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.
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.