Monthly Archives: June 2014

Supervisor Gonser’s contradictory actions and words

Actions vs words icon

As reported earlier on this website, Supervisor Gonser violated Oakland Township’s bylaws when he did not allow former Trustee Judy Keyes to speak during the second ‘citizen comment’ portion of the May 13th BOT meeting.  At the June 10th BOT meeting, a motion was made to change the bylaws to restrict citizens to only one comment for items not on the agenda.  This motion, if approved, would have allowed Supervisor Gonser’s May 13th action to be in compliance with the ‘revised’ bylaws.  In documenting Supervisor Gonser’s actions and comments on this issue, there are clear inconsistencies between his actions and his comments.  He ultimately did not support the motion, but still tried to inappropriately justify his actions .  His future actions must be monitored, or we will face, as one of his past supporters stated, “increasingly repressive measures”.

Here is the chronology of events:

May 13th BOT meeting

  • Gonser refuses to allow former Trustee Keyes to speak during second public comment portion of meeting – violating Oakland Township’s bylaws.

June 10th BOT meeting

  • At beginning of meeting, Supervisor Gonser tries to justify his May 13th  actions by stating:

“It is clearly stated in Michigan law that the Chairman determines who speaks, for how long and who does not speak, and who may be called ‘out of order’.”

  • He then goes on to make a statement that indicates he will support a proposed change to the bylaws that would have allowed his actions at the May 13th meeting:

“I believe tonight some of that (the May 13 issue) may be resolved relative to a change in the wording of the bylaws”

  • During the discussion on the proposed bylaws change to prevent citizens from making a second comment during the ‘citizen comments’ portion of the agenda, a very vocal supporter of Supervisor Gonser and this Board made the following statement:

This move does not pass the smell test.  It is obvious that the concern for some on the Board is to push back on the voices of the opposition.”

  • Treasurer Langlois, who wrote the proposed wording for the bylaw change, responded by saying:

“Based on my fellow trustee’s comments, and the math (statistics on how much time has been consumed by citizen’s second comments) I will support leaving the bylaws the way they are.”

  • Supervisor Gonser then states:

I am not in favor of changing the bylaws.  What happened last month – happened.  Since I was chairing, I will accept responsibility for it.  But according to MCL 4197, the Supervisor, a.k.a. chairman of the meeting, does grant authority to persons to speak at the meeting, and silencing those that may be out of order for disrupting the meeting….. I have never suggested we not leave it (allowing public comment for a second time) that way.”

Here are some key points

  • Former Trustee Keyes was not disruptive at the May 13 meeting, so Supervisor Gonser had no justification for his actions, even though he tried to hide behind the MCL rule.
  • Supervisor Gonser’s actions at the May 13th meeting were clearly aimed at silencing former Trustee Keyes, since she (and others) have been very vocal opponents of this Board, and Supervisor Gonser in particular.
  • Treasurer Langlois, who was the author of the proposed amendment, had the courage to acknowledge that her initial position was not appropriate and changed her mind based on input from trustees and citizens.
  • Trustee Thalmann was not influenced by trustee and citizen comments and voted to restrict citizen input.
  • Supervisor Gonser did not have the courage to publicly state that his May 13th action was wrong since he continued to try and justify his actions by referencing the MCL rule – even though he violated our Township bylaws.
  • Supervisor Gonser stated that he never suggested or favored changing the bylaws. However, earlier in the meeting, he stated that the issue (his actions) from the May 13 meeting would be ‘resolved’ through a ‘change in the wording of the bylaws’.

Here is a video documenting the above statements:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser’s comments at the June 10 meeting clearly demonstrate he believes his May 13th actions were acceptable even though they violated the bylaws of our Township.  His continued attempt to justify his actions by referencing the MCL rule further confirms that his vote to not approve the change in the bylaws was ‘half hearted’. His actions must be closely monitored by concerned citizens, or we will see “increasingly repressive measures” as stated by one of Supervisor Gonser’s supporters.

Richard Michalski

Related article:  Trustee Thalmann votes to ‘silence opposition’

Related article: Supervisor Gonser violates Township bylaws and Mrs. Keyes right to speak


Trustee Maureen Thalmann votes to ‘silence opposition’

Voltaire quote

At the June 10, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, there was a proposal to revise the “Rules of Order” that the Board had recently approved.  There were three proposed changes.  One of them would have eliminated the opportunity for citizens to speak a second time on ‘subjects not on the agenda’.  Trustee Thalmann made the motion to make the change.  It was seconded by recently appointed Trustee, John Giannangeli.  Treasurer Langlois also indicated that she supported the change.  After discussion and input from several citizens, including one who thought this change was aimed at ‘silencing the opposition’, the motion was voted upon.  Trustee Thalmann was the only Board member who supported restricting citizen input.

As reported previously on this website, at the May 13, 2014 Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser did not allow former Trustee, Mrs. Judy Keyes, to make a comment during the second ‘citizen comment’ portion of the Board meeting.  His action violated the ‘Rules of Order’ that he, and the Board, had agreed upon earlier this year.  His reasoning was that other communities do not allow citizens to make comments twice during their Board meetings.

The following video includes portions of the June 10th Board meeting that dealt with this issue.  It includes comments from a citizen that has historically been a very strong supporter of Supervisor Gonser and the Board.  He very eloquently states the reasons why he does not support the proposed change.  His comments clearly had an impact on the Treasurer Langlois, John Giannangeli and Supervisor Gonser.  However, Trustee Thalmann still felt it acceptable to minimize the amount of time she was willing to spend on listening to the voice of the people she represents, effectively ‘silencing the voice of the opposition’.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The citizens of Oakland Township deserve elected officials that are willing to listen to their concerns.  Trustee Thalmann, by her vote, clearly is not willing to do so.

Related articles:

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

Some Oakland Township residents may be entitled to a $2,500 refund from the Township

It was previously reported on this website that Oakland Township was being sued by two developers for fees they paid Oakland Township to connect with the Detroit Water System, as well as a separate class action suit for individual homeowners. Since the Township Board has decided to stop any future efforts to connect to the Detroit Water System, the lawsuits were filed against the Township to have the fees returned.  The total amount that the Township has collected for the water tap fees is approximately $5 million.  

At the May 13, 2014 Board meeting, the Board agreed to return approximately $2 million of the $5 million to the two developers that filed suit.  There were a number of legal items that were included in the settlement.  As a result of the agreements, the issue will no longer need to be resolved in court for the two developers.  The class action suit appears to still be unresolved.

A $2,500 water tap fee was paid to the Township by the developers for each home they built.  However, some residents may have paid the $2,500 fee directly to the Township when they built their home.  It appears that these residents may be entitled to receiving a refund, just like the two developers that filed suit with the Township. The key here is that they personally paid the $2,500 fee to the Township, and did not have the developer pay the fee.  It appears that the class action suit intended to cover the claims for all individual residents who personally paid the water tap fee.

Here is a copy of the class action suit:

Kozyra vs. Oakland Township.

Here is a video of the May 13, 2014 Board proceedings:


Here are several links to previous posts or a published article on this topic:

Oakland Press article    (1/11/14)

Original Post     (01/14/2014)

Updated Post   (03/26/2014)

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  It is not clear if the Township is proactively identifying the individual homeowners that paid the fee themselves. So, if you had a home built in the Township between January 1998 and September 2013, and you paid the $2,500 fee yourself, I would suggest you contact that Township office to determine if you are entitle to a refund.  They may tell you that your refund is dependent upon the outcome of the Kozyra vs. Oakland Township lawsuit in Circuit Court.

Richard Michalski