Category Archives: Shopping for Legal Opinions

Supervisor Gonser’s conflict of interest vote

As discussed on a previous post on this website, the Township Board agreed to pay for Supervisor Gonser’s personal legal fees for his unauthorized efforts to obtain an Attorney General opinion on the Blossom Ridge matter.  The results of the vote was 5 to 2.  Supervisor Gonser participated in the vote.  He was one of the 5 votes agreeing to have the Township pay that expense. 

At the October 22, 2013 meeting, the author of this post requested Supervisor Gonser explain to the citizens of Oakland Township why he felt it was appropriate for him to vote on an issue for which he personally benefitted.  He refused to disclose his reason in public.  He ended by saying:

“Fortunately, I do not answer to you!”

“This Board speaks through our motions”

“That order of business is done!”

The author’s question was raised on behalf of the citizens of Oakland Township.  He DOES answer to all of us!  His lack of action and comments reflect his arrogance and authoritarian style that has been documented in so many other issues on this website.  The Supervisor’s comments clearly implicate the entire Board in their complicity to this unethical behavior.

Here are the video elements from the October 22 meeting on this matter:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If an elected official votes on an issue that he/she personally benefits from, it is a conflict of interest.  Supervisor Gonser’s open denial to answer the question raises serious questions on his ethics and hidden motivations or “agendas” on other issues before the Board.  Once again, this action is  coming from someone who ran on a platform of transparency.

Richard Michalski

Township Board approves Supervisor Gonser’s “personal” legal fee

As reported on other posts/ pages on this website, Supervisor Gonser had requested an opinion from the Attorney General on the Blossom Ridge Development.  The Board had originally authorized that request, but later rescinded it.  After being rescinded, Gonser continued to pursue getting an unauthorized opinion, first acting as the Supervisor and then “as an individual”.  

The Township attorney billed the Township for this service.  Trustee Keyes challenged the billing for this service.  At the October 8th Board meeting, Trustee Keyes explained why it was inappropriate for the Township to pay for Gonsers’ personal legal fee.  She made a motion to have him repay the Township.  The Board rejected her motion on a 5 to 2 vote.  

Trustee Keyes and McKay were the only ones who voted to have Gonser repay the Township.  Even though Supervisor Gonser personally benefited from the defeat of this motion, he voted on the motion.  He did not abstain as would have been appropriate.

On April 15th, the author of this post raised questions regarding Gonser’s authority to make the request.  Here is a copy of the ‘logic tree’ I used in my comments at that meeting:

Questions on authority for AG opinion

At that meeting, he stated, he sent the memo “as an individual”.  The copies of the two memos sent, as well as the billing from the Township Attorney, indicate that Gonser did not send the letter “as an individual” until 8 days after he claimed he had sent it.  He was clearly trying to ‘cover his tracks’.  

I have attached a file that is a ‘fact check’ comparing Gonser’s statement at the September 24th meeting, and previous Board meeting comments and other supporting documentation.  Here is the “fact check’ document:

Fact check for AG opinion

Yet with all this as background, the Board agreed to have the Township pay for his personal legal fee.   What could be the motivation for their approval since they had previously rescinded the authority?  Their approval clearly appears to violate their oath of office.

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  With all the facts presented by Trustee Keyes, there does not seem to be any justified reason for the Trustee’s approving the payment for Gonser’s legal fees. What hidden agenda’s were driving their decision?  Was there a decision made outside an open meeting authorizing Gonser to proceed with the Attorney General request?  Gonsers’ vote on the matter is clearly a conflict of interest, and violates his oath of office.

Richard MIchalski

Oakland Township pays Supervisor Gonser’s ‘personal’ legal fee!

Earlier this year, Supervisor Gonser tried to obtain an opinion from the Michigan Attorney General regarding the need for the referendum on the Blossom Ridge Development issue.  

Supervisor Gonser did not have the Board’s approval to obtain that opinion.  At the April 15th Board meeting Supervisor Gonser was questioned on the authority for sending that request.  He indicated that he had sent the letter “as an individual”.

However, on September 10, Trustee Keyes pointed out that the Township had been charged for the legal services for Supervisor Gonser’s letter.  Our Township Attorney provided those services to Supervisor Gonser.

The author of this post requested that Supervisor Gonser repay the Township the $1,693 for his legal fee.  Supervisor Gonser’s response was:


Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Township should not be responsible for legal expenses for any Trustee who is pursuing an issue “as an individual”.

This is  especially true given the misrepresentation that Supervisor Gonser made regarding the earlier request for an Attorney General opinion.

Please click on the following link to learn more about Supervisor Gonser’s attempts at obtaining an Attorney General opinion:

Do you think the Township should pay his legal fees?

Richard Michalski