In January this year the Board passed a resolution re-affirming the long-time Township ordinance that places responsibility for managing the township squarely in the office of the professional full-time manager hired by the Board of Trustees. It sent a clear message to Supervisor Gonser that he should act in accordance with the law. The Township Manager was directed to inform the Board of any deviance from that ordinance by the elected Supervisor. There has been no public follow up to this resolution. There have been no facts made public that would indicate that the resolved will of the Board of Trustees has or has not been followed.
What there has been is a constant drumbeat of statements, events and indications that Gonser is not following the law. It is Gonser’s sworn duty uphold the law and to perform the duties of his office to the best of his abilities. If he is not then the facts must come out and appropriate action must be taken.
I call on the Board of Trustees to launch an official investigation to ascertain with documented facts whether Supervisor Gonser has exceeded the authority of his office. They should call for a thorough search of emails, calendars, phone logs, official documents and correspondence to see whether Gonser has exercised illegal authority or claimed improper responsibility for any facet of any of the enumerated duties of the Township Manager.
I hope they will call on me to testify that I know that he has intentionally violated the ordinance because I had a conversation with Supervisor Gonser earlier this year in which he told me that he was not abiding by the law. I had gone to his office hours to ask if he had Board authorization to meet with the Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) to discuss his proposal to surface some gravel roads with a “chip-seal” material to improve their durability. Gonser had spoken at a community meeting about this proposal and his intent to work with the RCOC on this project. This type of township business is clearly the authority of the full-time Township Manager under our Ordinance 97. When I asked him if the Board gave him authority in this matter he said no, but it doesn’t matter because the people who voted for him expected him to be the “leader of the Township” and they would not have voted for him if they knew that all he could do was “chair the meetings”. He said he was doing the will of the voters.
I hope that they will ask Trustee Ferriolo to detail the facts behind his email to the Rochester Post that reportedly said “Our township operates on a similar system of government as Rochester, and Mr. Gonser refuses to accept his limited role under it.”
I hope that Treasurer Langlois and Trustee Buxar will go public with the facts that they described that led them to propose the above mentioned Resolution that demanded that Gonser act according to the law.
I hope that the Trustees who devised the interview questions that were asked of all the candidates who were interviewed for the Township Manager’s position about how they would handle this disagreement about legal authority in the Township will speak in detail about what they know that made it important to ask those questions.
I hope that outgoing Township Manager Warren Brown will be asked to detail, on the record, any violations of Ordinance 97 that he has knowledge of. He was informed of the problem during his interview process and he responded clearly about how he would handle the problem.
This is public business and the Board of Trustees must stop relying on toothless Resolutions. What is going on is not a secret but the hard actionable facts are being withheld from the public, This is not an academic argument. Gonser has harmed the Township with this behavior and it is truly in the best interests of Oakland Township to put and end to it. Effective action is required.