Monthly Archives: January 2015

Supervisor Gonser retracts his slanderous statement against former Township Trustee

At the January 27, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser retracted the slanderous statement he made at the January 13th Board meeting against a former Oakland Township Trustee, and now private citizen.

His slanderous January 13th comments were made at the same meeting where he:

Gonser’s retraction may prevent further legal action that could be taken against him for his slanderous statement.

Here is a video of Gonser’s retraction statement:

Here is the background information:

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser made a slanderous statement toward Judy Keyes. Judy is a former Trustee who resigned in September of 2013 due to concerns she had regarding the ethical behavior of several of the Board members.

Gonser publicly said to Judy:

“You are the most disruptive person I have ever met.  You have lied on this Board, you have cheated on this Board, you have stolen money on this Board.”

At the January 27, 2015 Board meeting, Gonser retracted his January 13th statement with the following statement:

“In the heat of the moment, I lost my composure and I made statements suggesting that Mrs. Keyes lied on this Board, cheated on this Board, and stole money on this Board.

I want to make a full retraction of each of those statements.  To be clear, I have no proof that Mrs. Keyes lied, cheated or stole money on the Board, and my statements to the contrary were made in the heat of the moment and were a mistake.

I apologize to Mrs. Keyes and offer this full retraction in good faith”

He went on to say:

“I apologize to the community for the comments I made.”

Treasurer Langlois stated:

“I would like to add, so that the record shows, that the Board was not silent on this matter.”

She then made a motion, that was unanimously approved, acknowledging the Supervisor’s retraction and apology to Mrs. Keyes.

In June of 2013, the Township Board passed a “Principles of Township Governance Excellence Policy”.  The development of that Policy statement was led by former Trustee Judy Keyes.  As previously reported on this website, the Board approved it.  However, only two members of the Board agreed to sign the document (one of them was Judy Keyes, the other Sharon McKay – neither are currently on the Board).  Trustee Thalmann refused to sign it.  Supervisor Gonser indicated that the Board members did not have to sign it.

Principles of Township Governance Excellence document

What follows is a copy of the “Charter Township of Oakland Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Policy”.   

Charter Township of Oakland conflict of interest and code of ethics policy

Ideally, a community should not need these type of documents.  It appears that, even if they do exist, they have no impact on the actions of our Supervisor.

Here is a video of Gonser’s January 13th comments:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Slanderous comments are criminal and are never acceptable.  Having them come from  an elected official in Oakland Township not only reflect on Gonser’s character, but the reputation of our Township.  The citizens of Oakland Township, as well as the Board, have the duty to hold him accountable for his actions.

It appears that Gonser’s actions are ‘catching up with him’.  His comments and discussions at the January 13th meeting have apparently put him in an “attack mode”.  The saying “The best defense is a good (??) offense” appears to be his game plan.

Both Gonser and Trustee Thalmann continue to argue for a “Strong Supervisor” type of government in Oakland Township.  Gonser’s actions are a clear example of why we do not want a “Strong Supervisor” system in Oakland Township. This appears to be yet another ‘offensive” move (two interpretations possible and meant).

Another issue that needs to be clarified is whether the Township paid for the legal counsel Gonser received in developing his retraction. The citizens of Oakland Township must not be held accountable for his slanderous accusation.

Gonser’s actions cannot go unchallenged by the citizens of Oakland Township.  We certainly must remember this in the 2016 elections.

  • Can we trust the other Board members to hold Gonser accountable to his sworn oath of office and the “Principles of Township Governance Excellence”?
  • Have the citizens had enough to warrant a recall of Gonser?

Let us know your thoughts!

Richard Michalski

 

Were Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann’s negative votes a violation of their oath of office?

One of the agenda items for the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting was a proposal, by Supervisor Gonser, to have Oakland Township go to a ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of government in 2016.  Although he had it on the published agenda, he removed the item at the beginning of the meeting.

During a discussion the Board had regarding Gonser’s unilateral decision to approve the surveying of parkland in Oakland Township for a potential gas main, the ‘Strong Supervisor’ concept came up. The result of those discussions was the ‘one – two’ punch to Gonser previously reported on this website.

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members who voted against reaffirming Ordinance 97, which defines the responsibilities of the Township Manager.  When the Board was sworn into office, they swore to uphold our Ordinances.  

The following video contains excerpts of the discussions that occurred at that meeting. It is about 6 minutes long, but well worth watching if you want to understand the positions of several of our Board members.

 

Link to January 12, 2015 Oakland Press article

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Gonser placing the ‘Strong Supervisor’ issue on the agenda, then pulling it off, and his statement in the January 12th Oakland Press article, appear to have been an attempt at sabotaging the Board’s efforts to find a qualified Township Manager.

As you probably know, interviews for our Township manager position occurred on January 24th. Uncertainty regarding the potential longevity of the Township Manager position could reduce the qualified candidate pool.  Fortunately, the Board members, with the exception of Trustee Thalmann, wanted nothing to do with that uncertainty.  Treasurer Langlois, Clerk Reilly, Trustees Buxar and Bailey took very strong positions regarding Gonser’s proposal.  Trustee Giannangeli, who has been a strong supporter of Gonser to this point, made it very clear that he wants Gonser to operate in conformance with Ordinance 97.

Ordinance 97 is the Township Ordinance that defines the responsibilities of our Township Manager.  It is an ordinance that the Board has sworn to uphold.  By their statements, it is clear that the majority of the Board members feel that the Supervisor is not conforming to the Ordinance, hence the resolution to reaffirm the responsibilities of the Manager not the Supervisor.  Gonser and Thalmann voted to not to support the resolution that would reaffirm that Ordinance.

In my mind, Gonser’s many unilateral unauthorized decisions and actions without Board agreement (violating Ordinance 97), and Gonser and Thalmann’s negative vote on that resolution are violations of their oath of office.

If they do not want to conform to, and enforce, the existing Township Ordinances that they have sworn to uphold, they should resign.

Richard Michalski

Good news and bad news for Oakland Township?

THE GOOD NEWS – At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting a positive step was taken in improving the relationship between the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC).  There was an agreement made regarding the employment status and unionization efforts of PRC employees.

THE BAD NEWS – Contrary to what Supervisor Gonser stated, Trustee Bailey confirmed that unionization efforts by the Parks Commission employees occurred after the current Board was elected.  Unionization efforts are typically initiated by employees to protect themselves from  administrative’ actions and decisions.  The Parks Commission employees are considering joining a union. The Fire Fighters joined a union after the current Board came into office.

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Township Board agreed to a Tentative Settlement Agreement between the Oakland Township Board, the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission and the Michigan AFSCME Council 25, AFL-CIO.  This agreement states that the Township Parks and Recreation Commission employees are co-employed by the Parks and Recreation Commission as well as the Township.  It states that both parties (PRC and Township) ‘have the right to participate in bargaining with the proposed bargaining unit’.

This tentative agreement was negotiated as a result of a December 16, 2014 State of Michigan Employment Relations Commission Hearing. This Tenatative agreement was approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission at their December 17, 2014 meeting after the hearing.

The issue of who the Parks and Recreation employees ‘work for’ has been a contentious issue ever since the current Board of Trustees came into office in 2012.  Several members of the Board had taken the position that the PRC employees were under their control, not the Parks and Recreation Commission.  The issue had escalated to the point where legal action had been taken between the Board and the PRC.  Taxpayer money has been spent on arriving at the Tentative Agreement.

At the January 13th Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated that the unionization efforts by Township Staff was started under the former Board (the Fire Department is now unionized and the PRC employees are considering joining a union).  Trustee Michael Bailey corrected Supervisor Gonser indicating that the unionization efforts were started after this Board was elected.

Here is Gonser’s statement:

“Both the unionization of the Fire Department, and unionization of the Parks Department began under the previous administration, so that was already in place when this Board took office.  It has simply progressed from there to this point.”

One of Oakland Township citizens questioned Gonser’s choice of words asking:

“Is that a technical point?  Are you saying before you “took office”, but was it after you were elected?  Because I had understood, or heard, that there was (employee) fear based on (new Board member) positions taken.”

Gonser replied by stating:

” I don’t know if I can draw that distinction, but I do know it took place before this board took office.”

Trustee Bailey (a Trustee of the Board under the previous administration) responded by saying:

“I do not recall any discussion about unionization of Parks Commission during our tenure on previous Board.

As far as the Fire Department unionization, there were preliminary discussions, but no real action taken until after this Board came on board.”

Here is a video of that exchange:

There have been many issues between the Board and the PRC since the Board came into power in 2012.  The most egregious was Terry Gonser’s April 1, 2014 memo, sent by former Superintendant James Creech, attempting to take control of the Land Preservation fund from the PRC.  Other documented issues are referenced here:

Board vs. Parks issues

Here is a copy of the agreement.

Tentative Settlement Agreement

Unionization efforts were discussed on this website in July of 2013

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The approval of the agreement can be construed as a ‘bury the hatchet’ action by both the Township Board and the PRC.  Hopefully future actions the Board takes will keep the positive direction taken in this first step.

The only reason we were dealing with this issue is because of the attacks that Supervisor Gonser, and several other members of the Board, have taken against the Parks and Recreation Commission and employees.  Employees seek union protection when they fear actions that their ‘management’ may take.

The potential unionization of Township employees does not benefit the Township or ultimately the employees if a good working relationship with ‘administration’ can be maintained.

Supervisor Gonser’s denial that unionization efforts started when this Board was elected in 2012 is another example of him trying to distance himself from the consequences of his actions.

Hopefully the majority of the Board will continue to improve the relationship with the PRC and eliminate any further legal expense associated with asking the court system to resolve issues.

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser attacks this website (AGAIN)

During the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser, after being confronted with many issues and concerns raised by citizens and other Board members over his actions, accused this website of not being fact based and accused it of being full of lies.  This is not the first time that he has attacked this website.

Here are his comments:

“The truth just isn’t there!

Unfortunately it is more about ‘Gotcha’ and more about politics, and I am sick and tired of it.”

The author of this post made the following statement in response:

“I would like to challenge you, Mr. Gonser, to point out any false statement.

I would ask the citizens of Oakland Township to go to the website and make your own assessment as to whether the information presented is factual or not.  Everthing is based on information that is documented, opinions are based on that information.

The fact that you do not agree with the opinions doesn’t make the facts false!” (comment directed to Supervisor Gonser)

I will quote a comment posted on this website from a citizen that apparently watched the January 13th meeting:

“At the 1/13 BOT meeting, Mr Gonser implied that this website is a bunch of ‘Gotchas’. If Mr Gonser would run things ethically and with transparency there would be no “Gotchas” and in reality no need for this website.

Furthermore his statement about “Gotchas” is really an admission by himself that he gets caught doing things inappropriately.”

I could not have said it better!

Here is a video of the comments made at the meeting:

Richard Michalski

 

Gonser accuses other Board members of Open Meeting Act violation

At the January 13, 2014 BOT meeting, Supervisor Gonser made an unsubstantiated accusation that four of the Board members met outside a public meeting discussing a Resolution that was being proposed.  If this occurred, it would have been a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

 Gonser’s accusation was made after a motion to reaffirm Ordinance 97 (which defines the authority of our Township Superintendent/ Manager).  His accusation was part of a very emotional 4 minute statement when he apparently felt he was being accused of inappropriate actions.

Three of the Board members immediately challenged Gonser’s statement, and indicated that they had never met as Gonser had stated.

As previously reported on this website, the Board did take two actions to restrain Gonser’s actions to what he statutorily possesses.  They want to  ensure that the Supervisor does not perform duties outside his authorized responsibilities.  Gonser and Thalmann have made multiple attempts at expanding his authority by having the Township governance changed to a “Strong Supervisor” structure.

Here is a video of Gonser’s statement and the Board member’s response:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Gonser’s public unsupported accusation that other Board members have violated the Open Meetings Act is highly inappropriate and significant.  Given that he has made that accusation, our Township Attorney should determine if Gonser’s accusation can be supported.  If not, Gonser may have violated the Township’s ‘Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Policy’, as well as the ‘Board approved Principles of Township Governance Excellence’.

As one resident has recently stated, he believes Gonser’s actions have now escalated to the point of ‘malfeasance’.  The Board needs to hold Gonser accountable for his statement by either asking for the supporting data for his accusation, or demand a retraction of his accusation.

Gonser’s lashing out at fellow Board members, former Trustee Judy Keyes, disregarding our township attorney’s assessment, and lashing out at the accuracy of this website appear to be occurring because he is frustrated that he cannot get what he wants.

Mr. Gonser needs to understand that our Township is governed by a Strong Board through majority rule!

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser attempts to defend his lie in Rochester Post article

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, one of the agenda items was a discussion about the decision and authority to cancel the televising of the September 29, 2014 Board meeting(s).  It has previously been reported that Supervisor Gonser had cancelled the taping and televising of the meetings.  In those meetings, our former Township Manager, Ann Capela had first been fired, and later allowed to quit.  Many of the Board members did not agree with Gonser’s decision to cancel the taping of the meeting based on the resultant lack of transparency to our citizens.  They also questioned his authority to have made that decision.

When confronted with the facts about the cancellation, Supervisor Gonser acknowledged that he did call CMNtv to cancel the televising of the meetings, but then attempted to justify that decision by saying he was trying to protect Ann Capela reputation.  He made no apology for making the decision nor for lying to the Press.  In the September 29th meeting, both he and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members to not support firing Ann Capela.

The author of this post confronted Gonser in the meeting by saying that his rationale for not televising the meeting was NOT justification for lying to the Press when he said:

“It (the special meeting) was posted late on the website Sunday afternoon. There was no time to get the meeting televised.”

Here are the key video portions of this meeting regarding this issue:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Townhip?  Most of the citizens of Oakland Township do not accept or condone Gonser’s lying in the Press (there was at least one citizen at the January 13 meeting who appeared to accept Gonser’s explanation).

This is not the first time that there has been documentation that our Supervisor has lied to the public.  One previous example was reported on this website where Gonser stated he had sent a letter requesting an opinion from our State Attorney General “as an individual”.  The letter he referred to was written 8 days AFTER he made that public statement.

Gonser’s lack of understanding that his rationale for making the decision is not justification for lying to the Press.  This is proof that his value system is based on “the end justifies the means”.

Gonser appears to subscribe to Machiavellian and Nixonian principles.

This post is one of several that support the actions taken by our Township Board at the January 13th meeting to try to stop Gonser’s many unauthorized decisions.

Richard Michalski

 

The Board Deals Gonser a One-Two Punch

1/14/15

Sending a very powerful message at their Jan 13th meeting, the Board passed two targeted motions.

Punch One…

First, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution re-affirming the lawful duties of the Township Superintendent/Manager position.  The position  is defined in detail by our Ordinance 97 as the chief administrative officer position responsible for a very wide range of township business and activities.  This position description can only be changed or re-defined by an official motion by the Board of Trustees that receives a  majority vote.

Trustee Buxar introduced this resolution by saying that the law lays out:

“everything our Superintendent is supposed do and handle and what is supposed to run through that office”.

She talked about related problems in the Township:

“we have had instances of  confusion among staff members”;

“people are being told they have to run through the Supervisor’s Office”;

“that is not how this Township is setup”.

“the problem we have now is we have a Superintendent and a Supervisor that are crashing with each other”

“the direction is supposed to go to the Superintendent and that is who is supposed to be the lead  in the Township”

Treasurer Langlois added:

” We are looking for a positive, constructive way to move forward”;

“providing clarification and communication to the people and entities who need it”;

” that we do have ordinance 97 that does dictate the chain of command and structure of Oakland Township”.

There was much discussion of this resolution during which Gonser offered no substantive opinion.  He voted “OPPOSED”.  The Resolution was approved 5-2.

Supervisor Gonser opposed, by his vote,  the legal reality that the Township Superintendent is the executive administrator of the township in spite of the fact that he has sworn to uphold the law.  During the discussion it was pretty clear that members of the Board and some citizens felt that Gonser had acted in ways that were contrary to the Township Superintendent Ordinance that he has sworn to uphold.  The audience made comments that such acts amounted to malfeasance in office as defined by State law and that the Board  should censure him.  Gonser offered nothing in his own defense.

Punch Two…

Next, Treasurer Langlois made a second motion that the Clerk should distribute the Resolution just passed with a copy of Ordinance 97 to Township Employees and outside entities with which the Manager deals.  She asked that the cover letter explain that the Resolution and Ordinance specify the will of the Board of Trustees and show how governance works in Oakland Township.  Her motion further directs the Township Superintendent/Manager to make the Board aware of any deviance from the ordinance so the Board can address them. Gonser and Thalmann were alone in opposing the motion. It passed 5-2.

Citizens should celebrate this new political reality and we should show our support of the Board Members who, beginning now,  work to set our Oakland Township government on the straight course to operating according to the law and at the direction of our elected Board of Trustees.  The Board has the tools but will also need the support of the community.

I hope Supervisor Gonser comes to realize that his choices are few. He can:

  1. comply with the law, performing only his rightful duties;
  2. submit his resignation;
  3. endure repeated humiliating censure and, perhaps, his recall by the voters.

Jim Foulkrod