Supervisor Gonser thwarts promised transparency in Oakland Township

As previously posted on this website, our former Township Manager, Ann Capela, resigned after the September 29, 2014 Special Board meeting. Neither the Special meeting nor the Budget Workshop (that had been scheduled to be televised and taped) were televised or taped (or even audio recorded). It has been determined that Supervisor Gonser was the one who made the decision to CANCEL the video taping and televising of this very important meeting, contrary to his statement in the Press that there was “no time to get the meeting televised’ .

Here are the details:

A 6 PM televised Oakland Township Board Budget Workshop had been planned and scheduled for September 29, 2014.

A day or two before the meeting, several Board members determined that they wanted to have a special meeting (that would include a closed hearing, at the request of Ann Capela) to:

” consider a periodic personnel evaluation of a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual agent”

The official posting of the special 5:30 PM meeting met the timing requirements for notification to the public.

Based on documents obtained through the FOIA process, here are the records of communications that took place the day of the meetings:

  • At 2:15 PM on September 29th, Supervisor Gonser made a 4 minute call to the CMNtv Executive Director. (CNMtv is responsible for taping and televising our Township meetings at the direction of the Township.)
  • At 2:20 PM on September 29th, Jamie Moore, a member of the Township staff, sent an email to the CMNtv Executive Director stating, “Terry said you were looking for the agenda for tonight.” She attached the link to the agenda for the 5:30 meeting.
  • At 2:31 PM the Executive Director responded to Jamie’s email and acknowledged receipt of the email.
  • At 2:59 PM Supervisor Gonser made a 2 minute call to the CMNtv Executive Director.

The two meetings scheduled for that day were neither taped or televised, even though the Budget Workshop had previously been scheduled for being taped and televised.

As reported in the minutes of the two meetings, Ann Capela’s contract had been terminated during the open portion of the Special meeting, but during the ‘Old Business’ portion of the Budget Workshop meeting, her ‘termination’ was revised to accept her ‘resignation’.

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members who voted against Ann Capela’s termination. The later vote to accept her resignation was unanimously approved.

In the October 9, 2014 Rochester Post, Supervisor Gonser is quoted as saying,

“It (the special meeting) was posted late on the website Sunday afternoon. There was no time to get the meeting televised.”

At the October 14, 2104 BOT meeting, Treasurer Langlois, stated that Gonser’s statement was inaccurate. She said:

“So, in fact, not having a video tape of the meeting was not due to a lack of time, but apparently due to an earlier administrative decision.”

At the November 17, 2014 BOT meeting, she went on to say:

“We (the Board) discovered, after the fact, that a decision was made to cancel the video taping of the meeting.”

Here is the video of Treasurer Langlois’ comments:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? The Township is suppose to be managed by our hired Township Manager (under the leadership of our Board). Other than the election of our officials, there is probably no more important decision that affects our Township. Yet, Supervisor Gonser, who ran on improving ‘transparency’ in our Township made the decision to not televise or record this very important meeting.

Supervisor Gonser has claimed the decision to televise meetings is consistent with his campaign promise to improve transparency. However, his unilateral decision to cancel the televising of this very significant meeting, and then stating in the Press that “there was not time to get the meeting televised” is another clear example of his character and real feelings about transparency.

His decision to not record or televise this meeting reminds me of the statement he made in a previous meeting where he said “Process is everything”. This is yet another example of Gonser’s ‘selective’ use of processes aimed at accomplishing his own hidden agendas.

So much for transparency and ethics under our current Supervisor!

Richard Michalski

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