Tag Archives: Ann Capela

Township Board approves potentially precedent setting (and costly) policy on Road maintenance

The Township Board approved spending $40,000 of funds from the ‘general fund’ to improve the gravel road portion of Silverbell Road at the September 9, 2014 Board meeting.  The Board approved spending this money by a 4 to 3 margin.  

Treasurer Langlois expressed concerns regarding:

  • the lack of having a comprehensive plan for our Township Road improvements that would ensure we were addressing the most critical roads,
  • the use of ‘general funds’ for this project, and
  • the precedent setting action of the Township assuming responsibility for the safety of the roads.  The Oakland County Road Commission has that responsibility.

This decision may cost the Township ‘dearly’ in the future.

At the September 9, 2014 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser stated that the Road Commission had contracted for enough limestone to improve about one additional mile of gravel roads in Oakland Township. This limestone was in addition to the improvements that occurred on Dutton Road this year.

Road improvements in our Township (above and beyond what is required for safety) have historically been covered by what is called tri-party funds.  The dollars for these improvements come from three sources, 1/3 from the Road Commission, 1/3 from the County and 1/3 from Oakland Township (hence the name tri-party fund).   In other words, our dollars are ‘leveraged’.  The cost for the Dutton Road improvements was also shared between Oakland Township and Rochester Hills.  That improvement was totally covered by tri-party funds from both communities.

The cost for the additional mile of limestone could not be totally covered by the remaining 2014 Oakland Township tri-party funds.  It would require an additional $40,000 from Oakland Township’s ‘General Fund’.  Supervisor Gonser wanted to authorize the Road Commission to purchase and use the limestone on Silverbell road in response to safety concerns raised by citizens.

Treasurer Langlois indicated she was not in favor of using Township ‘General Funds’ to improve road safety when road safety was the responsibility of the Road Commission.  She also pointed out that the Township’s road improvement planning has deteriorated since we lost our previous Township manager.  Treasurer Langlois, Trustees Buxar and Bailey all expressed disappointment that a more comprehensive plan had not been developed that would ensure the most critical roads in the Township were being addressed.

The Township Board voted on the motion to purchase the limestone, and it passed with Gonser, Reilly, Thalmann and Giannangeli supporting the motion.  Langlois, Buxar and Bailey being the dissenting minority.

Here is a video of Treasurer Langlois’ concerns with this motion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The use of general funds for road improvements to eliminate safety concerns could be a precedent setting action.  The Road Commission may now look to the Township to pay for future road improvements that they consider safety related. Until now, the Road Commission has been responsible for safety.  The Board’s decision may cloud that responsibility going forward. If the Township becomes responsible for road safety, our taxes will certainly increase to cover those costs.

The politically expeditious decision by Supervisor Gonser, Clerk Reilly and Trustees Thalmann and Giannangeli may cost the Township dearly in the future!

Richard Michalski

 

Supervisor Gonser incorrectly blames others for failure to be prepared for employee health care decision

At the August 12, 2014 Board meeting, the Board was forced to make an uninformed decision regarding the health care plan for Township employees.  The Township employee health care plans take effect on September 1 each year.  The Board decided to ‘opt out’ of the cost share obligation of Public Act 152 of 2011, and continue the current coverage for employees. This decision was made since no one on staff looked at alternatives in time for the September 1 deadline.  They also had not looked at the carry-over plan that was approved.  The Board had virtually no time to review or make an informed decision on this matter.  This is clearly an example of poor planning on the part of our Supervisor and Township Manager.

John Giannagelli indicated that he was disappointed that they had to ‘opt out’.  He thought that maybe the 152 plan options would have been better for the Township.  Supervisor Gonser then stated:

“Unfortunately, this was not identified earlier… really last year.  It was completely missed”

Here is a video of that discussion:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Terry Gonser continues to deflect any criticism on issues for which he bares responsibility.  Attempting to blame this issue on someone (our former Manager) from over a year ago does not pass the credibility test (sounds like Washington doesn’t it).

The current manager, Ann Capela, has been on staff since February, and certainly should have been able to investigate the health care options during the past 6 months.

Our supervisor has repeatedly stated how many hours he spends at the Township Hall.  His presence may actually be preventing our Township Manager from doing her work. Gonser needs to get out of the way, and let the staff do their work.  He also needs to stop blaming others.

I was once told, “Poor planning does not constitute an emergency!”  This is clearly a case of ‘poor planning’, yet our Supervisor continues to ‘fire’ the experienced planning individuals on our Planning Commission, and wants to provide the Planning Commission with his ‘strategic planning vision’.  Does he merit that trust? I think NOT!

Richard Michalski

Township “administration” authorizes paying for luncheon tickets – against wishes of several Board members

At the July 8th Board meeting, it became known that the Township ‘administration’ made a decision to have the Township purchase 6 tickets to a luncheon that was to honor Supervisor Gonser for completing a program with the Chamber of Commerce.  This decision violated a previous Township practice and “The Principles of Township Governance” that was approved in June of 2013.  The decision was made even after concerns for purchasing these tickets were raised by several Board members. 

At the June 10, 2014 Township Board meeting, Treasurer Langlois requested that a bill not be paid, since she thought it inappropriate for the Township to pay it.  The bill was for $150 to cover 6 people attending a Rochester Chamber of Commerce recognition luncheon for completing some program.  One of the honorees was Supervisor Gonser.

After the June 10th meeting, Treasurer Langlois discovered that the bill had been paid prior to the meeting. This payment not only violated the policy of not paying bills without Board approval (other than those that have defined payment dates such as utility bills), but the Township practice for participants to pay for their own tickets to such events, and the “Principles of Township Governance”.

Treasurer Langlois indicated that when she received an email indicating that tickets would be purchased by the Township, she questioned the appropriateness of doing so.  Trustee Buxar responded in a similar manner.

Treasurer Langlois indicated that “the administration” had approved paying for 6 tickets, even though it had been against previous Township practices.  Several Board members and staff members attended the banquet thinking that they would not have to pay for the tickets.

Incredibly, Clerk Reilly said that when she was initially approached on attending the luncheon, she indicated she would not attend if she had to pay.  When she found out that the Township WOULD PAY for the tickets, she decided to attend.  As the Township Clerk, she also approved the payment of the $150 bill prior to the June 10th Board meeting, violating the approved payment policy.  She indicated that she had not repaid the Township, and did not offer to do so.

Supervisor Gonser indicated that two “attendees” had repaid the Township for the tickets, but did not disclose who attended or paid the Township back.  He indicated that the expense to the Township was only” $100″, and “it was not the end of the world!”.

Gonser went on to say that this incident was due to a “misunderstanding and a lack of a policy”, even though several Board members indicated that this was against the previous practice of the Township.

The Board ultimately approved the payment by a 5 to 2 vote.  Treasurer Langlois and Trustee Buxar were the dissenting votes.

Here are portions of the July 8th Board meeting where this was discussed:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This is yet another example of Supervisor Gonser’s leadership style. The ‘administration’ of our Township consists of Supervisor Gonser, Treasurer Langlois, Clerk Reilly and township manager Ann Capela.  The Treasurer indicated that she did not support the decision. The Clerk indicated she did not make the decision. In a phone call with our Township manager, Ann Capela indicated that Gonser had made the request and she approved it since she thought it was appropriate.  Gonser made this request in spite of the feedback given by Treasurer Langlois and the past Township practice.  Gonser did not have the courage to acknowledge his actions in public.  Gonser’s actions, as well as Clerk Reilly’s, violate the “Principles of Township Governance Policy” approved in June of 2013. We now know why, even though they voted to approve the policy in June of 2013, they refused to sign it!

Principles of Township Governance Excellence document

Richard Michalski

Board refuses to sign “Principles of Township Governance Excellence” Pledge

“State of Township” or “Self aggrandizement”?  You decide!

Township Manager’s views versus resident’s desires

On January 6th, Ann Capela was hired by our Township Board as our Township manager.  In the January 30, 2014 Rochester Post there was an article titled “Township manager seeks smart growth”.    In the article, Ann makes several comments that clarify the direction she wants to take the Township under the leadership of our current Board.  Unfortunately that direction is contrary to what the citizens have expressed in past surveys.  

Here are her quotes in that article:

“Growth is coming.  We must marry up the master plan with development.  The  pressures of development must balance with property owners’ rights.  We must balance the quality of life of people who paid a lot of money to move here.  The economy is coming out of a slow slump.  We need to lay down the tracks for the train and see the big picture.”

Oakland Township has always viewed our Master Plan as the document that defines what our residents want our Township to be.  The Plan defines the level and type of development that our Township desires.  In essence, the “horse’ is the Master Plan and the “cart” is development.  It now appears that our new manager and Supervisor, appear to want to put the “cart” before the “horse” by having the Master plan “marry up” with the development.

As a member of the Township Planning Commission for 26 years, we never placed the desires of developers before the desires of the residents.  One only needs to drive down Rochester Road and the see the results of letting developers define their communities.

Just because someone purchased a parcel of land for a ‘lot of money’ does not entitle them to redefine the land use in the Master Plan.  Individual property rights are protected, however, they are protected within the confines of our Master Plan and Ordinances. Before someone buys a parcel, they should make sure their intended use is consistent with the Zoning and the Master Plan.

In Supervisor Gonser’s recent State of the Township address, he indicated that he plans on updating the Master Plan.   With his recent appointments of campaign contributors to the Planning Commission, we may see some significant changes in our next Master Plan.

Here is one page from the citizen survey used in developing our 2005 and 2011 Master Plans.  It clearly indicates a strong desire by our residents to not encourage various types of development in our Township (click on page to enlarge).

Survey results

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If our Master Plan is significantly modified under our current Township Board, the character of our Township will likely change dramatically.  Our citizens must be vigilant in watching what our new Board and Planning Commission will be doing in the next few months (and years).  If we are not vigilant, the “tracks” that Ann Capela talks about putting down may end up being for the “train” (with significant development) our current Board, under the leadership of Gonser, envisions.

Richard Michalski – former Planning Commission member and Chair

Meet our new Superintendent – Ann Capela

Meet our new Township Superintendent!

On December 7th there was a special Board of Oakland Township meeting.  The purpose of that meeting was to interview six candidates for the Township Superintendent position.  The total number of individuals that responded to the posted position was over 30.  Based on comments made by the recruiting consultant and Supervisor Gonser, the Board had selected the final 6 candidates in a prior Closed Session meeting.

The interview process lasted all day.  It was a very comprehensive process that the recruiting consultant, Jerry Richards from Voorhees Associates, used with the Board members.  There were a series of 26 questions that the Board asked each of the candidates.  After the interview process, the Board reduced the number of final candidates to two.  After several minutes of discussion by the Board, they voted to extend an offer to Ann K. Capela.

Here is a brief summary of her Professional working experience in reverse chronological order:

July 9, 2012 to current – Wayne State University Office of International Students and Scholars

October 2011 to July 2012 – Vice President for outreach, GovServe LLC

December 2008 to September 2011 – City Manager, City of Inkster, Michigan

September 2007 to September 2008 – Transit and Parking Manager of CIty of Durango, Colorado

March 2004 to June 2007 – Town Manager of Minturn, Colorado

November 2000 to April 2003 – County Executive Officer for Imperial County, California

January 1998 to November 13, 2000 – County Administrative Coordinator for Walworth County, Wisconsin

September 1995 to January 1998 –  County Administrative Coordinator for Livingston County, Illinois

1994 – Wayne County Commissioner Constituency Assistant1993 – Detroit Edison internships in the corporate Governmental Affairs Department

1993 – City of Southfield internship in Human Resources Department

1992 – Wayne State University, assistant to faculty

April 1979-May 1992 – General Motors of Canada Production and Quality Control

Ann has a B.A. degree in Political Science from the University of Windsor, and a M.P. A. (Masters in Public Administration) degree from Wayne State University.

Here is a copy of her complete resume:  Ann Capela resume

The interview process began by giving each candidate an opportunity to tell the Board more about their previous experiences, and why they were interested in the position of Superintendent of Oakland Township.

Here is a video of that portion of the interview. It will give you an opportunity to learn more about her:

If you want to watch the entire interview of Ann, please go to the Township website.  It is located under the Special meeting category.  It is at the beginning of the first video in that category.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Superintendent is the individual that leads and manages the day to day operation of the Township.  She will be the person that most citizens will likely encounter when they come to the Township Office.

I wish Ann and the Township well as she works through the many issues facing our Township.

Richard Michalski