Daily Archives: August 14, 2014

Oakland Township’s Attorney involved in Driving under the influence (DUI) incident

Dave Duenow, an Orion Township resident, recently discovered that Dan Kelly, the attorney that represents both Orion and Oakland Township, was involved in a Driving under the influence incident a year ago near Gaylord, Michigan along with Deputy Oakland County Executive Matthew Gibbs.  Although Dan Kelly was not the one charged in the incident he was involved in a manner that raised concerns by the Judge hearing the case.  On August 6, 2014 Dave Duenow’s discovery was reported in the Clarkston Review.

Here are the specifics:

  • On June 7, 2013 Matthew Gibbs, the current deputy Oakland County Executive and former Orion Township Supervisor, was charged near Gaylord, Michigan with operating under the influence of alcohol, careless driving, and having an open bottle of intoxicants between his legs.
  • Township Attorney Dan Kelly was in the passenger seat.
  • Matthew Gibbs posted a $400 bond and was released.
  • On June 26, 2013 the court hearing for the incident occurred.
  • Dan Kelly was the attorney that represented Matthew Gibbs.
  • Dan Kelly did not disclose to the Judge that he was in the vehicle at the time of the incident.
  • The case was settled by Matthew Gibbs pleading guilty to having an open intoxicant in the car.  The other charges were dropped.
  • Per Dan Duenow, Judge Erhart later was informed that Dan Kelly was in the vehicle at the time of the incident.  The Judge indicated that had he known Dan Kelly was in the vehicle, he would not have allowed him to represent Matthew Gibbs.

Here are several links to press articles pertaining to this incident:

Article in Clarkston Review

Article in Petoskey News

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Dan Kelly’s ethics come into question when he decided to not disclose that he was in the vehicle at the time of the incident.  Oakland Township is currently spending record levels for legal fees.  Dan Kelly, and his firm, are making significant amounts of money at the Township expense. His recommendations to the Township to proceed on legal matters result in significant personal benefits to him and his firm. One recent example was the decision at the August 12th Board meeting to proceed with a lawsuit against the Clinton River Watershed Council for alleged violations related to the Paint Creek Dam removal.  The Board approved it, but our Attorney must have contributed in the decision.  Was this a ‘self serving’ recommendation?

Here is another incident regarding potential ethics issue involving Supervisor Gonser and the Township Attorney:

Township Attorney is buying lunches for Supervisor Gonser as part of Township’s retainer fee

RIchard Michalski

Township attorney is buying lunches for Supervisor Gonser as part of Township’s retainer fee

At the July 8th Board meeting, it was disclosed that the Township attorney has been purchasing lunches for Supervisor Gonser.  The original bills were discovered on July 7th.  The lunches were in November and December of 2013.  These bills were reviewed and approved by Supervisor Gonser, since we did not have a Township Manager at that time.  Dan Kelly, our Township attorney, repaid the Township for one of the lunches on July 7th.  He did not agree to repay the Township for the other lunches since they were part of the Township’s monthly “retainer fee”.  During questioning at the July 8th meeting, neither the Township Attorney nor Terry Gonser found anything ‘inappropriate” about the Attorney purchasing Gonser’s lunches.  The other Board members did not express an opinion on the matter.

On July 7, 2014 the author of this post reviewed several bills that our Township attorney has charged the Township for Legal services.  This review was part of a Freedom of Information Request.  In reviewing the documents, it was discovered that the attorney had paid for 3 lunches with Supervisor Gonser.  The bill information is:

  • 11/21/2013    $23.08  Westwynd Grill        Terry Gonser
  • 12/02/2013    $38.43  Champps America   Terry Gonser
  • 12/11/2013    $40.00  Westwynd Grill        Terry Gonser

The actual bills can be seen here:

Township Attorney pays for Gonser’s lunches

On July 7th, when these charges were discussed with Manager Ann Capela, she said:

“This is not good, it will create problems!”

During the public comment portion of the Board meeting, the author of this post brought up the issue discovered on July 7th.  The Attorney indicate that he paid back only the $23.08 bill, since it had been charged inappropriately to the Township.  The other two lunch bills were not specifically charged to the Township, but were included as a noted item as part of a monthly retainer fee the Township pays the attorney.

Treasurer Langlois confirmed that two of the lunch bills were an ‘internal amount’ that the attorney was tracking against the monthly retainer fee ($1,500 per month).

When asked if it was appropriate for the Supervisor to have his lunches paid at the expense of the Township, even though it is part of the retainer fee, Dan Kelly responded by saying:

“It is not inappropriate!”

He went on to say that he spent hours with the Supervisor discussing legal issues in the Township.

Supervisor Gonser then said:

“Many times . . . I should not even say many times. . . .  there are times when we conduct business over lunch.  I guess I would have to say it is not inappropriate.  We are conducting Township business!”

Here is a video of the July 8th BOT discussion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Clearly one of the bills was inappropriately charged to the Township, and was repaid by the Attorney.  The other two bills may just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of expenses that are being ‘buried’ within the monthly retainer fee.  Costs for lunches (and possibly other inappropriate charges) become the ‘baseline’ for the Legal firm to establish new monthly retainer fees in the future. If questionable expenses are included now, future retainer fees may rise without any transparent justification.

When Gonser was a manager at GM, GM had a policy where suppliers were not allowed to purchase lunches for employees.  When Gonser retired, he obviously felt that that policy was inappropriate for the Township Supervisor.

The entire Township Board should go on record for approving, or not approving, the cost for this type of ‘fringe benefit’.

Here is a link to recent similar issue that Gonser approved:

Township ‘administration’ authorizes paying for luncheon tickets – against wishes of several Board members

Richard Michalski