Supervisor Gonser appears to be placing his own political agenda over the critical needs of the community. His two planning commission nominees at the August 31, 2015 Special Board meeting do not have the critical skills that members of the Board and the Planning Commission feel are needed. He also failed to nominate qualified candidates at the September 8, 2015 Board meeting. He is choosing to ignore individuals with Township planning experience that have applied for the open Planning Commission positions.
Oakland Township’s Planning Commission currently has only five commissioners. Their combined planning experience level is less than 8 years. There should be seven members of the commission. As reported previously, Supervisor Gonser’s two nominees for the vacancies were not acceptable to the other six members of the Township Board. Neither of his nominees had enough Planning Commission or Township experience to fill the voids created by Gonser’s previous nominees to the Planning Commission.
At the special August 31, 2015 Board meeting, Gonser nominated two individuals who had no experience in Oakland Township Planning, Zoning or other subcommittee events. The Supervisor had received a total of 5 applications for the open positions well before the August 31st special Board meeting. Two of the applicants have significant Planning, Zoning, or even Township Trustee experience. Another applicant has been very involved in Oakland Township activities, and is a member of the Safety Path and Trails subcommittee. Two of the three individuals with Township planning, zoning or subcommittee experience live on large parcels in the Township.
Gonser claimed his selections were based on a need to have women on the Planning Commission, and that he wanted to nominate individuals who live on acreage. Based on Gonser’s stated reasons for his nominations, he did not find the experience of the 5 early applicants to be a compelling reason to justify their nomination. He therefore solicited applications from the two individuals he nominated at the August 31, 2015 meeting. Their applications were submitted on August 27th and 28th, just days before the meeting.
During citizen comments, an individual commented that he thought Gonser’s appointments were political. Gonser responded by saying:
“These are not political appointments. These are not political people.”
Later in the meeting, Parks and Recreation Commission member Roger Schmidt, husband of Barbara, one of Gonser’s nominees stated:
“When THEY got me in, I came home from my first (Parks and Recreation) meeting, I was not very happy, and my wife said why did one individual dislike me so much to get me on this Commission (Gonser laughs in background). Well, I did not run to be on this Commission. I ran to help people get elected on the Board because things were not going well..”
The other nominee Mrs. Landers stated:
” . . . and I think the biggest thing that I did. . . . I did have faith in a lot of people. I single handedly brought together the first ever big community ‘meet and greet’ that we had that allowed people to meet all the people that are on our Board and everything now.”
Here is a video of portions of the August 31st meeting:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? The Supervisor is disregarding the desires of the other Board members, and the seated Planning Commission members. They have indicated a need to have additional Planning experience added to the Commission. Gonser appears to be placing his own political agenda over the needs of the community, the request from his previously appointed Planning Commissioners and fellow Board members.
His two nominees may not be political people, but clearly based on the comments made at the August 31 meeting, the husband of one of them got involved in politics in order to help Gonser get elected, and the other nominee sponsored a political get together to help Gonser (and others) get elected. To Mrs. Landers credit, she did agree to serve on the Safety Path and Trails Subcommittee after it was clear her nomination was not going to be accepted.
The Board and the citizens of the community must continue to place the needs of the community over any political agenda of the Supervisor. We have qualified individuals ready and willing to serve. Let’s move forward!
P.S. Next year, we need to remember Roger Schmidt’s statement expressing his lack of interest in being on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and why he really ran for office. We need to have Parks and Recreation Commission members who are motivated for the right reason.
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Why is Gonser the only one able to make nominations? In my 48 years in O. T., no other Supervisor had this much power, or else they at least listened to suggestions from the Board, committees, and the public. Something has to change – no one person should have this much power. Very disturbing!
In the 26+ years that I was on the Oakland Township Planning Commission (last year served was in 2008), I was appointed by the entire Board after being nominated by the many Supervisors that had served our Township so well over that time period. State Law governing Townships bestows the nominating responsibility for Planning Commission members on the elected Supervisor. The nominee must then be voted on, and approved, by the entire Board before officially being appointed to the Planning Commission.
Over those 26 years, we never had a Supervisor that wanted to control everything. Terry Gonser, through his actions since being elected in 2012, has demonstrated he considers himself omniscient and omnipotent. However, he does have the authority to nominate the Planning Commission nominees.
If he fails to make nominations that satisfy the recognized needs of the Township by the rest of the Board members, I feel we will get involved in another legal conflict between the elected officials of our Township.
The solution is so obvious and simple!
You are correct, something has to change. Unfortunately, we will have to tolerate Gonser for another year. The primary elections next year will give Oakland Township citizens an opportunity to make a change. You can help by sharing your thoughts and concerns with your friends and neighbors so we have an informed electorate next summer.