Category Archives: Tea Party ideology

Supervisor Gonser opposes Township establishing ordinance to minimize impact of oil and gas drilling in Oakland Township

As previously reported, the Township Board requested the Planning Commission review and develop potential zoning ordinance changes for the Board to consider regarding the control of gas and oil drilling sites in Oakland Township. The Board also put in place a six month moratorium on new oil and gas drilling sites while the Planning Commission and Board potentially take action.  The Planning Commission will begin their efforts on this request at the August 5, 2015 Planning Commission meeting.

The Oakland Press published an article on this matter on August 4, 2015.  In that article, Supervisor Gonser’s opinion on this issue was stated.  Here is what the Oakland Press wrote:

Township Supervisor Terry Gonser, who, along with trustee John Giannangeli, was absent from the (July 14th) meeting and did not cast a vote in the matter, said he is not in favor of addressing oil and gas exploration at the township level because of state laws regulating the act.

Here is the link to the Oakland Press article:

Oakland Township officials to discuss oil and gas drilling regulations

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Concerned citizens should try to attend the August 5, 2015 Planning Commission meeting and voice their support for having the Township take advantage of neighboring communities learnings regarding oil and gas drilling sites.  The Planning Commission meeting starts at 7 PM, and is held at the Oakland Township Hall on Collins Road.

It is disappointing that Supervisor Gonser is satisfied relying on the State to ‘regulate’ oil and gas drilling in Oakland Township when several of our neighboring communities have put in place a limited level of local protection for their communities. Why would one of our elected officials not try to similarly protect us? I guess the Supervisor’s conservative values concerning individual property rights, big government intervention and regulations also applies to local government regulations, even if those local regulations would protect our residents.  The ‘balanced’ approach that Trustee Ferriolo describes in the Oakland Press article is the more appropriate approach to protecting everyone’s individual property rights.

Here are several previously reported articles on this subject:

Oakland Township Board implements 6 month moratorium on new oil or gas drilling in Oakland Township

UPDATE: Oil and Gas well sites in Oakland Township and Surrounding Communities

Results of June 23, 2015 BOT discussion on Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township

JUNE 17th UPDATE: Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

Richard Michalski

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

 

Does Oakland Township’s Clerk, Karen Reilly, have any thoughts of her own?

EDITORIAL COMMENT

For those of you who have been to, or watched, Oakland Township Board meetings since November of 2012 you may have noticed that Karen Reilly, our Clerk, rarely contributes to the Board’s discussions.  The meeting on August 12, 2014 had an agenda full of substantive topics, most notably the appointment of many new individuals to various Boards and Commissions.  NOT A SINGLE COMMENT was made by Karen Reilly during the entire 4 1/2 hour meeting.

During the December 7, 2013 Board meeting, when the Board was interviewing candidates for the Township Manager position, one of the candidates asked each Board member why they ran for office.  Karen’s response was:

In an earlier 2013 meeting, shortly after taking office, Karen explained why she did not participate in a State supported training session for Township Clerks.  Karen had no experience in Township Clerk responsibilities, and clearly had no desire to get a better understanding of the Clerk’s responsibilities.  Here is her statement:

As reported in a previous post on this website, she did respond (on a ‘live’ microphone prior to the beginning of a Board meeting) to former Trustee McKay on why the minutes of closed meetings do not have any documentation of what was discussed during the meeting.

Her ‘off the record’, open microphone comments show she is articulate so maybe her ‘on the record’ silence can be understood via her comment:

“…the point is you don’t want to put too much in there. Because… whatever you say can be held against you. The less you have in there the better off you are…”.

Is she self-editing her participation at our Board meetings because she feels her ideas are dangerous or unacceptable to our community? 

There are certainly differences between introverts and extroverts on how they act in public.  However, I believe that when a citizen runs for public office, even an introvert should be expected to explain the rationale for taking a position on an issue.  Karen never explains the rationale for her votes.

As you know, Karen’s husband, John, ran for the State Representative seat in the 46th district in the August primary.  In early 2014, I asked John if he would include me on distribution to the Oakland Township Republican meetings that he chairs.  I did attend one of these meetings in January of 2014 when I found out about it.  This is one of the meetings that Karen referenced in her ‘reason’ for running for office.  One of the agenda items at that meeting was:

  • The Republican establishment’s “war” on tea party and libertarians at both the national and state levels 

Several Oakland Township Precinct delegates attended as well as our Supervisor, several other Board members, our state representative Tom McMillin, and various citizens .

Before John would add me to his distribution list, he wanted to know where and why I stood on a number of political issues.  I found his requirement strange and inappropriate.  He responded by saying he was “surprised” that I found his request inappropriate. It was clear he was not interested in having an open discussion in his meetings.  He wanted to understand my (an unelected citizen) thoughts on issues, before he (an elected precinct captain) would include me on distribution.  I refused to participate in his exclusionary forum.

What is the linkage between Karen Reilly’s lack of comments at Board meetings and John’s requirement?  I think the citizens of Oakland Township deserve some insight into the thought process of our elected Clerk.  Karen needs to express the rationale for her taking the positions she takes.  John’s requirement for similar information from a private citizen was inappropriate.

From my perspective Karen either does not have any thoughts of her own, or is afraid to express them.  Is she following what her husband tells her to do, what Supervisor Gonser tells her to do?  Is she living by her own advice “whatever you say can be held against you (or her husband)”? Is she trying to minimize any political damage she could create for her husband’s political aspirations since she ran for office because of his involvement in politics?

At any rate, the citizens deserve to have a better understanding of what our Clerk ‘really’ thinks on issues.

Here are several related articles:

Is Oakland Township’s leadership part of the Republican Party “establishment”?

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection

Richard Michalski

Township Board appoints John Giannangeli to vacant Trustee seat. Will the real John Giannangeli please stand up?

At the April 22nd Township Board meeting, the Board unanimously appointed John Gianngelli to the vacant seat created by the resignation of Trustee McKay.  There were 15 potential candidates.  The motion for John’s nomination was made prior to any discussion by the Board on any candidate.  He is a member of Supervisor Gonser’s Friday ‘breakfast club’.

 John indicated on his application that he has “solid interpersonal skills” and is “open to other’s opinions “.  A video of his comments at a meeting held last summer show a different picture.  In his prepared speech at the April 22nd meeting, John indicated his support for ‘transparency’.  His emotional outburst  challenging the video taping of the earlier meeting paints a different picture.  

The Board appeared to have their mind made up going into the meeting.  John’s addition to the Board increases the potential of Supervisor Gonser’s ‘vision’ of Oakland Township being implemented.

There were a total of 15 candidates considered for the position.  At the April 22nd meeting, Trustee Thalmann quickly nominated one candidate, John Giannangeli. Trustee Langlois seconded the motion.  Trustee Bailey suggested that the Board hear from the candidates present prior to taking a vote.  Gonser left it up to the Board.  The Board then heard from the candidates who were present. John Giannangeli was the only one who gave a prepared speech.  They then opened it up for citizen comments.  Here are excepts from the meeting proceedings:

Supervisor Gonser has a ‘breakfast club’ that meets on Fridays.  Many of these individuals have regularly commented at Board meeting on topics supporting Supervisor Gonser’s position.  John Giannangeli acknowledged that he participates in these meetings “to keep up on what’s really going on (in the Township)”.

On John Giannangeli’s application, he claimed “solid interpersonal skills” and is “open to other’s opinions ” as character traits.  At a meeting last summer, John Giannangeli demonstrated a dramatically different side of his character.  He made a very angry outburst against the author of this post because I was video taping the meeting. I was taping the meeting since it was not being video taped by CMNtv.  Here is that outburst from Mr. Giannangeli:

John may claim his outburst comment was taken out of context. If he does, I am more than willing to post the entire video of the meeting.  He may claim his outburst is only a single incident.  If he does, I am more than willing to post other emotional outbursts from various previous meetings.

Stress often brings out an individual’s true character.  John’s spontaneous comments are far more telling of his character than the written prepared speech he gave at the April 22nd meeting.  Please contrast ‘the scripted’ version of John in the first video with the ‘unscripted’ version of John in the second video to form your opinion if he is the right person for our Township Board.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The appointment of Mr. Giannangeli is another ‘chess move’ by Supervisor Gonser to dramatically change the physical character of Oakland Township by making appointments of individuals with similar “Tea Party” ideologies. Please go to these related previous posts:

Gonser’s lack of knowledge of our Township’s Zoning

Zoning Board of appeals member John Markel’s comments on Zoning

Gonser’s Tea Party belief in a UN Global conspiracy

Richard Michalski

Zoning? – Gonser Doesn’t Understand our Master Plan Either.

As Dick Michalski recently pointed out   Supervisor Gonser demonstrated the lack of depth of his understanding of Oakland Township’s land development laws and guidelines when he said “Right now, the zoning is set up to develop Oakland Township just like Rochester Hills and Troy.”.

This could hardly be farther from the truth. Over the coming weeks we will post a number of facts about our Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance so that our readers are better equipped to evaluate Gonser’s statement.

In this post I am going to dispute his statement by writing about how just one single aspect of our Master Plan makes our township very different from Rochester Hills and Troy.  Our current Future Land Use Plan (Chapter 12 of the Master Plan) is one of the most important parts of our Master Plan.  The Future Land Use Plan divides the township into six Conservation Districts.  These Districts restrict the number of acres that may be developed versus how many acres should be preserved. More than 60% of the land in the Township (14,259 acres or 22 square miles ) is classified in  two of these Districts:

District # Acres in District # acres preserved vs. developed
NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION 7,823 10/1
LOW DENSITY CONSERVATION 6,436 5/1

This is serious preservation vs. development control! 
The lands that are classified this way are generally north of Buell Road and the Master Plan says to develop here you will need to leave a lot more land untouched than you disturb.  

The Planning Commission will be able to work with these District level guidelines in a variety of ways ranging from:

  1. strictly applying the preservation ratios on a project by project basis;
  2. or looking at the ratio across the entire District;
  3. or a combination of both.

Our Natural Resource Conservation District ( 10 to 1 preservation ratio) already includes Bald Mountain Park, some of Addison Oaks and some Township Parkland so, taken on a District level, the 10 to 1 ratio would not be as restrictive as it sounds. Subtracting some or all of this already preserved acreage and protected wetlands from the 7,823 acres in that District would yield a much more feasible ratio to apply to individual development projects.

You can be sure that Supervisor Gonser did not find guidelines like these in the Rochester Hills and Troy Master Plans.

Our current zoning ordinance is inextricably linked to our Master Plan’s requirements.  The Master Plan is mentioned 17 times in the zoning ordinance with language like “in accordance with”, “consistent with” and “in keeping with the policy objectives of”.  So the master plan cannot be ignored.

There are many parts of the Master Plan that will, if taken seriously by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees,  continue to create an exceptional community where attractive neighborhoods harmonize with carefully preserved natural beauty.

Does Supervisor Gonser plan to respect and follow the Master Plan?

  • He has removed every sitting Planning Commissioner and Zoning Board of Appeals member who’s term was up for renewal and replaced them with his campaign contributors.
  • When filling Trustee vacancies, he has ignored experienced applicants who have served the Township and, most recently, resisted the Board of Trustees desire to publicize the vacancy to give the citizens a good opportunity to apply.  He just wanted to appoint another one of his cronies.
  • His new handpicked Township Manager has said that the Master Plan needs to be changed to reflect the needs of developers.
  • What did he mean when he said in  email and publicly  that United Nations Agenda 21 initiatives are having a significant impact on the Township. That our ordinances are already full of Agenda 21 initiatives…  It has to do with environmental mischief that is going on in the Township… The overriding umbrella of Agenda 21 it is to eliminate the automobile, to eliminate all sorts of motorized transportation except mass transit and have heavy emphasis on bicycles?   Does this strike you as respect for our environmental and zoning ordinances and our Master Plan?

What will be the future of our Township if Supervisor Gonser gets his way and changes the Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance to somehow agree with this radical ideology?

Jim Foulkrod  – former Planning Commissioner (20 years)

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt to ‘steamroll in’ a replacement Trustee appointment

At the April 8th Oakland Township Board meeting, Trustee McKay officially announced her resignation from the Board.  At the same meeting, Supervisor Gonser, with the help of Trustee Thalmann, attempted to push through a person to fill Trustee McKay’s position.  Trustee Thalmann made the motion to nominate Gonser’s recommended candidate.  Gonser seconded it.  The other Board members, as well as several citizens, did not believe that there was adequate publicity regarding the opening to make sure all interested candidates submitted their application.  Fortunately, the Board voted to delay any appointment for two weeks so more Township residents would be aware of the open position and submit applications.  Trustees Buxar, Bailey and Treasurer Langlois voted to defer any appointment for two weeks.  Trustee McKay abstained.

As stated above, at the April 8th Board meeting, Trustee McKay officially announced her resignation that would take place at the end of that meeting. She informally announced that she would be resigning two weeks earlier at the March 25th Board meeting.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann proceeded to nominate the only person that had submitted an application for that position (one other candidate withdrew his application).  The Board has 45 days after the formal resignation to fill the position before the County steps in and fills it.  Gonser’s nominee, Anthony Scaccia is a builder and a real estate agent.

Several citizens expressed their concerns over the lack of public knowledge about the open position.  Fortunately, all of the Board members, with the exception of Gonser and Thalmann, agreed that more time was necessary for, as one resident requested, a “clarion call” to be made to identify more potential candidates for the position.

During the discussion, Supervisor Gonser referred to the previous appointment of Trustee Buxar.  Even though there were nine candidates that had applied for that position, he said:

“No one else (besides Buxar) was vetted”

Robin Buxar appears to be doing a very good job as a Trustee, so there is not an issue with her.  However, by Gonser’s acknowledgment, it is clear that he will make his nomination based on his personal preferences not looking objectively at ALL the viable candidates.

Trustee Thalmann questioned whether the previous vacancy was published in the Rochester Post.  Both she and Gonser appeared to question whether posting it in the newspaper was/is appropriate.  This from the two Board members that continue to bring up the transparency the current Board has put in place.

Here is a video of the Board proceedings on this matter:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser has the authority to nominate a candidate to fill the position.  The candidate must be approved by the full Board. The choice he makes can have a lasting impact on our Township.  He has stated that Planning Commission candidates must be familiar with the alleged United Nations “Agenda 21” conspiracy that is espoused by the Tea Party.  November 25 2012 Gonser email – Planning Commissioners should understand Agenda 21  Presumably he is using that as a litmus test for his Trustee appointment.  Due to the recent apparent ‘split’ in the Board, if Gonser has his way, he will add another person to ‘steamroll in’ his agenda in our Township.

The citizens of Oakland Township need to hold the entire Board accountable for selecting the most qualified person for this position. IF INTERESTED IN THE POSITION, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION TO THE TOWNSHIP OFFICE.

Richard Michalski

Township Board finally agrees with Oakland Township citizens’ desires

Over the past year, some members of the Township Board have wanted to take over the responsibility for managing the Land Preservation Fund.  This fund has been managed by the Parks Commission since the creation of the Fund.  At the March 11 Board Meeting, the Board finally agreed to have the Parks Commission continue to manage this fund.  It was not a unanimous vote.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann wanted to have the Township Board take over the management of the Fund.  Treasurer Langlois, Trustees Bailey and Buxar supported having the Fund managed by the Parks Commission.

Some additional background on this issue has been previously reported on this website.  On April 1 of 2013, Supervisor Gonser had authorized a memo to be written by then Superintendent Creech to have the Land Preservation Fund taken over by the Board.  During the course of this past year, the facts came out that this was a unilateral decision by Supervisor Gonser, and not one that the Board had approved.  Fortunately due to the persistence of many citizens who have supported our Parks programs, the Board finally resolved this issue with the vote on March 11th.

At the March 11th meeting, one of our citizens gave a very clear and direct explanation why the Parks Commission should continue to manage this fund.  Here are her comments and the vote on this issue.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Due to the multitude of citizens that supported the Parks Commission on this issue, we were able to get enough Board members to recognize that the many initiatives  the Parks Commission has undertaken over the years is not part of what Terry Gonser considers a global United Nations conspiracy called ‘Agenda 21’.  Continued citizen involvement is critical to preventing our Township from being taken over by a group of radical ‘Tea Party’ individuals.

For additional background information see:

Supervisor Gonser’s REAL views on trails, pathways, bike paths and environmental protection 

Trustees seize Land Preservation Assets

RIchard Michalski