For those of you who have been to, or watched, Oakland Township Board meetings since November of 2012 you may have noticed that Karen Reilly, our Clerk, rarely contributes to the Board’s discussions. The meeting on August 12, 2014 had an agenda full of substantive topics, most notably the appointment of many new individuals to various Boards and Commissions. NOT A SINGLE COMMENT was made by Karen Reilly during the entire 4 1/2 hour meeting.
During the December 7, 2013 Board meeting, when the Board was interviewing candidates for the Township Manager position, one of the candidates asked each Board member why they ran for office. Karen’s response was:
In an earlier 2013 meeting, shortly after taking office, Karen explained why she did not participate in a State supported training session for Township Clerks. Karen had no experience in Township Clerk responsibilities, and clearly had no desire to get a better understanding of the Clerk’s responsibilities. Here is her statement:
As reported in a previous post on this website, she did respond (on a ‘live’ microphone prior to the beginning of a Board meeting) to former Trustee McKay on why the minutes of closed meetings do not have any documentation of what was discussed during the meeting.
Her ‘off the record’, open microphone comments show she is articulate so maybe her ‘on the record’ silence can be understood via her comment:
“…the point is you don’t want to put too much in there. Because… whatever you say can be held against you. The less you have in there the better off you are…”.
Is she self-editing her participation at our Board meetings because she feels her ideas are dangerous or unacceptable to our community?
There are certainly differences between introverts and extroverts on how they act in public. However, I believe that when a citizen runs for public office, even an introvert should be expected to explain the rationale for taking a position on an issue. Karen never explains the rationale for her votes.
As you know, Karen’s husband, John, ran for the State Representative seat in the 46th district in the August primary. In early 2014, I asked John if he would include me on distribution to the Oakland Township Republican meetings that he chairs. I did attend one of these meetings in January of 2014 when I found out about it. This is one of the meetings that Karen referenced in her ‘reason’ for running for office. One of the agenda items at that meeting was:
- The Republican establishment’s “war” on tea party and libertarians at both the national and state levels
Several Oakland Township Precinct delegates attended as well as our Supervisor, several other Board members, our state representative Tom McMillin, and various citizens .
Before John would add me to his distribution list, he wanted to know where and why I stood on a number of political issues. I found his requirement strange and inappropriate. He responded by saying he was “surprised” that I found his request inappropriate. It was clear he was not interested in having an open discussion in his meetings. He wanted to understand my (an unelected citizen) thoughts on issues, before he (an elected precinct captain) would include me on distribution. I refused to participate in his exclusionary forum.
What is the linkage between Karen Reilly’s lack of comments at Board meetings and John’s requirement? I think the citizens of Oakland Township deserve some insight into the thought process of our elected Clerk. Karen needs to express the rationale for her taking the positions she takes. John’s requirement for similar information from a private citizen was inappropriate.
From my perspective Karen either does not have any thoughts of her own, or is afraid to express them. Is she following what her husband tells her to do, what Supervisor Gonser tells her to do? Is she living by her own advice “whatever you say can be held against you (or her husband)”? Is she trying to minimize any political damage she could create for her husband’s political aspirations since she ran for office because of his involvement in politics?
At any rate, the citizens deserve to have a better understanding of what our Clerk ‘really’ thinks on issues.
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