed of this until after the correspondence with the Clinton River Water Council.  I believe this matter was handled by the Supervisor.  The only matter discussed by the subcommittee were the SAW grant applications that were approved by the Board in November.”

So did the ad hoc subcommittee discuss this proposal and approve it outside the public eye, or did Supervisor Gonser make a unilateral decision to submit the proposal?  In any case, our Township leadership is acting either illegally or inappropriately.  Supervisor Gonser’s comment that the discussion did not need to take place in a publicly noticed meeting is yet another display of his arrogance and dictatorial leadership style. It is consistent with his previous definition of transparency.  (Click on link to read his previous statement)

Supervisor Gonser and the members of the ad hoc committee may claim that they were only trying to determine if the various approval groups (CRWC – Clinton RIver Watershed Council, Public Advisory Council (PAC) and DNR) would support the requested grant request.  This approach is contrary to the procedure for submitting a grant request according to the CRWC. The PAC is a 25 community member advisory council for the Clinton River Watershed area. The DNR is the State agency that controls the rivers and streams in our State.  Asking those groups to “weigh in” on their support prior to obtaining the requesting community’s agreement to pay for the improvements on private property is outside the process. Besides, why would you ask for support for a grant request before you ask the citizens of the Township if it is appropriate to spend tax dollars on private property improvements?  Only in Oakland Township!

Last year at a Board meeting on another subject, Supervisor Gosner commented:

In an email he sent to Board members last year, he said;

“While I am for transparency, there are policy decisions and strategies that must not be shared until after they have come to fruition.” 

So it appears Supervisor Gonser uses “process” as a defense to not do something he does not want to do, but uses his definition of “transparency” to do things he wants to get done outside the public eye.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Having the Supervisor, or an ad hoc Board committee, develop and submit a proposal that would cost the Township over $400,000 outside any public meeting is inappropriate and possibly illegal.  Supervisor Gosner’s denial of any wrongdoing in previous Open Meeting Act violation investigations indicate that the Board is not willing to change their behavior and listen to the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office reprimands.

Since much of the potential cost for this project would be on private property, why would our Supervisor feel that it was not necessary to disclose the cost to the citizens in an Open Meeting?  Is it because some of the benefactors of this proposal were contributors to his campaign?

The citizens of Oakland Township need to understand what is occurring in our Township and demand the ‘transparency’ that Gonser claims to be providing.

Please attend the May 13th Board meeting to hear how the Board justifies their behavior.

Please review the following previous posts regarding similar actions by our Board and Supervisor Gonser.

 Supervisor Gonser’s definition of “transparency”

Another Open Meeting Act violation being investigated by Oakland County

Supervisor Gonser’s request for Attorney General Opinion

Gonser’s actions define his leadership style

Another Open Meeting Act violation or dictatorship in Oakland Township?

Gonser denies any wrongdoing – Prosecutor’s letter tells another story


Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser announces Township plans for water treatment and water storage facilities

At the April 8, 2014 Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser announced that plans are beginning for water treatment and water storage facilities in Oakland Township.  According to Gonser, the focus will be on the Southwest and Southeast portions of the Township.  

At the April 8 BOT meeting, Supervisor Gonser indicated that the Water Resource Commission (WRC) is developing a Master Plan for Oakland Township Water Districts.  Part of this plan will include potential water treatment facilities.

He went on to say that the Environmental Protection Agency (DEQ) requires Oakland Township to have water storage facilities. The need for these facilities has been in abeyance due to the uncertainty of Oakland Township utilizing the Detroit Water system.  The Township Board recently decided that they would not pursue hooking up to the Detroit Water system. According to Supervisor Gonser, water storage facilities would have been required even if we did connect to the Detroit Water system.

These storage facilities would be located in the Southwest and Southeast portions of our Township.  Gonser described the two options we will have for these facilities – pancake ground level tanks or water towers.

Here is a video of his comments on this subject:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Due to the decision to not connect to the Detroit Water system, several developers and individual home owners have filed suit against the Township to have a fee, that they paid when they built their homes for potential connection to the Detroit system, returned.  The total dollar amount involved in these lawsuits is approximately $5 million dollars.  The capital expense for the water treatment and storage facilities will be paid by the citizens of Oakland Township.  It is unlikely that the $5 million dollars previously collected could be used for these facilities.  How the costs for these facilities would be born by the residents of Oakland Township is uncertain at the present time.

Please read the following about related topics:

 Oakland Township sued over water tap fees

Update: Oakland Township sued over water tap fees reaches $5 million

Richard Michalski