Tag Archives: Abuse of Power

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

 

Supervisor Gonser retracts his slanderous statement against former Township Trustee

At the January 27, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser retracted the slanderous statement he made at the January 13th Board meeting against a former Oakland Township Trustee, and now private citizen.

His slanderous January 13th comments were made at the same meeting where he:

Gonser’s retraction may prevent further legal action that could be taken against him for his slanderous statement.

Here is a video of Gonser’s retraction statement:

Here is the background information:

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser made a slanderous statement toward Judy Keyes. Judy is a former Trustee who resigned in September of 2013 due to concerns she had regarding the ethical behavior of several of the Board members.

Gonser publicly said to Judy:

“You are the most disruptive person I have ever met.  You have lied on this Board, you have cheated on this Board, you have stolen money on this Board.”

At the January 27, 2015 Board meeting, Gonser retracted his January 13th statement with the following statement:

“In the heat of the moment, I lost my composure and I made statements suggesting that Mrs. Keyes lied on this Board, cheated on this Board, and stole money on this Board.

I want to make a full retraction of each of those statements.  To be clear, I have no proof that Mrs. Keyes lied, cheated or stole money on the Board, and my statements to the contrary were made in the heat of the moment and were a mistake.

I apologize to Mrs. Keyes and offer this full retraction in good faith”

He went on to say:

“I apologize to the community for the comments I made.”

Treasurer Langlois stated:

“I would like to add, so that the record shows, that the Board was not silent on this matter.”

She then made a motion, that was unanimously approved, acknowledging the Supervisor’s retraction and apology to Mrs. Keyes.

In June of 2013, the Township Board passed a “Principles of Township Governance Excellence Policy”.  The development of that Policy statement was led by former Trustee Judy Keyes.  As previously reported on this website, the Board approved it.  However, only two members of the Board agreed to sign the document (one of them was Judy Keyes, the other Sharon McKay – neither are currently on the Board).  Trustee Thalmann refused to sign it.  Supervisor Gonser indicated that the Board members did not have to sign it.

Principles of Township Governance Excellence document

What follows is a copy of the “Charter Township of Oakland Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Policy”.   

Charter Township of Oakland conflict of interest and code of ethics policy

Ideally, a community should not need these type of documents.  It appears that, even if they do exist, they have no impact on the actions of our Supervisor.

Here is a video of Gonser’s January 13th comments:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Slanderous comments are criminal and are never acceptable.  Having them come from  an elected official in Oakland Township not only reflect on Gonser’s character, but the reputation of our Township.  The citizens of Oakland Township, as well as the Board, have the duty to hold him accountable for his actions.

It appears that Gonser’s actions are ‘catching up with him’.  His comments and discussions at the January 13th meeting have apparently put him in an “attack mode”.  The saying “The best defense is a good (??) offense” appears to be his game plan.

Both Gonser and Trustee Thalmann continue to argue for a “Strong Supervisor” type of government in Oakland Township.  Gonser’s actions are a clear example of why we do not want a “Strong Supervisor” system in Oakland Township. This appears to be yet another ‘offensive” move (two interpretations possible and meant).

Another issue that needs to be clarified is whether the Township paid for the legal counsel Gonser received in developing his retraction. The citizens of Oakland Township must not be held accountable for his slanderous accusation.

Gonser’s actions cannot go unchallenged by the citizens of Oakland Township.  We certainly must remember this in the 2016 elections.

  • Can we trust the other Board members to hold Gonser accountable to his sworn oath of office and the “Principles of Township Governance Excellence”?
  • Have the citizens had enough to warrant a recall of Gonser?

Let us know your thoughts!

Richard Michalski

 

Were Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann’s negative votes a violation of their oath of office?

One of the agenda items for the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting was a proposal, by Supervisor Gonser, to have Oakland Township go to a ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of government in 2016.  Although he had it on the published agenda, he removed the item at the beginning of the meeting.

During a discussion the Board had regarding Gonser’s unilateral decision to approve the surveying of parkland in Oakland Township for a potential gas main, the ‘Strong Supervisor’ concept came up. The result of those discussions was the ‘one – two’ punch to Gonser previously reported on this website.

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members who voted against reaffirming Ordinance 97, which defines the responsibilities of the Township Manager.  When the Board was sworn into office, they swore to uphold our Ordinances.  

The following video contains excerpts of the discussions that occurred at that meeting. It is about 6 minutes long, but well worth watching if you want to understand the positions of several of our Board members.

 

Link to January 12, 2015 Oakland Press article

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Gonser placing the ‘Strong Supervisor’ issue on the agenda, then pulling it off, and his statement in the January 12th Oakland Press article, appear to have been an attempt at sabotaging the Board’s efforts to find a qualified Township Manager.

As you probably know, interviews for our Township manager position occurred on January 24th. Uncertainty regarding the potential longevity of the Township Manager position could reduce the qualified candidate pool.  Fortunately, the Board members, with the exception of Trustee Thalmann, wanted nothing to do with that uncertainty.  Treasurer Langlois, Clerk Reilly, Trustees Buxar and Bailey took very strong positions regarding Gonser’s proposal.  Trustee Giannangeli, who has been a strong supporter of Gonser to this point, made it very clear that he wants Gonser to operate in conformance with Ordinance 97.

Ordinance 97 is the Township Ordinance that defines the responsibilities of our Township Manager.  It is an ordinance that the Board has sworn to uphold.  By their statements, it is clear that the majority of the Board members feel that the Supervisor is not conforming to the Ordinance, hence the resolution to reaffirm the responsibilities of the Manager not the Supervisor.  Gonser and Thalmann voted to not to support the resolution that would reaffirm that Ordinance.

In my mind, Gonser’s many unilateral unauthorized decisions and actions without Board agreement (violating Ordinance 97), and Gonser and Thalmann’s negative vote on that resolution are violations of their oath of office.

If they do not want to conform to, and enforce, the existing Township Ordinances that they have sworn to uphold, they should resign.

Richard Michalski

Gonser accuses other Board members of Open Meeting Act violation

At the January 13, 2014 BOT meeting, Supervisor Gonser made an unsubstantiated accusation that four of the Board members met outside a public meeting discussing a Resolution that was being proposed.  If this occurred, it would have been a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

 Gonser’s accusation was made after a motion to reaffirm Ordinance 97 (which defines the authority of our Township Superintendent/ Manager).  His accusation was part of a very emotional 4 minute statement when he apparently felt he was being accused of inappropriate actions.

Three of the Board members immediately challenged Gonser’s statement, and indicated that they had never met as Gonser had stated.

As previously reported on this website, the Board did take two actions to restrain Gonser’s actions to what he statutorily possesses.  They want to  ensure that the Supervisor does not perform duties outside his authorized responsibilities.  Gonser and Thalmann have made multiple attempts at expanding his authority by having the Township governance changed to a “Strong Supervisor” structure.

Here is a video of Gonser’s statement and the Board member’s response:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Gonser’s public unsupported accusation that other Board members have violated the Open Meetings Act is highly inappropriate and significant.  Given that he has made that accusation, our Township Attorney should determine if Gonser’s accusation can be supported.  If not, Gonser may have violated the Township’s ‘Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Policy’, as well as the ‘Board approved Principles of Township Governance Excellence’.

As one resident has recently stated, he believes Gonser’s actions have now escalated to the point of ‘malfeasance’.  The Board needs to hold Gonser accountable for his statement by either asking for the supporting data for his accusation, or demand a retraction of his accusation.

Gonser’s lashing out at fellow Board members, former Trustee Judy Keyes, disregarding our township attorney’s assessment, and lashing out at the accuracy of this website appear to be occurring because he is frustrated that he cannot get what he wants.

Mr. Gonser needs to understand that our Township is governed by a Strong Board through majority rule!

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser attempts to defend his lie in Rochester Post article

At the January 13, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, one of the agenda items was a discussion about the decision and authority to cancel the televising of the September 29, 2014 Board meeting(s).  It has previously been reported that Supervisor Gonser had cancelled the taping and televising of the meetings.  In those meetings, our former Township Manager, Ann Capela had first been fired, and later allowed to quit.  Many of the Board members did not agree with Gonser’s decision to cancel the taping of the meeting based on the resultant lack of transparency to our citizens.  They also questioned his authority to have made that decision.

When confronted with the facts about the cancellation, Supervisor Gonser acknowledged that he did call CMNtv to cancel the televising of the meetings, but then attempted to justify that decision by saying he was trying to protect Ann Capela reputation.  He made no apology for making the decision nor for lying to the Press.  In the September 29th meeting, both he and Trustee Thalmann were the only two Board members to not support firing Ann Capela.

The author of this post confronted Gonser in the meeting by saying that his rationale for not televising the meeting was NOT justification for lying to the Press when he said:

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

Here are the key video portions of this meeting regarding this issue:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Townhip?  Most of the citizens of Oakland Township do not accept or condone Gonser’s lying in the Press (there was at least one citizen at the January 13 meeting who appeared to accept Gonser’s explanation).

This is not the first time that there has been documentation that our Supervisor has lied to the public.  One previous example was reported on this website where Gonser stated he had sent a letter requesting an opinion from our State Attorney General “as an individual”.  The letter he referred to was written 8 days AFTER he made that public statement.

Gonser’s lack of understanding that his rationale for making the decision is not justification for lying to the Press.  This is proof that his value system is based on “the end justifies the means”.

Gonser appears to subscribe to Machiavellian and Nixonian principles.

This post is one of several that support the actions taken by our Township Board at the January 13th meeting to try to stop Gonser’s many unauthorized decisions.

Richard Michalski

 

The Board Deals Gonser a One-Two Punch

1/14/15

Sending a very powerful message at their Jan 13th meeting, the Board passed two targeted motions.

Punch One…

First, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution re-affirming the lawful duties of the Township Superintendent/Manager position.  The position  is defined in detail by our Ordinance 97 as the chief administrative officer position responsible for a very wide range of township business and activities.  This position description can only be changed or re-defined by an official motion by the Board of Trustees that receives a  majority vote.

Trustee Buxar introduced this resolution by saying that the law lays out:

“everything our Superintendent is supposed do and handle and what is supposed to run through that office”.

She talked about related problems in the Township:

“we have had instances of  confusion among staff members”;

“people are being told they have to run through the Supervisor’s Office”;

“that is not how this Township is setup”.

“the problem we have now is we have a Superintendent and a Supervisor that are crashing with each other”

“the direction is supposed to go to the Superintendent and that is who is supposed to be the lead  in the Township”

Treasurer Langlois added:

” We are looking for a positive, constructive way to move forward”;

“providing clarification and communication to the people and entities who need it”;

” that we do have ordinance 97 that does dictate the chain of command and structure of Oakland Township”.

There was much discussion of this resolution during which Gonser offered no substantive opinion.  He voted “OPPOSED”.  The Resolution was approved 5-2.

Supervisor Gonser opposed, by his vote,  the legal reality that the Township Superintendent is the executive administrator of the township in spite of the fact that he has sworn to uphold the law.  During the discussion it was pretty clear that members of the Board and some citizens felt that Gonser had acted in ways that were contrary to the Township Superintendent Ordinance that he has sworn to uphold.  The audience made comments that such acts amounted to malfeasance in office as defined by State law and that the Board  should censure him.  Gonser offered nothing in his own defense.

Punch Two…

Next, Treasurer Langlois made a second motion that the Clerk should distribute the Resolution just passed with a copy of Ordinance 97 to Township Employees and outside entities with which the Manager deals.  She asked that the cover letter explain that the Resolution and Ordinance specify the will of the Board of Trustees and show how governance works in Oakland Township.  Her motion further directs the Township Superintendent/Manager to make the Board aware of any deviance from the ordinance so the Board can address them. Gonser and Thalmann were alone in opposing the motion. It passed 5-2.

Citizens should celebrate this new political reality and we should show our support of the Board Members who, beginning now,  work to set our Oakland Township government on the straight course to operating according to the law and at the direction of our elected Board of Trustees.  The Board has the tools but will also need the support of the community.

I hope Supervisor Gonser comes to realize that his choices are few. He can:

  1. comply with the law, performing only his rightful duties;
  2. submit his resignation;
  3. endure repeated humiliating censure and, perhaps, his recall by the voters.

Jim Foulkrod

 

Supervisor Gonser knew about Gas Pipeline proposal but refused to inform the Park Commission

Supervisor Gonser knew about a proposed gas pipeline through Oakand Township more than a month before the Parks and Recreation Commission was informed that the pipeline was proposed to go through one of our Parks.  Gonser chose not to inform the Parks Commission about this project.  He later approved the survey work on the park land even though he knew the Parks Commission had not approved the request.  

As reported previously on this website, Vector Pipeline, a representative of DTE, met with the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission on November 12, 2014 to request approval from the Parks Commission to proceed with a survey through Draper Twin Lakes Park to potentially install a 42 inch diameter gas line.  This proposed path is an optional path Vector Pipeline wanted to consider rather than using an existing right of way adjacent to the Park property.  There was no good reason given for why Vector Pipeline preferred to use the parkland.  This line would traverse our entire Township.  The Parks Commission did not grant approval to proceed with the survey work.  However, a few days after the meeting, a survey company was seen surveying the parkland.  Upon investigation, it was discovered that Supervisor Gonser had given approval to survey the land without the Parks Commission’s knowledge or approval.

Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) indicates that Supervisor Gonser met with DTE, knew about the proposal, had a map of the proposed path, and sent a letter to the Board members informing them of project more than a month (October 2 and 3) before the Parks Commission meeting.  Supervisor Gonser apparently did not feel it necessary to inform the Parks Commission since they were not included on his email.

Gonser’s letter also included a draft letter that Vector Pipeline planned to send to all affected landowners prior to doing any surveying.  The Parks Commission never received a copy of the letter.  Gonser must have felt that since he had seen the letter, he felt it acceptable to approve the survey request even though he knew the Parks Commission had not approved it.

A discussion of Gonser’s actions on this issue is on the agenda for the January 13 BOT meeting.  Please come to the meeting or watch the discussion on your computer or TV.

Here are the documents obtained through the FOIA process:

Gonser’s prior knowledge of pipeline project

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Township Board, and particularly Supervisor Gonser, has had a number of confrontations with the Parks and Recreation Commission.  Some of these confrontations have escalated to formal legal proceedings.  Gonser’s obvious “in your face” decision to approve the survey work without having shared his prior knowledge of the project is yet another one of his ‘attacks’ on the Parks Commission.  He approved the request without having valid reasons given for why the existing right of ways could not be used.  His underhanded withholding of information from the Parks Commission is yet another example of his leadership style and ethics.

He claims to spend 50 to 60 hours per week on Township work, yet he could not take 30 seconds and include the Parks Commission on distribution on his October 3, 2014 email?

RIchard Michalski