Category Archives: Ethics

Board Resolution – Acts By Rogers, Thalmann “Repudiated” as a “Breach of Trust” . Gonser’s inactions termed “improper”

The Oakland Township Board of Trustees, at their July 28th meeting, voted 6-0 (Gonser absent) to approve a resolution stating “There has been an inappropriate release of privileged and confidential and/or Attorney/Client protected communications which constitutes a Breach of Trust and is hereby repudiated.” and  further “It is improper to fail to disclose any unauthorized receipt of privileged communications prior to entering deliberations pertaining to matters discussed in the communications.”.

Background

The reasons for the resolution are  the April 28th 2015  findings of an investigation,  authorized by the Board of Trustees on March 24th 2015, conducted by Township Staff and the Attorneys for the Township and the Parks Commission that found:

  • Supervisor Gonser improperly received three emails pertaining to Parks Commission Closed Sessions or containing Parks Commission Attorney/Client privileged communications;
  • Trustee Thalmann had  sent three emails pertaining to Parks Commission or Board of Trustee Closed Sessions or containing  Attorney/Client privileged communications to (variously) Commissioner Rogers, Supervisor  Gonser  and/or unauthorized private citizens.
  • Thalmann had received two emails from Commissioner Rogers pertaining to Parks Commission Closed Sessions or containing  Attorney/Client privileged communications.
  • Commissioner Rogers sent six emails pertaining to Parks Commission Closed Sessions or containing  Attorney/Client privileged communications to (variously) Trustee Thalmann, Supervisor Gonser and/or unauthorized private citizens.

The Parks Commission and the Board of Trustees reviewed these findings at a April 28th 2015 joint meeting and forwarded them to the Oakland County Prosecutor. The Prosecutor’s office reported back on July 15th 2015 that “no basis exists for criminal prosecution and…no laws have been violated.”.

Commissioner Rogers and former Trustee Thalmann, who had resigned during this time period, each stated in various public meetings that they had done nothing wrong, were totally exonerated and were owed apologies.  They did not dispute the findings of the investigation that they had violated  Attorney/Client Confidentiality and Privilege.  They dismissed that as unimportant.

The Board of Trustees felt that, criminal or not, the behavior was improper and important and called for Board action which was taken with the 7/28/15 Resolution.

What are we to think about this? 

We all know about Attorney/Client Confidentiality.  Is it really, as Rogers and Thalmann seem to think,  a matter unworthy of their concern when they are doing the citizen’s business?  We must think not. It is not immaterial.  It is not just a detail.  We would not be alone in being concerned with their attitude.  In an Article “What Attorney-Client Privilege Really Means” by the global law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP I found this:

The attorney-client privilege is the oldest privilege recognized by Anglo-American jurisprudence. In fact, the principles of the testimonial privilege may be traced all the way back to the Roman Republic, and its use was firmly established in English law as early as the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Grounded in the concept of honor, the privilege worked to bar any testimony by the attorney against the client.

A legal concept grounded in honor that has been fundamental to jurisprudence in Western Civilization for over five hundred years deserves our respect. Public Officials, elected by the people, cannot act as though it does not apply to them.

Perhaps these breaches of trust had their origin in the leadership,  People who lead an organization have the responsibility to set an example for the practice of strong ethics. Gonser did not inform the Board that he had improperly received protected communications about matters which were immediately important to him.  Also, Supervisor Gonser had, until recently, refused to abide by the Township’s Ordinance 97 which limits the elected Supervisor’s authority with regard to conducting Township business.  He made many decisions and did many things for which he had no authority.  In conversation with me last Spring he explained himself saying that he was elected by people who don’t know that the Supervisor’s power is limited and that they expect him to “be the leader of the Township” and that they didn’t elect him “just to chair meetings and ride in parades”.  Rogers and Thalmann may have just been following a bad example.

Taking another step up the chain of responsibility, lets look at ourselves, the voters.  We elected Rogers, Thalmann and Gonser either by voting in the 2012 August Primary or by not showing up.  At that time the Township had over 12 thousand registered voters.  How many votes did it take for these people to get elected?

  • Gonser  – 1784 votes – 14% of the electorate;
  • Thalmann – 1534 votes -12%  of the electorate;
  • Rogers – 1315 votes -11%  of the electorate.

What Can We Do?

The August 2016 Primary Election is 12 months away.  It is an important election because, in Oakland Township, for whatever reason, our local elections seldom attract Democrat candidates, so the November Elections for Local Offices are not competitive contests. Our Local elections are decided in August.

Let’s learn from these events.  Get active, Get informed, Get on the Ballot, Get to know the Candidates and Get Out The Vote in August.

Jim Foulkrod

Parks Commissioners’ lawsuit against fellow Commission members rejected by Judge for second time

On May 14, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Honorable Leo Bowan rejected, for the second time, the lawsuit filed by Oakland Township Parks Commissioners Ann Marie Rogers and Roger Schmidt, as well as resident Beth Markel, claiming that fellow Parks Commission members had violated the Open Meetings Act.  The original lawsuit was filed in February of 2014.  Hopefully this issue is now behind us.

As previously reported on this website, and in the Oakland Press, Ann Marie Rogers shared ‘Privileged and Confidential’ material with co-plaintiff Beth Markel, former Trustee Thalmann and Supervisor Gonser.  These communications occurred during the litigation period. The matter is being further investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office for possible legal action against Commissioner Rogers and former Trustee Thalmann.

Here is some background on this lawsuit:

  • On February 28, 2014, two Parks and Recreation members, Ann Marie Rogers and Roger Schmidt, along with Beth Markel, the wife of Zoning Board of Appeals member John Markel, (the plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit claiming that PRC members Dave Mackley, Colleen Barkham, Alice Tomboulian and Joseph Peruzzi (the defendants) violated the Open Meeting act through email correspondence.
  • On December 2, 2014, the defendants filed for ‘summary disposition’ of the case.
  • On December 3, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a cross motion for ‘summary disposition’.
  • On February 13, 2015, Circuit Court Judge Honorable Leo Bowan granted the defendants request for summary disposition and dismissed the case. He also dismissed the plaintiff’s request for cross summary disposition as “moot”.

Here is a copy of the February 13, 2015 legal ruling for the lawsuit:

20150213_opinion_fld_ord-grnt_dft_mtn_sd_100867059

  • On March 4, 2014, the plaintiffs made a motion for reconsideration in the decision.
  • On May 14, 2015, the Judge found:

“This Court finds that plaintiffs’ present motion fails to demonstrate a palpable error by which this Court and the parties have been misled.”

The Judge goes on to say:

“This Court finds that the defendants’ reasoning and arguments in their response to the motion for reconsideration accurately states why this Court granted their  – not plaintiffs –  summary disposition.”

Here is a copy of the May 14, 2015 legal ruling for the lawsuit:

20150514 50_Opinion and Order re Motion for Reconsideration

During this time period, Ann Marie Rogers shared a number of ‘Privileged and Confidential’ documents with Beth Markel, Maureen Thalmann, and Supervisor Gonser.  Some of this information pertained to ‘Closed Session’ legal matters.  Here are copies of the Township Attorneys’ discoveries regarding inappropriate sharing of “Privileged and Confidential” material.

Investigation results from PRC attorney

Investigation results from Township Board’s attorney

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? The Judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit raised by Commissioners Ann Marie Rogers, Roger Schmidt and private citizen Beth Markel, vindicate the other Parks Commission members.  This lawsuit has cost the Township in the form of legal fees and reputation.

Ann Marie Rogers disclosure of ‘Privileged and Confidential’ material with a fellow plaintiff and others is under review by the Oakland County Sheriff Office.  This matter appears to be much more serious than the alleged open meeting act violations that she claimed occurred.  The Judge made his decision on the open meeting matter.  It is now up to the Sheriff’s Office to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecutorial action.

Hopefully our citizens will consider the actions of our current Township officials when we vote in 2016.  Oakland Township deserves better!

Richard Michalski

 

Reason for Parks Commissioner Rogers removal from personnel committee now apparent – so why did Schmidt and Rogers storm out of meeting in protest?

The recent findings from the Oakland Township Attorneys’ investigation into the forwarding of Privileged and Confidential material by Parks Commissioner Rogers and former trustee Thalmann shed light on some of the proceedings at the January 14, 2015 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.  Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt stormed out of that Commission meeting in protest to Ann Marie being removed from Personnel Committee.

At the January 14th meeting, one of the agenda items was the approval of the Chairman Zale’s recommended committee members.  He has the authority to make recommendations, but they must be approved by a majority vote of the Commission.

Chairman Zale recommended that Commissioner Rogers be replaced by Commissioner Perruzi on the Personnel Committee.  Former (in office at that time) Trustee Thalmann attempted to influence Mr. Zale.  However, Mr. Zale indicated he wanted Mr. Perruzi to be on that committee.  Commissioner Rogers objected to the change, and the change was approved in a 5 to 2 vote. Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt were in the minority.

Commissioner Schmidt indicated he did not agree with how the proceedings went, and suggested he would disclose some information that would make visible to the citizens of Oakland Township the reasons for Mr. Zale’s recommendation.

In protest, Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt walked out of the meeting. As they were walking out Mr. Schmidt stated:

“You people are the worst bunch of conniving people that I have ever met in my entire life! “

Earlier he said he wanted to make sure the Commission would be

“accountable for what you have done!”

Here is a video of meeting proceedings as described above:

 

Mr. Schmidt never did present the material that he alluded to in his comment, but the results of the Township Attorneys’ investigation, specifically Ms. Rogers sharing the November 13, 2015 ‘attorney client’ protected documents, gives a very clear indication of the reasons for Mr. Zale’s recommendation.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Chairman Zale had the authority to make subcommittee appointments.  Mr. Zale clearly had reasons for making his recommendations.

Walking out of a meeting in the manner that both Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Rogers did is not only unprofessional, but may have violated their oath of office.

Commissioner Schmidt has aligned himself with Ms. Rogers on many issues.  I trust he feels that same way about ‘accountability’ now that Commissioner Rogers’ actions are being investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s office.

Oakland Township would be well served if Commissioner Rogers steps down.

Richard Michalski

Related article:

Former Trustee Thalmann and Current Park’s Commissioner Rogers DID forward “Privileged and Confidential” material!

Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers attempts to defend her behaviour

In the May 7, 2015 Oakland Press website posting titled,

Report: Oakland Township Parks Commissioner shared confidential emails’,

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers attempted to defend her forwarding of ‘privileged and confidential’ material to others by saying she never signed anything preventing her from doing that.  Here is a portion of that article:

Rogers noted she was never asked to sign an agreement stating she not share attorney-client communications following her 2012 election to the board.

The wording in the ‘Privileged and Confidential’ statements attached to legal documents always makes it clear what is not to be done with those documents. It appears Commissioner Rogers did not believe it applied to her.

Comments made by others involved in this recent Oakland Township issue appear to shed some light on their value systems.

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Our elected and appointed official’s actions should be based on a generally accepted value system and must be held accountable for their actions.

It is surprising that Parks Commissioner Rogers, after serving on the Parks Commission for over two years, states she was never asked to sign an agreement stating she not share attorney-client communications.  She apparently does not feel anything wrong was done, and has not read the ‘privileged and confidential’ statements on the documents she received.

In an earlier Oakland Press article, former Trustee Thalmann stated she thought she was ‘collateral damage’ and the issue would all ‘go away’ if she resigned. She too apparently does not feel anything wrong was done, and had not read the ‘privileged and confidential’ statements on the documents she received and forwarded.

Here is that Oakland Press article:

Oakland Township board to send email confidentiality breach findings to sheriff’s office

Finally, the husband of the third party involved in receiving some of the ‘privileged and confidential’ material (including ‘closed session’ material) has attempted to justify at various Township meetings, his wife’s receipt of the material, by claiming since they were emails, they were “on a server”, and therefore not secure. He apparently does not feel anything wrong was done.  He has asked that in the future all ‘privileged and confidential’ material be hand delivered in paper form, no emails.  This individual is also a member of the Oakland Township Zoning Board of Appeals, who occasionally receives legal ‘privileged and confidential’ material. Hopefully he has read and understands the wording in the ‘privileged and confidential’ statements.

It is amazing the logic individuals use when they try to justify their unjustifiable behavior.

Oakland Township deserves the best elected and appointed officials.  We hope Commissioner Rogers steps down and a new Commissioner is selected.  We also hope the Oakland Township Board makes a good selection for the vacant seat on the Board in the upcoming meetings.

Richard Michalski

 

Did Supervisor Gonser commit an act of ‘omission’ regarding the sharing of Privileged and Confidential material?

In the recent documents that the two Oakland Township attorneys disclosed as a result of their investigation into the sharing of ‘privileged and confidential’ material by two of our elected officials, the data confirms that Supervisor Gonser was on distribution for some of those documents as early as April 9, 2014.  Unfortunately, documents continued to be shared as late as November 13, 2014.  

One of our citizens has commented at Board meetings, that this situation may have involved acts of ‘commission’ by some and acts of ‘omission’ by others.  The Sheriff’s investigation will determine if illegal acts were committed by former Trustee Thalmann and current Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers.  

The Sheriff’s Department probably will not find any illegal behavior by  Supervisor Gonser for his lack of taking action after receiving the documents identified in the attorneys’ findings. However, Gonser should have known that the sending of the documents was inappropriate, as well as his reading them, and should have informed the senders that they should not be sharing that information.  It appears that communication did not occur.  

So it is left to the citizens to determine if Supervisor Gonser’s lack of responding to the inappropriate emails were acts of ‘omission’ as described by one of our citizens.  We are also left trying to understand why he did not take action. 

Here are the two attorney’s findings:

Investigation results from Township Board’s attorney

Investigation results from PRC attorney

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser’s apparent lack of responding to the inappropriate emails leads the author of this post to the conclusion that he either was:

  • interested in receiving the information,
  • ignorant of the fact that these communications were potentially illegal, or
  • felt no responsibility for stopping the potentially illegal actions.

It is hard to believe the second conclusion, since the communications on October 15, 2015 from PRC Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers dealt with Parks and Recreation “CLOSED SESSION” legal opinions.  Gonser knows that disclosing “Closed Session” material is illegal.

If Gonser did not feel he had any responsibility, as Township Supervisor, to stop the sending of the emails, one might question his understanding of his oath of office. Don’t we all have the responsibility to call out improper and potentially illegal behavior, especially by an elected official?

As previously reported, Gonser was the only Board member to vote against having the joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Commission to disclose the findings of the investigation.

Trustee Thalmann’s resignation and legal investigation

The citizens of Oakland Township must draw their own conclusions on whether Gonser committed an act of ‘omission’, and his motivation for not having put a stop to the sending of ‘privileged and confidential’ communications.

Richard Michalski

Former Trustee Thalmann and Current Park’s Commissioner Rogers DID forward “Privileged and Confidential” material!

At the April 28, 2015 joint Oakland Township Board and Oakland Township Parks and Recreation meeting, the attorneys for both bodies presented their findings regarding the investigation into whether any Township Officials had improperly, and potentially illegally, forwarded “Privileged and Confidential” material to others.  Their findings indicated that both former Trustee Maureen Thalmann and current Parks and Recreation Commission member Ann Marie Rogers had forwarded multiple documents.  In some cases this information had been shared with an individual who is part of a lawsuit against the Township, the wife of one of our Zoning Board of Appeals members.

The Board and the Commission agreed that the attorneys’ findings would be made public, and that the information would be forwarded to the Oakland County Sheriff’s office for possible further investigation and legal action.

As previously reported, Maureen Thalmann resigned from the Board a few weeks after the investigation was initiated by the Board.  Park’s Commissioner Rogers continues to hold her seat as one of our seven elected Parks Commissioners.

Here are video excerpts from the April 28th joint meeting:

 

Here is a copy of the results of the investigation by Township Board’s attorney:

Investigation results from Township Board’s attorney

Here is a copy of the results of the investigation by the Parks and Recreation attorney:

Investigation results from PRC attorney

Here is a link to an Oakland Press article published on April 30.  The article states that Thalmann claims she was told the issue would “all go away” if she resigned.

Oakland Press article dated April 30, 2015

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This website has been reporting on many inappropriate actions by some of our Board members.  This most recent confirmation of inappropriate actions certainly indicates that “all is not well” in Oakland Township.  The elected officials of Oakland Township need to pursue potential legal charges, to the full extent of the law, so we demonstrate that Oakland Township has a governance body that obeys the laws.

Former Trustee Thalmann apparently feels that there was no wrongdoing, since she believed the issue would “all go away” if she resigned.  Really??

Former Trustee Thalmann has resigned!  Current Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers should do the same!

Here is an earlier post pertaining to this subject:

Trustee Thalmann’s resignation and legal investigation

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser makes false accusations again!!!!

When Trustee Buxar and Treasurer Langlois requested in investigation into the inappropriate sharing of ‘privileged and confidential’ material between Supervisor Gonser, Trustee Thalmann and Park’s Commissioner Ann Marie Rogers at the March 24, 2015 Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser responded by implying that fellow Board members may have provided inappropriate material to two private citizens – the author of this post and Robert Yager.  One of these accusations was immediately challenged and confirmed to be false by Trustee Buxar and the Township Attorney.  He ALREADY knew that his statement was false, since how those records were obtained had previously been discussed by the Board, and he had participated in that discussion.  The second accusation was confirmed to be false at the April 14th Board meeting by the Township Attorney.  In both cases the information was obtained legally by Robert Yager and myself without any inappropriate actions by Board members, Robert Yager or myself.

Here is a video of the proceedings from the two meetings:

 

 

These false accusations by our Supervisor are the latest in a series of false statements by Supervisor Gonser.  Several additional examples are documented below.

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  We expect our elected officials to be truthful and honest in their actions and statements.  It appears that Supervisor Gonser believes that his best defense is a good offense (even if his statements prove to be false).

This behavior is not new.  At the March 10, 2015 Board meeting, he falsely accused Trustee Buxar of not supporting road improvements when her appointment to the road improvement subcommittee was being discussed.

Another example is when, at the January 13, 2015 Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser falsely accused four other Board members of violating the Open Meetings Act (OMA).

Supervisor Gonser accuses other Board members of violating OMA.

One of his more notable false accusation was recently reported on this website when he made false accusations against former Trustee Judy Keyes.

Supervisor Gonser retracts his slanderous statement against former Township Trustee

Oakland Township deserves better!  Maybe it is time for our Supervisor to join former Trustee Thalmann by submitting his resignation letter too!

A person's actions tell you everthing you need to know

Richard Michalski

 

Trustee Thalmann’s resignation and legal investigation

At the April 14, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser announced that Trustee Maureen Thalmann had submitted a letter of resignation.  The Board voted 6 to 0 to accept her resignation.  Supervisor Gonser commented that Thalmann resigned for family reasons and that she is spending time promoting a book that she recently had published.

It should be mentioned that one month ago Maureen Thalmann was named as one of the subjects of an investigation into the sharing of confidential, attorney-client privileged documents with un-authorized persons.  At the April 14th meeting, the attorney’s findings prompted a motion by Treasurer Langlois to schedule a joint meeting between the Township Board and Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) to review the results of the investigation and determine what action, if any, needed to be taken.  The Board voted, 5 to 1, to schedule a Township Board closed session meeting, followed by a joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Commission.  Supervisor Gonser was the sole objecting vote.

Here is some additional background on this topic:

    • At the March 10, 2015 Board meeting, Parks Commission member Ann Marie Rogers used ‘personal, private and/or confidential’ phone records when making several accusations against Trustee Buxar.
    • At the March 24th Board meeting, Trustee Buxar presented the results of an investigation into how Parks Commissioner Rogers obtained the phone records.  Here is a summary of her findings:

–  Because Anne Marie Rogers is involved in a lawsuit against the Township, in October of 2014, Ann Marie Rogers was informed that ANY request she made for Township documents MUST be made in writing, so the Township Attorney can review them prior to them being provided to her.

–  Email records confirmed that Commissioner Rogers and Trustee Thalmann were both informed of the requirement for written requests from Ann Marie Rogers for Township documents.

 –  In review of Township records, the only individual that had requested Trustee Buxar’s Township phone records was Trustee Thalmann.  There were no written requests for phone records from Commissioner Rogers, yet Commissioner Rogers used the phone record information in her March 10th accusations against Trustee Buxar.

–  Buxar’s findings also identified a much more serious issue :   Attorney-Client Privileged information had been shared inappropriately between Thalmann, Gonser and Rogers.

  • Treasurer Langlois commented on the severity of this situation:

“The magnitude of this breach simply cannot be overstated. The Board chose Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann as the two person subcommittee charged with representing the Board in good faith negotiations with the Parks and Recreation Commission. The fact that they shared privileged and confidential information prior to these meetings is extremely troubling and obviously, given the phone records, this isn’t the first time we have seen this.”

  • Treasurer Langlois then made the following motion, that was supported by Trustee Bailey.  The motions was unanimously approved.

“Secure all confidential communications and emails, including all communications and emails pertaining to closed sessions, and all attorney client privileged communications and emails, by and between the Oakland Township Board of Trustees and the Oakland Township Parks Commission for review by the Oakland Township Attorney.  To authorize the Oakland Township Manager to retain IT consultant, I.T. RIGHT, for assistance, if necessary.  To authorize the Oakland Township attorney to work with the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation attorney if necessary.”

  • At the April 14, 2015 Board meeting, the Board was given a memo from the Oakland Township attorney with the findings of his investigation.  The results were not shared with the public.
  • After a brief recess for Board members to review the memo, Treasurer Langlois commented:

“Given that the information contained in our review, and presumable their’s (the Parks and Recreation Commission’s), does affect both Boards, I would like to see this Board agree to the joint meeting (proposed by the PRC).”

  • The Board agreed, in a 5 to 1 vote, to hold a closed session meeting and then an open session joint meeting (at least for now) with the Parks and Recreation Commission, where the results of the investigation and potential actions will be discussed.  Supervisor Gonser was opposed to the meetings.

Here is a video supporting the statements made above:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Board and Parks and Recreation Commission members swear to adhere to an oath of office.  Three of our elected officials may have violated their oath, and possibly the law.  There may be efforts made to prevent the facts on these allegations from being made public.  The citizens of Oakland Township deserve to understand what really took place. We do not need to know the content of any “privileged and confidential” letters, but we do need to know “who” sent “what” to “whom” so the citizens can consider the facts when voting in 2016.

Hopefully the joint meeting between the Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission will be an open meeting, and the facts will be made public.  The public deserves to know if our elected officials violated their oath of office.

Richard Michalski

Gonser Alone. At the Helm?

4/15/15

Last night at the Board of Trustees meeting we saw evidence that Supervisor Gonser’s role has been reduced to one of backbencher.  Two years ago he took office with a newly elected  (with the exception of the re-elected Mike Baily & former Trustee Sharon McKay) Board who voted in lock step with him.  Last night, in every vote that was in any way controversial, the Board voted 5 to 1 against him.

During the meeting, the Supervisor announced the resignation of Trustee Maureen Thalmann who had continued to side with Gonser on many votes in the past.  Several personal and family illness reasons for her resignation were offered.  It should be mentioned that one month ago she was named as one of the subjects of  an investigation into the sharing of confidential, attorney-client privileged documents with un-authorized persons.

For Gonser, it was all downhill from there.  Prior to most of the votes, he spoke his opinion emphatically, even passionately to no avail.  No-one supported him.  From my point of view it seemed that most of the disagreements were not substantial but rather manufactured by either Gonser or one of the Board to insure a 5-1 split.

Here are the highlights:

  1. The resignation of Trustee Thalmann was accepted unanimously;
  2. A proposed change to the rules of order to require a Request for Action Summary sheet for any agenda item was rejected 5 to 1 against with board members arguing that it was an unnecessary restriction and the Supervisor arguing that it would improve communication and order in their meetings;
  3.  A request to appoint a subcommittee to review the Zoning Ordinance to determine if changes are necessary to bring it into compliance with changes to State Law was argued at length.  Mr. Gonser wanted to have the study pertain to the zoning ordinance that is currently effect in effect which was written in 1976.  He wanted to ignore the proposed updated zoning ordinance that was prepared by the Planning Commission and submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval in 2010 but has never been acted upon.  Mr. Gonser pointed out that the proposed ordinance was vehemently opposed by himself and some others who were elected to the Board in 2012.  The Township Attorney informed Supervisor Gonser that State law requires that the Planning Commission has the sole responsibility  to propose changes to the Zoning Ordinance and the Board must, at this time, direct their study and comments to the 2010 proposed version submitted by the Planning Commission.  During the ensuing half hour Gonser repeatedly argued that State Law could be ignored and was repeatedly corrected by the attorney.  A modified plan to have the Township Attorney and the Township Planner do the study was approved 5 to 1 with Gonser voting No.
  4. A request to raise the wages of paid-on-call firefighters and EMS was approved unanimously.
  5. A request to pay monthly incentive bonuses of $50 or $100 to paid-on-call Fire Dept. employees when they responded to more than  20% or 40% of calls respectively was argued at length.   Trustee Buxar proposed that the incentives be adopted for a 5 month trial period so that it could be reviewed and perhaps adjusted to improve its effectiveness.  The motion was passed 5-1 with Gonser objecting only to the trial period feature.
  6. The Board addressed the results of the investigation into accusations that made during a previous Board meeting that one or more Board members and/or Parks Commissioners shared privileged attorney-client and closed session meeting documents with unauthorized persons.  The Board approved the scheduling of a meeting with the Parks Commission to jointly respond to the attorneys’ findings.  The vote was 5-1 with Gonser objecting.  Note: When the accusations were made at a previous Trustees meeting Supervisor Gonser was mentioned as a person who may have improperly received one or more of the documents in question.

This meeting solidifies an important, positive change in the leadership of our Board of Trustees.  Also very important is that the new vacancy on the Board is an opportunity for citizens to come forward and offer to serve the community.

Jim Foulkrod

 

Supervisor Gonser’s past unilateral unauthorized decision is causing unnecessary Township expense

One agenda item for the February 10, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting will be a request to pay an engineering firm $9,675 for a storm water management plan that is legally required from Oakland Township.  The need for this expenditure has its ‘roots’ in an unauthorized unilateral decision that Supervisor Gonser made in May of 2013, when he authorized one of our Township Attorneys, Charlie Dunn, to request a “termination of certificate of coverage for a general storm water management permit”.

This request is currently under litigation between the Township and the governing environmental bodies, and has never been disclosed to the public.  The Township is still required to provide the storm water management plan while the issue is being resolved in the courts, hence the need for the plan.

Former Trustee Keyes pointed out the unauthorized request at the October 22, 2013 meeting when she became aware of it.  None of the other Trustees supported her when she questioned the unauthorized decision by Gonser.

There are many issues associated with this matter:

  • The decision to terminate Oakland Township’s participation in the storm water management program was made without Board approval and outside any public meeting.
  • Supervisor Gonser made efforts to prevent then Trustee Keyes from disclosing the unauthorized decision at the October 22, 2013 Board meeting.
  • The resultant lawsuit, related to our request to not participate in the storm water management plan, has never been disclosed in a public forum.
  • The legal expense for the lawsuit is unnecessary, and is the result of a recommendation from our Township’s legal counsel or our Supervisor.
  • The cost for the storm water plan is almost $8,000 higher than necessary if the Township had maintained their relationship with the Clinton River Water Watershed Council.

Here is a copy of the summary page that is part of the February 10 Board packet: (click on image to enlarge)

Feb 10, 2015 Stormwater permit proposal: contract

Here is a video of the October 22, 2013 Board meeting, at which Trustee Keyes pointed out the unauthorized decision.  It was at this same meeting that she announced her resignation from the Board.

Here is a copy of the May 3, 2013 letter sent by Charles Dunn to the MDEQ without the approval of the Oakland Township Board.

May 3, 2013 Charles Dunn letter

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser’s unilateral unauthorized decision in May of 2013 has resulted in legal issues between Oakland Township and the environmental governing bodies.  The decision by the Board to not participate in the Clinton River Watershed Council has resulted in an additional $8,000 expense that was totally unnecessary.

The bottom line is that our Supervisor and Board have made decisions that are costing the taxpayers money (Engineering and Legal fees) that could be spent on other things needed in our Township.

Oakland Township has historically been on the leading edge of best practices in protecting our beautiful Township.  Other communities looked to us as an example of what to do.  Under our current Board, we are now fighting the DEQ, MDEQ and the Clinton River Watershed Council.

If the decision to terminate our participation in the storm water permit program was made based on a recommendation from our Township Attorney (who would certainly benefit from any future litigation as a result of that action), one must question the appropriateness and ethics of such a self serving recommendation.

On the other hand, if the decision was made by Supervisor Gonser, based on what he wanted to do, without any Board or public input, one must question his motives.  However, his decision should come as no surprise to the residents, given his expressed opinion on environmental issues as previously reported on this website.

Gonser finally expresses his thoughts on UN conspiracy

Richard Michalski