Parks Commission action may have prevented Township Board from violating Michigan’s Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act

As reported recently, the second lawsuit against Oakland Township over the Blossom Ridge Development was filed on December 11, 2014.  One of the claims made in the filing is that:

“The Township’s disregard of and seeming inability to comprehend its FHA obligations is systematic and pervasive”

The above claim is based  a Board decision at the December 10, 2013 Board meeting to have the Parks Commission ‘refrain’ from making an offer to a potential caretaker for the Lost Lake Park.  This individual was the choice of the Parks and Recreation Commission.  The Board’s concern was the potential liability of extending this job to the recommended person since the family had young children.    

Fortunately, the Parks Commission had performed their ‘due diligence’ in getting input from the Township’s Insurance company as well as the Park Commission’s Attorney, and proceeded with their selection.  Had the Park’s Commission rejected the selected caretaker based on the Township Board’s concern, the Township could have been charged with violating the Elliot Larson Act for using familial status as a reason for not hiring the caretaker.

Here is the information included in the Moceri/DM investment LLC and Joan Buser vs. Charter Township of Oakland filing – 12/11/14:

  1. The Township’s disregard of and seeming inability to comprehend its FHA obligations is systematic and pervasive as evidenced by the following illustration.
  1. The Township owns a park with a house on a lake.
  1. For years the Township leased the house to a caretaker who lived in the house and maintained the house and park.
  1. In 2013 the Township Parks and Recreation Department hired a new caretaker and as usual agreed to the caretaker’s occupancy of the house.
  1. On December 10, 2013, twenty minutes after voting to deny a reasonable accommodation for the disabled prospective residents of Blossom Ridge, Board of Trustees Member and Township Treasurer Jeanne Langlois moved to set aside the Parks Commission’s hiring of the caretaker because the caretaker has a family including two young children, starting the following exchange:

Treasurer Langlois:   Move that the Board make a review of that potential situation [a lease of Twp property to a Family with Minor Children]…and make a motion to authorize the Township Supervisor to formally request that the Parks and Recreation Commission refrain from entering into a caretaker contract until the liability issues can be reviewed by the Township insurance agent and Township legal counsel.

Trustee Bailey:  Is this the first that you’re aware of that we have done such a thing [lease to a family with minor children]?

Treasurer Langlois:  Yes, I understand there was a caretaker in the past, there were no minor children that I know of and then the initial approval recently was for a new caretaker that did not involve a family with minor children and when that fell through this apparently prompted the Parks [commission] to look at family with 2 very small children.

Trustee Bailey:  How small are they?

Treasurer Langlois:  Six and two.

  1. The Langlois motion was approved unanimously.
  1. No Board Member mentioned the protection of families with children against housing discrimination under Federal and Michigan law. No one ventured a thought as what this action’s impact on the caretaker and his family. The caretaker would be deprived of both housing and employment. The Board wondered whether their insurance rates might be affected. They did not consider that children play in the park everyday. The Board thoughtlessly assumed that landlords of properties fronting Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes and thousands of miles of Great Lakes shoreline are exempt from Federal and Michigan laws prohibiting discrimination against families with children.
  1. The foregoing episode illustrates the current Township Board’ impenetrable indifference to its fair housing obligations. To its credit the Parks Commission ignored the Board.

Here is a copy of the Michigan Elliott-Larson Civil RIghts Act.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Only the court will determine if the example shown above will have an impact on the final decision regarding Blossom Ridge.  However, another conclusion can be made from this example.

Ever since early 2013, the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission have had separate law firms providing legal guidance.  The decision by the Parks Commission to retain their own counsel was based the Board’s confrontational actions toward the Parks Commission (some of which are involved in legal actions BETWEEN the two elected bodies).

Examples of the Board’s confrontational actions against the Parks and Recreation Commission can be seen by scrolling through the articles in the following link (this article is the first one shown, so please scroll through the entire list):

“Board vs. Parks”

Trustee Thalmann consistently points out, during her “Trustee Comments” at Board meeting, the legal expense that the Parks Commission has incurred for the month.  The contract with the Board’s legal team technically includes legal support for the Parks and Recreation Commission. She claims that the Park’s legal expenses are not necessary, since they would be covered by the contract with the Board’s legal team. It should be pointed out the the Board’s legal team did not advise the Board against making their December 10, 2013 motion.

It appears that the Parks Commission’s legal counsel, and the decision by the Parks Commission to proceed with extending the offer to the family with children, may have prevented the Township from a lawsuit involving a Elliott-Larson civil rights violation.

Oakland Township’s legal expense has increased dramatically since the new Board has come into office.  The legal fees incurred by the Parks Commission are totally eclipsed by the legal fees incurred as a result of lawsuits our Township is involved in since the new Board took office.

The Township should be grateful for the actions taken by the Parks and Recreation Commission based on the legal advice from their separate legal counsel.

Richard Michalski




7 thoughts on “Parks Commission action may have prevented Township Board from violating Michigan’s Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act

    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      Oldmoparman (John),
      I fail to see the connection between your question and the issue discussed in the posting. Clearly, you feel the Elliott-Larson Act is inappropriate. However, it IS the law!

      Thank you for sharing your opinion. Unfortunately, you are afraid to share your true identity.

      1. oldmoparman

        Unfortunately, you are afraid to post my reply. If you don’t see the connection between a current event & the ELA, then you’re just obtuse, & nothing anyone says will make any difference to you.
        The world is still waiting for your wisdom for improvements & suggestions to make things better rather than foment dissent with half-truths & selective quoting. I would also suggest that you put your efforts for running for office, rather than whining & throwing rocks at people trying to do their job. If you had someone like you when you were serving, I think your opinions would be substantially muted!

  1. richardjmichalski Post author

    Oldmoparman (John),

    I have posted everything that you have submitted, so I am not sure what you are talking about. If you typed a response on some other website, maybe you could re-enter it on this one.

    I still do not see any connection between the Blossom Ridge issue facing our Township, and the Lost Lake caretaker job offer, and your linking it to include gay, lesbian, bi & transgender people in the Elliott-Larson Act. If you do not mind ‘enlightening’ those of us who do not understand the connection, maybe the readers of this website can determine who is ‘obtuse’.

    I am sure you do not agree, but I believe this website is ‘making things better’ by making the citizens of Oakland Township aware of the “truths and quotes” that our public officials have made. This is not ‘whining and throwing rocks’, but an expression of the freedom of speech that our ‘founding fathers’ (and servicemen since then) put their lives on the line to protect.

    Regarding my record as a Planning Commission member (and Chair), I stand by everything I said and did while in my appointed position. I hope that the Board members ‘stand by’ their actions over the past 24 months. If they do, the informed citizens of Oakland Township will sweep them from office in 2016 – ‘making things better’.

    In closing, I would encourage you to have the courage to identify yourself, so the citizens of Oakland Township know who the ‘enlighten one’ is!

  2. oldmoparman

    I am glad you know whether I agree or not with what you say. So put your mouth where the money is & run for office, again. All of your “experience & leadership” is sorely needed according to you & all of your prior actions were above reproach. I sent a reply earlier that was NOT posted, hence my 2nd reply.

    Maybe you can explain how the paragon of Oakland Twp, support that wants to build Blossum, can sue the twp. for $23M over the Clarkston/Stoney Creek development because he couldn’t make as much money off it as he wanted? Never mind that the delay of the development probably saved him financially, due to the Great Recession. Please explain how can the BoT & Planning Commission, went against the wishes of a majority of residents desires? Why this developer can’t buy property & develop it without changing the zoning & density? Does he not know what he is buying? Now his lawyers are invoking every reason to sue & get what he wants to maximize the ROI. You support that, why? What are YOU and Ms. Buser getting from this? It does not look like altruism.

    YOUR interpretation & selective quotes do NOT serve to improve anything, but just indicate an opportunity for you to criticize & make innuendos, under the guise of “helping” for your political benefit. You proffer no alternatives, only complaints that sure sound like whining. Invoke freedom of speech when it suits you, throw in “servicemen” to gain additional sympathy, and otherwise NOT listen to residents.

    BTW, the ELA is now being discussed to expand it to be inclusive of LBGT people. What is your stand on supporting that? Since you refer to it, you ought to be aware of current discussions.

    If YOUR voice is the only voice of truth, justice, liberty, & the American way, then that explains a lot! I don’t think the citizens of OT care about what I have to say. But you must think that they care about what YOU have to say, to spend so much unpaid time & effort on constant criticism.

  3. richardjmichalski Post author

    Oldmoparman (John),

    You are correct, you did attempt to make two entries. The first one was at 11:48 AM (12/18/14), this morning, and the one that is shown above was entered at 12:50 PM (one hour later). THE CONTENT WAS IDENTICAL, except that in the first one, you disclosed your name as John, and in the second one, you directed your question to ‘Richard’.

    When I saw your two entries at 12:56 PM, I chose to approve the one directed to me, since the two entries were the same.

    For your information and others, comments made on this website must be approved, and that approval is not ‘real time’.

    I will not respond to your many questions that have nothing to do with the topic of this post. I will however comment that the Board, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals MUST follow the existing laws and ordinances. They cannot solely use the ‘cries of the masses’ to make their decisions. Laws and Ordinances ‘trump’ citizen opinions. Unfortunately, the Court will likely make that point painfully clear to the residents of Oakland Township.

    You have no basis for accusing my motives for supporting the Blossom Ridge Development as not altruistic. The basis for my support is the legal responsibility the Board and the Planning Commission have in allowing that type of development in our Township within the requirements of our Ordinances, State and Federal Laws. Once again, the courts will make the final determination on the issue.

    You never explained what your question about the LGBT community has to do with this post, so I will let the readers determine who is ‘obtuse’.

    Finally, I have never, and will never, run for office, so there is no personal ‘political benefit’ for me. I trust we will have many qualified candidates in the next election that will get the support of our citizens after understanding the actions of the current Board and their appointees, as documented on this website.

    May you and your family have a Joyous Holiday!
    Peace be with you!

  4. judykeyes

    As a recall, and it can be viewed via video, so all can look it up, Mrs. Anna Lisa Hollenbeck, an avid opponent to the Blossom Ridge Development, and to her credit and with all sincerity, had the courage to OPPOSE Jeanne Langlois and her ignorant motion before the vote and pointed out how unjust and unkind it was to discriminate against a family with small children who would be caretakers of public land, to deprive them of employment and a residence simply because they chose to procreate and have children and to discriminate against the idea of “family”. This motion was very surprising to me coming from Jeanne Langlois as she has 6 children and she home schools/schooled all of them. This type of family employment is something that has been done for generations on many types of public and private land. I knew a family who was a caretaker for a Federal Lighthouse. This was a clear violation of the Ellliot-Larson Civil Rights Act and the Parks Commission’s courage in ignoring the unlawful and unjust threats from the Board of Trustees, saved the Twp. from ANOTHER law suit.


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