Monthly Archives: September 2014

BREAKING NEWS: TOWNSHIP MANAGER CAPELA’S CONTRACT TERMINATED

Robert Yager, the publisher of the Oakland Township Sentinel, published an article indicating that the Oakland Township Board terminated  manager Ann Capela’s contract on September 29, 2014. The vote was 5 to 2.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two that supported keeping Capela.

 A copy of Robert’s article is posted here:  

Oakland Township Sentinel 9-30-2014

I would encourage any readers or ‘followers’ of this site to send Robert an email at:

yagerra@comcast.net

to subscribe to his website.  He will send emails to you with each update.  The content shown on his site is very informative.  Here is a link to his website:

Oakland Township Sentinel

Thank you Robert for bringing this to our attention!

Here is a link to an Oakland Press article:

Oakland Press Article

Richard Michalski

 

Treasurer Langlois discovers that Supervisor may have exceeded his authority and Township Attorney, Dan Kelly, makes inappropriate comment

At the September 23, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, a discussion took place regarding the process that has been used by Supervisor Gonser in nominating various Board and Commission members.  Treasurer Langlois discovered that he may have exceeded his authority in making those recommendations.  The Township Attorney made an inappropriate comment on a ‘live microphone’ when a legal review request was made.

Board member comments indicate they were upset with how Supervisor Gonser has handled the appointment of various Board and Commission members.  Those concerns have previously been reported on this website.  During the September 23rd BOT meeting, the Board discussed establishing a process to prevent similar behavior from occurring in the future.

Treasurer Langlois reviewed existing Township by-laws and ordinances to understand the procedures that already exist.  In that review, she discovered that Supervisor Gosner may not have sole authority to nominate candidates for the various positions.

In light of Treasurer Langlois’ discovery, she requested a legal review of the appointment processes for each Township Board and Commission.  When this request was made, Township Attorney, Dan Kelly, made an inappropriate comment caught on a ‘live microphone’.  His comment was:

“Shit”

After making that comment, he quickly turned his microphone off.  After it became clear that the Board expected a comment from the attorney, he began to speak into a ‘dead microphone’ and then turned it on.  Here is his entire comment:

“A review of all the commissions and how they get appointed… that is pretty simple….. I think I can handle that one.”

Mr. Kelly then turned to the public and smiled appearing to be embarrassed by his earlier comment.  Several of the Board members appeared to find Mr. Kelly’s response amusing.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Gonser’s behavior is consistent with his opinion that he is ‘omnipotent’.  Fortunately, several Board members are beginning to challenge his belief and behavior.  They may be beginning to follow the recommendation of one of our citizens regarding Supervisor Gonser  –

“DON’T trust and MUST verify”.

Regarding the attorney’s inappropriate response to the legal review request, one can only question why he made that statement.  Several options could be:

  • He wanted Township Manager Capela to handle it.
  • He is too busy.
  • He is concerned that the outcome could upset Gonser and disrupt the apparent ‘tight’ relationship he has with Supervisor Gonser.
  • He is disappointed that this request is not a ‘litigation’ issue for which he could charge the Township additional money.  This request should be covered by his retainer.
  • Others?

We will never know why he said what he said.  However, it is clear it was totally inappropriate and unprofessional, much like his handling of the DUI incident previously reported on this website.

Our Township deserves a more professional Legal Counsel.

Here is a video of the proceedings described above:

Richard Michalski

Here is a previously reported article about our Township Attorney’s inappropriate actions:

SEPTEMBER 9, 2014 UPDATE: Oakland Township’s Attorney involved in Driving under the influence (DUI) incident

Trustees repudiate Supervisor Gonser’s actions

At the September 23, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, several Board members repudiated Supervisor Gonser’s behavior regarding the process he has used to replace various Board and Commission appointments.  Their comments were made after District Fire Chief Chuck Beach confirmed that he had not been contacted regarding his interest in continuing to be a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  

In a previous meeting, Supervisor Gonser had stated that Chuck Beach was contacted, and then proceeded to nominate another person of his choice to replace Chuck Beach.  This is not the first occurrence of this behavior by Gonser.  

The Board began discussions to establish a process that would prevent Gonser from repeating this unprofessional and embarrassing behavior in the future.

As reported earlier on this website, the Township Board approved Supervisor Gonser’s nominee for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at the August 12, 2014 Board meeting. The new appointee is Lawrence Tomczak. The person replaced was Chuck Beach. Chuck is a Township District Chief firefighter.

At the September 9th Oakland Township Board meeting, Gonser stated Chuck was not interested in being reappointed to the ZBA.  At the September 23rd Board meeting, Chuck Beach personally stated that:

“I would like to thank the Board members that had contacted me to say that they were very sorry about how I was replaced on the Zoning Board of Appeals.”

He went on to say:

“It has been said that I had been contacted.  For the record, I was never contacted or asked if I wanted to continue (on the ZBA) or not.  In the past, I was always contacted.  This time I wasn’t.

I was never contacted – period!”

One of the Township citizens, Frank Ferriolo,  said:

“I, as a resident, am sorry that that happened to Mr. Beach as well!”

Frank wanted the minutes of the September 9th meeting to be corrected to reflect that the Supervisor’s comment was challenged.  When the Board moved to approve the unamended minutes, he said:

“I have come to say:

‘Trust and verify’

 is now

‘DON”T trust and MUST verify’ (referring to Gonser)!

This Board has to deal with this in the same manner.”

Trustee Bailey’s comments regarding the need to establish a process for board and commission appointments said:

“It shouldn’t be up to a ‘whim’ of somebody saying ‘I don’t like that person serving there, and I am going to nominate someone else, and I am not going to tell that guy that he is being replaced.

THAT’S GOT TO STOP!

It is embarrassing and bad in any way you look at it.

If someone wanted to continue (in an appointed position) and Terry did not want him to continue, I would think twice before I agreed with Terry.  I would want to know more about this guy’s (the incumbent’s) performance”

Trustee Buxar explained why she voted to approve the minutes as recorded, since that is what was actually stated at that meeting.  She indicated that the minutes of the September 23rd meeting would reflect that Gonser’s statement was challenged by Mr. Beach.

Treasurer Langlois officially requested that the minutes for the September 23rd meeting reflect that Mr. Beach stated that he had not been contacted regarding his interest in being replaced – as part of her Trustee comments.

Here is a video of the September 23rd meeting:

Similar unprofessional behavior by Supervisor Gosner occurred last year and can be reviewed here:

Phelps and Platz removed from Zoning Board of Appeals

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser has been nominating new people for virtually every position when the incumbent’s term has expired.  He has stated that it is ‘his’ authority to do so, and the Trustees cannot nominate other individuals for these positions.  Treasurer Langlois has researched this, and has discovered that he does not have this authority for all positions.  A legal opinion of this challenge by Treasurer Langlois will require a legal assessment (more on this in a future posting).  Clearly Supervisor Gonser is appointing people for political purposes.  He does not value the experience of those who have served in the past.  His lack of professionalism in contacting them prior to their term expiring is proof of that.  Hopefully the Board will use the phase:

“DON’T trust and MUST verify!”

in their dealings with Gonser’s recommendations and nominees as recommended by a previous supporter of Gonser.  It appears some of the Board members are also beginning to recognize the true character of our Supervisor.

Richard Michalski

Here are previous posts on this subject:

Supervisor Gonser continues his unprofessional behavior and makes another false statement

Township Board makes significant changes to several Boards and Commissions

 

 

Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli fail to comprehend Trustee Buxar’s comments

At the September 9, 2014 Board meeting, Trustee Buxar commented on how there have been comments made by Board members at other Township meetings implying that Board conversations occurred when those conversations had not occurred.  She went on to say that conversations may have occurred between other Board members, but did not include her.  She asked that these statements be stopped in the future.  

Trustee Thalmann responded in a manner that had nothing to do with the issue that Trustee Buxar brought up.  In fact, she took the opportunity to attempt to ‘pat herself on the back’.  Although not captured on video (I was present at the meeting), the expressions on Trustee Giannangeli’s face when Buxar was making her comments were ones of bewilderment.  

The statement that Buxar made was in response to Trustee Giannangeli’s comments at the September 2 Planning Commission meeting.  As reported previously, Trustee Giannangeli made comments regarding the Board’s request for an RFP for the Planning Consulting services BEFORE any such discussion occurred with the entire Board in an open session.

Here is a video of Trustee Buxar’s comments, and Trustee Thalmann’s response:

Here is a link to the previous post regarding Trustee Giannangeli’s inappropriate comments:

Another Open Meeting violation by Oakland Township Board or Gonser’s ‘puppet’ speaking?

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This is yet another example of how several members of the Board fail to recognize their mistakes, and learn from them.  The self rationalization of their actions apparently give them a sense of infallibility that this Township can ill afford.

Richard Michalski

Trustee Thalmann makes false statement about Township Planning Consultant

At the September 9, 2014 Board meeting, there was an agenda item to initiate a Request for Proposal to possibly replace the current Township Planning Consultant.  Trustee Thalmann made a number of false statements that were refuted by four fellow Board members.  Fortunately, the Board rejected the proposal in a 5 to 2 vote.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the two minority votes.

There have been other posts on this website dealing with the Request for Proposal to replace the Township Planning Consultant firm.  This topic was finally discussed at the September 9th Board meeting.  A motion was made by Trustee Thalmann to request an RFP.  It did not receive a ‘second’, so Supervisor Gonser seconded the motion himself.

During the discussion, Trustee Thalmann made a number of accusations and statements about our current planning consultant.  Trustees Bailey, Buxar, Treasurer Langlois and Clerk Reilly all refuted the accuracy of Thalmann’s statements.  Thalmann and Gonser appeared to want to have a ‘local’ supplier for that service, even though the service provided by the current consulting company has been outstanding for many years.

Here is a video of the discussion at the meeting.  Please watch the Trustee’s responses to Thalmann’s accusations:

Contrary to Gonser’s comments, the Township Planning Consultant, Larry Nix, has contracts with four, not two communities.  The four communities are Harbor Springs, Elk Rapids, Frankenmuth and Oakland Township.  All of these communities are outstanding planned communities.  He is well respected throughout the state.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The current planning consultant has a very clear understanding and love for our Township.  He has been the consultant for years, and desires to continue supporting our Township.

As reported earlier on this website, Supervisor Gonser wants to change the direction of the Township. He plans to influence the direction the Township by appointing new members to the Planning Commission, and terminate the relationship with the Planning Consulting firm that has been instrumental in creating the beautiful Township we live in.

Gonser and Thalmann clearly want to dramatically change our Township.  Do you believe our Township needs to change dramatically?  If so, you probably support Gonser and Thalmann.  If you love what we have in our Township, you must stand together and fight to prevent Gonser and Thalmann from destroying our Township.

Richard Michalski

Township Board approves potentially precedent setting (and costly) policy on Road maintenance

The Township Board approved spending $40,000 of funds from the ‘general fund’ to improve the gravel road portion of Silverbell Road at the September 9, 2014 Board meeting.  The Board approved spending this money by a 4 to 3 margin.  

Treasurer Langlois expressed concerns regarding:

  • the lack of having a comprehensive plan for our Township Road improvements that would ensure we were addressing the most critical roads,
  • the use of ‘general funds’ for this project, and
  • the precedent setting action of the Township assuming responsibility for the safety of the roads.  The Oakland County Road Commission has that responsibility.

This decision may cost the Township ‘dearly’ in the future.

At the September 9, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated that the Road Commission had contracted for enough limestone to improve about one additional mile of gravel roads in Oakland Township. This limestone was in addition to the improvements that occurred on Dutton Road this year.

Road improvements in our Township (above and beyond what is required for safety) have historically been covered by what is called tri-party funds.  The dollars for these improvements come from three sources, 1/3 from the Road Commission, 1/3 from the County and 1/3 from Oakland Township (hence the name tri-party fund).   In other words, our dollars are ‘leveraged’.  The cost for the Dutton Road improvements was also shared between Oakland Township and Rochester Hills.  That improvement was totally covered by tri-party funds from both communities.

The cost for the additional mile of limestone could not be totally covered by the remaining 2014 Oakland Township tri-party funds.  It would require an additional $40,000 from Oakland Township’s ‘General Fund’.  Supervisor Gonser wanted to authorize the Road Commission to purchase and use the limestone on Silverbell road in response to safety concerns raised by citizens.

Treasurer Langlois indicated she was not in favor of using Township ‘General Funds’ to improve road safety when road safety was the responsibility of the Road Commission.  She also pointed out that the Township’s road improvement planning has deteriorated since we lost our previous Township manager.  Treasurer Langlois, Trustees Buxar and Bailey all expressed disappointment that a more comprehensive plan had not been developed that would ensure the most critical roads in the Township were being addressed.

The Township Board voted on the motion to purchase the limestone, and it passed with Gonser, Reilly, Thalmann and Giannangeli supporting the motion.  Langlois, Buxar and Bailey being the dissenting minority.

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ concerns with this motion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The use of general funds for road improvements to eliminate safety concerns could be a precedent setting action.  The Road Commission may now look to the Township to pay for future road improvements that they consider safety related. Until now, the Road Commission has been responsible for safety.  The Board’s decision may cloud that responsibility going forward. If the Township becomes responsible for road safety, our taxes will certainly increase to cover those costs.

The politically expeditious decision by Supervisor Gonser, Clerk Reilly and Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli may cost the Township dearly in the future!

Richard Michalski

 

Trustee Thalmann implies Clerk’s office is ‘politicized’ – her solution WOULD make that true!

The September 9th Oakland Township Board meeting had an agenda item “Oakland Township Staffing Allocation and Organizational Chart”.  The agenda item has been delayed to a future meeting.  Trustee Thalmann gave her reason for delaying the discussion in light of the recent announcement that the Township’s Deputy Clerk was retiring.  Thalmann’s solution would further politicize our Township.

At the September 9th meeting, it was announced that our Deputy Clerk was planning on retiring.  Trustee Thalmann commented that since she was retiring, she thought the agenda item to discuss the Township’s organizational structure should be deferred to a later meeting.  Her stated reason for deferring the discussion was:

“I think the recent notification of the retirement opens us up a bit to looking at the actual deputy position.  Do we need to have that as a full time position it is?  Or can it be, as it is in the statute, someone who is not a full time Township employee, but is a political appointment. And then the person handling, more of the day to day activities of the Township itself is not an employee who could possibly be a victim of political vagaries – that you would have a continuum of someone experienced and professional in that position.”

Note:   Dictionary definition of vagary – ” An erratic, unpredictable or extravagent manifestation, action or notion”

Thalmann’s statement implies the following:

  • Thalmann thinks that the Clerk’s office has been involved in political vagaries or that it is vulnerable to political vagaries.
  • Thalmann thinks that an individual that is a ‘political appointment’ is LESS likely to be influenced by political vagaries.
  • Thalmann thinks that having a part time appointed person will provide a continuum of someone experienced and professional.

Her rationale is totally without merit.

  • There is no evidence that the Clerk’s office has been influenced by politics.  Is it possible that some of the EXPERIENCED staff expressed objections to the direction they were given by the INEXPERIENCED elected officials, and Thalmann and Gonser now want someone on staff that will ‘tow the line’? 
  • A ‘political appointment’ by definition IS a POLITICAL APPOINTMENT
  • A part time appointed person can never provide a continuum of experience, especially since the Clerk’s position can change every 4 years (along with the politically appointed Deputy Clerk) in the election cycle.

As you may recall, Clerk Reilly refused to participate in a State sponsored training session for Township Clerks.  Reilly sent her staff since she did not feel the need to understand the details of running the Clerk’s office.  How would a part time, politically appointed Deputy Clerk provide the ‘continuum of experience’ Thalmann is referencing?  On the contrary, it would ADD an “erratic unpredictable action” (i.e. vagary) into the operation of our Township!

Here is a video of Thalmann’s comments:

Here is video of  Clerk Reilly’s refusal to attend Clerk Training:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township has been politicized more under the current administration than ever before.  The logic and strategies that Thalmann believe would de-politicize the Township are totally counterintuitive and would make the situation worse.

The Township staff, boards and commission members are being purged, and are being replaced with people that Gonser and the Board see as helping them move the Township in a ‘new direction’.  Are the citizens of Oakland Township ready to embark on a path that has yet to be clarified?

2016 cannot come soon enough for many of us in Oakland Township.

Richard Michalski