Monthly Archives: November 2014

Supervisor Gonser thinks Oakland Township’s form of government is “bizarre” and unworkable

On November 11, 2014 the Oakland Press posted an article that reported on the current employment status of Oakland Township’s former manager, Ann Capela.  As reported previously, she agreed to terminate her employment as Oakland Township’s manager on September 29, 2014.  In the Oakland Press article, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he agreed with the former manager’s assessment that the political structure in Oakland Township is ‘unworkable’.  Gonser went on to say that it is a ‘bizarre’ form of government.  

At the November 11, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Board voted to authorize a consulting firm to initiate a Township Manager search to replace Ann Capela.  The motion was approved in a 6 to 1 vote.  Supervisor Gonser was the sole dissenting vote.

Here are some of the highlights of the Oakland Press article:

  • Ann Capela, our former manager, was hired by the city of Bethel, Alaska.
  • Regarding her September 29th agreement to terminate her contract as Oakland Township Manager, Capela stated:

“(Oakland Township has) a challenging political structure that soon became unworkable.”

  • The article states that Terry Gonser, the current Township Supervisor, agreed with her assessment.
  • He went on to say:

“We have a bizarre, unique form of government.”

  • Commenting on Ann Capela’s new assignment, he stated:

“She won’t be subjected to so much micromanagement.”

“She won’t be pulled in different directions.”

  • Trustee Thalmann, who voted to retain Capela, also supported the Supervisor’s opinion regarding the Township’s form of governance.

Here is a link to the Oakland Press article:

Former Manager: Oakland Townships structure ‘unworkable’

 Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township has had the current structure since the early 1990’s.  There were no issues raised under the previous three Supervisors (Buser-Hoffman-Fogler) with the current form of government.

Supervisor Gonser, as well as Trustee Thalmann, continue to want to change the structure to one with a “Strong Supervisor”.  There have been several previous articles posted on this website regarding Gonser’s attempt to change the Township structure.  Here are those articles:

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt (once again) to have a “Strong Supervisor” structure in Oakland Township

 Trustee’s reject Supervisor Gonser’s desire to become a ‘Stong Supervisor’

 Can we Trust Supervisor Gonser with more authority

Gonser and Thalmann have recently been in the ‘minority position’ on a number of Board decisions.  This could be a contributing reason for their desire to have Gonser become a ‘Strong Supervisor’.  He would then be able to make Township operational decisions without the consent of the entire Board.

The current political structure allows a trained professional Manager or Superintendent to manage the Township with direction from the Board. Having the operational decisions made by an untrained political elected official would not only dilute the authority of the Board, but would result in chaos and confusion in our Township after each Board election.  It would highly politicize the day to day operation of our Township.

Supervisor Gonser has indicated that he spends 50 hours per week on Township business.  His position is suppose to be a part time position.  His presence at the Township Hall most likely caused the micromanagement that Capela complained about. The Treasurer and Clerk probably had to spend additional time at the Township Hall making sure Gonser did not give direction on items impacting their departments – probably contributing to Capela being pulled in different directions.

Fortunately, the current Board has consistently objected to changing the political structure of our Township.  I hope that continues!  Their decision to approve the search for a replacement for Ann Capela is a good start.

Richard Michalski


Supervisor Gonser creates controversy over proposed Veterans Memorial

At the November 11, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser had a proposed Oakland Township Veterans Memorial presentation given to the Board and the public.  The Veterans Memorial proposal was met with positive feedback.  The less than positive feedback from the public came from two issues.  One was Gonser’s proposed location, the other was his method of bringing this concept forward.  Fortunately, the Board requested that, before the Township take any further action on this topic, a nonprofit organization (501c3) be created to pursue the details (including financing) for this project.

At the November 11 BOT meeting, Supervisor Gonser had Steven McKay, an architect that Gonser stated had been working with ‘the Township’, present three conceptual drawings for a Oakland Township Veterans Memorial.  The proposed location was in the Paint Creek Cider Mill parking lot near Paint Creek and the recently redone bridge over Orion Road.

There were many citizens present who supported the desire for a Veterans Memorial in Oakland Township.  However, several people were opposed to what was being presented.  The major issue raised was the proposed location. Several citizens thought that the location was inappropriate, and wanted other locations to be considered.

Several citizens expressed concern that this was another project that Gonser was bringing forward without input from others.  Gonser stated that he did get help from other citizens, but did not disclose their names.  He did not acknowledge getting input from either the Parks Commission, Historic District Commission or other Township staff.  One citizen shared his concern that this project would result in failure, just like another project Supervisor Gonser initiated without any other input from Township Board members or Commissions.

Supervisor Gonser stated:

“This site was chosen with the help of others.”

“There is no reason that this memorial can’t go forward more quickly than subcommittee and process would permit.”

He did not apologize for how he brought forward the project, and then suggested that the Board approve the use of this property or let the concept die.  It was a childish display of ‘my way or the highway!”

Fortunately, the Board requested that, before taking any action on this concept, a nonprofit organization be created that would take the lead on working through the details.  Their proposals would then be reviewed by the Township Board and other Commissions, ensuring that it was truely what the entire community desired.

As a reminder, Supervisor Gonser, during the August 13, 2013 BOT meeting, stated “Process is everything!” when a proposal he did not support was rejected because it had not followed the approved township process.  Apparently processes are not necessary when HE wants to do something.  Here is his statement:


Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This is yet another example of Supervisor Gonser’s approach to unilaterally taking action on items  without soliciting input from others.  The idea may be a good one, but his approach to getting things started on projects seems to be centered about making sure that his name, and his alone, is associated with the idea.  He stated that the architect “had been working with the Township”, yet the only Township personnel who he had been working with was Gonser.  In Gonser’s eyes, HE is the Township.  His continued efforts to change the political structure of Oakland Township to a ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of governance is consistent with his behavior.

This proposal was, not accidentally, introduced on Veterans Day. It appeared to be a political display by Gonser.  Prior to the meeting, the author of this post overheard one individual tell the person who presented the proposals, “I was asked by Gonser to come out and speak in support of the memorial.”  Clearly there is nothing wrong with this, but Gonser’s real motives come into question.

During the discussion of this proposal, the author of this post pointed out that he found it ironic that the Supervisor and the Board appeared to support a memorial to veterans, but were not supportive of the Blossom Ridge development that would have provided housing for crippled veterans in Oakland Township.  The Crippled Veterans of America – Michigan Chapter was part of the Housing Discrimination complaint against Oakland Township over the Blossom Ridge Development.

The Board’s decision to reject the Blossom Ridge Special Accommodation Request was clearly a political one. Their future support for the Memorial will probably also be based on politics.

Richard Michalski