Sending a very powerful message at their Jan 13th meeting, the Board passed two targeted motions.
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.
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:
- comply with the law, performing only his rightful duties;
- submit his resignation;
- endure repeated humiliating censure and, perhaps, his recall by the voters.
As I’ve said before, I don’t see Gonser as a “bad person,” he just has a view of township governance that I happen not to share and would not like to see implemented. His intentions may be good, at least in his own view, but they don’t coincide with my own. I’m glad to see the other board members speaking up and keeping things in proper perspective,
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