Legal review underway to determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to commit Township to significant financial liability without Board knowledge or approval

At the June 14, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting, Treasurer Langlois disclosed that on September 3, 2014, Supervisor Gonser signed a safety path easement agreement with a property owner to transfer “all responsibility and liability for the safety path and boardwalk to the Township and its residents”.  This agreement was done without any knowledge, or agreement, from the Township Board.  

The agreement could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost to the Township in repair and/or replacement of that badly deteriorated path.  The property involved is on the Southwest corner of Adams and Silverbell Roads.   The parcel is currently owned by a Moceri entity. It was purchased from the church on that corner approximately 90 days after the easement was signed. The easement document that the Supervisor signed indicates that it was prepared by an employee of a Moceri entity.  (The ownership information was corrected after the initial post.   The change in ownership was incorrectly stated as just the opposite of what is now correctly stated.)

Treasurer Langlois stated there is no evidence of a Board review, or a Legal review of this matter (the Township attorney did not appear to have any knowledge of the agreement).  She also stated:

“I do not believe Supervisor Gonser had, or has, the authority to accept easements on behalf of the Township.  Only the Board of Trustees has that authority. The document appears to show an overreach on the part of the Supervisor, and a complete improper action.”

Supervisor Gonser sat silent for almost 3 minutes while others spoke before he stated:

“Unfortunately I don’t remember why I signed it.  I can only state that it certainly did not come in a vacuum.  Someone had to present it to me and indicated it was appropriate to sign, but I don’t remember the specifics of it.” 

He made no attempt at explaining why he did not bring it to the Board for approval, or even for information.

Trustee Ferriolo stated:

“No matter what was involved in the history and rationale for doing it, it should have been brought to the Board.”

The Township attorney has agreed to perform an investigation on this issue and will report out at the next meeting scheduled for June 28, 2016.

 

Here is a video of the June 14th discussion:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  We certainly must wait for the results of the Legal investigation to be complete before we draw any final conclusions, but Supervisor Gonser’s signature, and lack of willingness to inform the entire Board of his actions, is consistent with previous behavior.

This website has reported that Supervisor Gonser has repeatedly attempted to change the governance structure of Oakland Township to one where he would become a full time “Strong Supervisor”. He has taken several unilateral actions without Board approval.  The Board has repeatedly responded by reaffirming Ordinance 97, which limits the Supervisor’s responsibilities, and maintains a professional Township manager who reports to the entire Board.

Here are some key points:

  • This easement agreement will certainly result in significant added costs to our Township.
  • It appears to have been made unilaterally without Board knowledge or agreement.
  • Under normal conditions, Gonser’s action could have resulted in a recall campaign being held.
  • Gonser is currently a candidate for election on August 2nd.
  • The Absentee ballots are going out on June 29th.
  • It is essential that the Legal review be completed by the June 28th Board meeting,
  • It is absolutely essential that we get adequate press coverage immediately after the June 28th meeting, so people can make an informed decision prior to sending in their absentee ballot.

My recommendation is that the Board be prepared to issue a press release on June 29th to the Oakland Press and the Rochester Post informing them of the outcome of the investigation.  If there are acceptable reasons for Gonser’s signature, there may be no need for the press release.  However, the press release may still be necessary since Gonser should have brought it to the Board for information.

The citizens need to have a clear understanding of this situation before they vote!

Richard Michalski

4 thoughts on “Legal review underway to determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to commit Township to significant financial liability without Board knowledge or approval

  1. Maryann Whitman

    Thanks for this Richard. Do you have any information forthcoming on the Parks Millage Renewal–up for vote on Aug 2?

    Reply
    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      Hi Maryann, I will check to find out what the PRC has put together on the Parks Millage renewal and either post it, or send you a copy.

      Reply
  2. judykeyes

    I would like to know how a document like this was filed within our township without Clerk Reilly and her staff recognizing the inapprotriateness of its origins and procedure. Moceri’s firm drafted it! This shows a complete lack of adherence to policy and procedures and maybe even the law. Where is Clerk Reilly in all this? Her silence, once again, is deafening. She did not even try to shed any light on this. Also, I would like to hear from the candidates running for Supervisor and Clerk with their responses to this latest overreach of Terry Gonser and a remedy for it. I understand we are waiting for a legal review from Dan Kelly, but I know from personal experience that Dan Kelly never forgets who is putting the butter on his bread and he becomes most selective as to which facts he makes public. We shall see. As a taxpayer, I am not in agreement to this new financial and liability burden that has been placed on Oakland Township residents without public input or proper vetting, yet again.

    Reply
  3. Marty Rosalik

    This is without any doubt the largest blunder of this fool to date. Is he that disconnected from reality? Is he inept? Did he think that he had imperial authority? Did he just not even read it or comprehend what that meant? Did he do it knowingly and deliberately to circumvent proper scrutiny? Did he just NOT care?

    For any and all of those questions, he is not worthy to have another term. This one can NOT end fast enough! This really stinks!

    Reply

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