Tag Archives: Board of Trustees

Civility will return to Oakland Township! Our reputation restored!

Congratulations! Our collective efforts have been successful!

Voting_icon

Here are the names of the unofficial winners of the Oakland Township Board positions for 2016-2020 – pending the results of the November election:

Supervisor – Mike Bailey

Treasurer – Jeanne Langlois

Clerk – Karen Reilly

Trustee – Robin Buxar

Trustee – Frank Ferriolo

Trustee – John Giannangeli

Trustee – Lana Mangiapane  (only member of Terry Gonser’s ‘ticket’)

Here are the names of the unofficial winners of the Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission positions for 2016-2020 – pending the results of the November election:

Emily Barkham

Craig Blust

Dan Bukowski

Colin Choi

Cathy Rooney

Daniel Simon

Hank Van Agen

In addition, both the Parks renewal millage and the OPC transportation millage were approved.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?

With these public servants:

  • Civil, ethical and professional behavior will be restored at both the Board and Parks Commission level.
  • Turmoil regarding the form of governance in Oakland Township will be eliminated.
  • The certainty of the position of Township Manager will enable us to have the most qualified professional municipal manager run the day to day operations in the Township.
  • Conflicts between the Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission will be eliminated.
  • The great reputation of our Township will be restored.

Will there be difficult and contentious issues our community will have to deal with?  Absolutely!  Will there be differences of opinion on how to resolve the issues?  Absolutely!

However, we have seen how the returning Board members have developed and worked together as a team over the past few years.  Our future looks bright!

Thanks to all the great candidates that chose to run for office!  Thanks to the retiring Parks and Recreation Commission members for ‘vetting’ the new Commission’s candidates, so their legacy will continue!  Thanks to the countless others that helped get the new officials elected! Thanks to all those who have been following this website!  Thanks to all of those who contributed to the ‘Oakland Township Watchers Action Committee’ for helping to make the election results a success!

BUT, most of all, thanks to all those who voted!

YOUR VOTE COUNTED!

Richard Michalski & Jim Foulkrod

 

 

 

Legal review underway to determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to commit Township to significant financial liability without Board knowledge or approval

At the June 14, 2016 Oakland Township Board meeting, Treasurer Langlois disclosed that on September 3, 2014, Supervisor Gonser signed a safety path easement agreement with a property owner to transfer “all responsibility and liability for the safety path and boardwalk to the Township and its residents”.  This agreement was done without any knowledge, or agreement, from the Township Board.  

The agreement could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost to the Township in repair and/or replacement of that badly deteriorated path.  The property involved is on the Southwest corner of Adams and Silverbell Roads.   The parcel is currently owned by a Moceri entity. It was purchased from the church on that corner approximately 90 days after the easement was signed. The easement document that the Supervisor signed indicates that it was prepared by an employee of a Moceri entity.  (The ownership information was corrected after the initial post.   The change in ownership was incorrectly stated as just the opposite of what is now correctly stated.)

Treasurer Langlois stated there is no evidence of a Board review, or a Legal review of this matter (the Township attorney did not appear to have any knowledge of the agreement).  She also stated:

“I do not believe Supervisor Gonser had, or has, the authority to accept easements on behalf of the Township.  Only the Board of Trustees has that authority. The document appears to show an overreach on the part of the Supervisor, and a complete improper action.”

Supervisor Gonser sat silent for almost 3 minutes while others spoke before he stated:

“Unfortunately I don’t remember why I signed it.  I can only state that it certainly did not come in a vacuum.  Someone had to present it to me and indicated it was appropriate to sign, but I don’t remember the specifics of it.” 

He made no attempt at explaining why he did not bring it to the Board for approval, or even for information.

Trustee Ferriolo stated:

“No matter what was involved in the history and rationale for doing it, it should have been brought to the Board.”

The Township attorney has agreed to perform an investigation on this issue and will report out at the next meeting scheduled for June 28, 2016.

 

Here is a video of the June 14th discussion:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  We certainly must wait for the results of the Legal investigation to be complete before we draw any final conclusions, but Supervisor Gonser’s signature, and lack of willingness to inform the entire Board of his actions, is consistent with previous behavior.

This website has reported that Supervisor Gonser has repeatedly attempted to change the governance structure of Oakland Township to one where he would become a full time “Strong Supervisor”. He has taken several unilateral actions without Board approval.  The Board has repeatedly responded by reaffirming Ordinance 97, which limits the Supervisor’s responsibilities, and maintains a professional Township manager who reports to the entire Board.

Here are some key points:

  • This easement agreement will certainly result in significant added costs to our Township.
  • It appears to have been made unilaterally without Board knowledge or agreement.
  • Under normal conditions, Gonser’s action could have resulted in a recall campaign being held.
  • Gonser is currently a candidate for election on August 2nd.
  • The Absentee ballots are going out on June 29th.
  • It is essential that the Legal review be completed by the June 28th Board meeting,
  • It is absolutely essential that we get adequate press coverage immediately after the June 28th meeting, so people can make an informed decision prior to sending in their absentee ballot.

My recommendation is that the Board be prepared to issue a press release on June 29th to the Oakland Press and the Rochester Post informing them of the outcome of the investigation.  If there are acceptable reasons for Gonser’s signature, there may be no need for the press release.  However, the press release may still be necessary since Gonser should have brought it to the Board for information.

The citizens need to have a clear understanding of this situation before they vote!

Richard Michalski

Kalamazoo Township joins the growing number of townships with our form of governance

In December of 2015, the Charter Township of Kalamazoo approved a motion moving their township from a full time Supervisor form of governance to one with a part time Supervisor and a professional manager.  They concluded their community would be better served by having a form of governance similar to Oakland Township’s.

Our current Supervisor, Terry Gonser, has spent three years trying to change our structure to what Kalamazoo is moving away from.  Supervisor Gonser has called our current form of governance “bizarre” and “unworkable” in an Oakland Press article.  

The Kalamazoo Board now understands the wisdom former Oakland Township Supervisor Joan Buser (and the Board at the time) had when our form of governance was changed to it’s current form in 1998.

 

In a recently published article on this website, Oakland Township Clerk Reilly indicated that other townships in the state of Michigan are moving toward Oakland Township’s current form of governance.  One of our residents, Reg Brown, commented that the Charter Township of Kalamazoo was joining those ranks.  On December 14, 2015, the Charter Township of Kalamazoo voted to hire a professional Township manager and a finance director to take effect in November of 2016.

The discussion that occurred at their Board meeting was similar to the many that have occurred at our Board meetings when Supervisor Gonser repeatedly attempted to change our structure to make his position a full time position.

Here is an excerpt from the approved Kalamazoo Board motion.  It does a very good job of capturing the benefits of our (and soon to be their) form of township governance:

“The positions of the Township manager and Financial director would:

  • provide continuity from election to election assuring a stabilizing effect for the efficient Township administrative operations and procedures,
  • professionally address the complexity and sophistication of urban Township operations including an $8 million general fund budget serving nearly 22,000 residents and
  • would assure the implementation of policies and directives of the Township Board.”

One of their Trustee’s stated:

“This proposal is the best chance for professionally managing Township Operations.”

In 1998 Oakland Township Supervisor Joan Buser (who has a Masters Degree in Public Administration)  worked with the Board to change our governance structure away from the “Strong Supervisor” form of governance to the current form of governance.  She stated in a previous post on this matter:

  • “During my tenure I met with many supervisors in Oakland County. Very few were qualified for their position.
  • The results can be seen most dramatically in the zoning ordinances and ordinance compliance.
  • When you drive through the townships that lacked good supervisors you can see what happened when a supervisor was inexperienced and there was no professional manager to help.
  • Once a development occurs that is not compliant with township ordinances you have that eyesore forever.
  • Before running for office, I had worked thirteen years in various capacities for Oakland Township.
  • Holding a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, I did not need a manager, because I was, effectively, a professional manager and an elected Supervisor.
  • Very few citizens have such qualifications. That is why a qualified manager is needed to make things run properly.
  • The Board sets the goals for the township, and the manager facilitates the implementation of these goals.”

Many of her points are the same as those expressed by the Kalamazoo Board members.  Their current Supervisor, Ronald Reid, was a strong supporter, and champion, for making the change in their community.

I strongly suggest that you watch the following video from Kalamazoo Township’s December meeting.  The proposal passed in a 5 to 2 vote.  Their clerk and one trustee were in the minority.  In the clerk’s comments, he raised a potential concern where he could support the proposal.  It is precisely a reason why we do not want a Strong Supervisor form of governance.

 

Joan Buser has a great mind and was a visionary! 

 

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  This year’s township elections have several candidates who appear to support going back to the “Strong  Supervisor” form of governance. If re-elected, current Supervisor Gonser will continue to push for making his position a full time position, despite the fact that he does not have the training to “professionally address the complexity and sophistication of urban Township operations” as stated in Kalamazoo’s proposal.

Trustee candidate Lana Mangiapane gave a presentation at the recent ‘Meet and Greet’ in which she claimed Joan Buser hired a professional manager because:

“With retirement on the horizon and wishing to become part time, Mrs. Buser hired Mr. Jim Creech to be the Township Manager in 1998.”

Lana failed to either understand, or acknowledge, the wisdom and fore-site Joan Buser had for the needs of our rapidly growing Township.

This website has posted the position and rationale of many Board candidates on this issue. One candidate, Jeaneane Landers, is still studying the issue.

The following candidates have declined to provide their position and rationale on this issue:

  • Terry Gonser – Supervisor Candidate
  • Andy Zale – Supervisor Candidate
  • Judy Workings – Clerk Candidate
  • Jayson Corey – Trustee Candidate
  • Lana Mangiapane – Trustee Candidate

The absentee ballots will be going out on June 29, 2016 in the mail.  Please consider the candidates responses (or their lack of response) when you vote.

Richard Michalski

 

 

POSITIONS OF OAKLAND TOWNSHIP BOARD CANDIDATES ON AN IMPORTANT ISSUE

The editors of this website have reached out to all of the candidates that are running for Oakland Township Board positions this summer.  We have asked for their opinion on an important issue facing our Township.  The issue pertains to the form of governance Oakland Township will possess in the future.  Will it be the “Board/Manager” form of governance that we currently have, or will it be the full time “Strong Supervisor” form that current Supervisor Gonser has been proposing since being elected in 2012?

Responses from 11 of the 15 candidates can be seen by going to the top of this page and clicking on the “2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS” tab.  A drop down menu will appear where you can click on, and read, each of the candidate’s positions on this matter.  (For hand held devices, click on the ‘MENU’ tab, then the “2016 CANDIDATE OPINIONS” tab will appear.)

You can also view each of their opinions by clicking on their names here:

We have not received opinions from four candidates after repeated attempts (two emails and one phone conversation with each of the candidates who had not provided their opinion). This post is being published on the day each of them was informed the information would be posted.  (Andy Zale’s response came in two weeks after the deadline.)

We have not received responses from:

  • Terry Gonser – Supervisor Candidate
  • Judy Workings – Clerk Candidate
  • Jayson Corey – Trustee Candidate
  • Lana Mangiapane – Trustee Candidate

Please consider the positions of the candidates on this issue when you vote on August 2, 2016.  Also, please share this information with friends and relatives in our community.  So far, this is the only forum where candidate opinions on issues have been shared.

NOTE: If you have another issue that you would like to obtain each candidate’s opinion on, please make that request by adding a comment at the bottom of this page. We will try to get responses from the candidates on the issue you raised.

Richard Michalski

Oakland Township’s ‘Manager’ or ‘Superintendent’ form of governance is growing in popularity in State

As many of you are aware, Supervisor Gonser, and former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, made repeated attempts at changing Oakland Township’s structure from a “Manager” form of governance to a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance.  He and Maureen wanted to change the Supervisor position to a full time position and eliminate the full time professional manager position.  The Supervisor would assume all of the day to day operations in the Township with assistance from a part time support person.

At the April 12, 2016 BOT meeting, Clerk Karen Reilly reported that many Township’s in the state are moving away from the ‘Strong Supervisor” form of governance to what we currently have in Oakland Township.  

Here is a video of Karen Reilly’s comments:

There have been many previous articles posted on this website regarding Supervisor Goner’s attempts at changing the structure of our Township.  Many of them cover the reasons why our current ‘Manager’ structure is preferred, and why Supervisor Gonser’s actions are reasons why a “Strong Supervisor” form of governance is not in Oakland Township’s best interest. Other communities are apparently coming to the same conclusion.

Here are links to previous posts on this topic:

2013

2014

2015

The above articles make it clear why other communities are moving AWAY FROM their “Strong Supervisor” structures TO what Supervisor Gonser considers a “bizarre and unworkable” form of governance.  Maybe the ‘bizarre and unworkable’ adjectives apply to Supervisor Gonser, as former Township manager Warren Brown suggested in his resignation statement noted above.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser is planning on running for reelection this summer and fall.  Although he did not disclose his desire to change how Oakland Township is structured prior to his election in 2012, his actions over the past few years make it clear what his intentions were and continue to be.

Between now and the primary elections this summer, there will certainly be discussions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of governance.  I recommend you read some of the previous postings listed above to familiarize yourself with why we have our current ‘Manager’ form of governance.

It is very interesting that other communities are moving away from what Supervisor Gonser is proposing.  Our current structure has helped create our outstanding community.  It appears other communities are beginning to see the wisdom of our ways.

Please consider Terry Gonser’s position on this in the upcoming summer election.

Richard Michalski

Editorial Comment: Candidates for Oakland Township Supervisor

As many of you know, this website has two editors, Jim Foulkrod and myself (Richard Michalski). Generally we agree on most topics. One clear example of this, shared with many in our Township, is that our current Supervisor, Terry Gonser, cannot be re-elected as Supervisor due to the many inappropriate things he has done while Supervisor. A long documented list of these actions can be reviewed in the following post:

Post summarizing the many examples of Terry Gonser’s ‘ethics’ while in office.

However, Jim and I disagree on who is most qualified to be our next Supervisor. I would like to share with you my reasons why I think Mike Bailey is the most qualified candidate. I will also make a suggestion that may help achieve our mutual goal of ensuring Terry Gonser does not get re-elected in a three person race.

In one of my previous posts, I listed qualities I felt were important in our next Supervisor. Here they are again:

  • Township experience, especially in Township planning
  • Knowledge of how our Township works,
  • An understanding of the issues we are facing,
  • Personal involvement in resolving the many issues,
  • No desire to change our form of governance
  • No desire to use the Supervisor position as a jumping point for higher political positions

I will comment on each of these as they relate to Terry Gonser, Andy Zale and Mike Bailey.

Township experience

Terry Gonser got elected with no Township governance experience. He won the support of many because he was an outspoken advocate on several volatile issues our Township faced in 2012. Many former supporters now admit that they had not properly vetted Terry. His lack of Township governance experience contributed to the massive dysfunction in our Township over the past term.

Andy Zale was elected in 2012 as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner. He was selected as the Commission’s chairperson. He has done a marvelous job chairing the often-contentious meetings. However, Andy has not participated, or made his opinions known on the many issues our Township has faced over the past 4 years. He has only participated in Township Board meetings when there were Parks issues that needed to be addressed.

Mike Bailey has been personally involved in our Township for 28 years. He and I shared many of them on the Planning Commission. Much of what we see and love in our Township is due to the great planning that has occurred. Mike has been an integral part of that. More recently, he has been on the Township Board, and has continued to serve our community in a positive manner.

 Knowledge of how our Township works

Supervisor Gonser came into office with no knowledge of how our Township works. Two groups of employees in our Township joined unions during his tenure, the Firefighters and the Parks and Recreation employees. Their decision was the direct result of the actions of Terry Gonser and others on the Board. Many talented staff members, who helped create our great Township, left their positions during his term in office and now serve other communities.

Andy Zale is gaining an understanding of how our Township works; however, his Parks experience is only one small piece of our Township. More experience will help him.

Mike on the other hand has worked with all the departments involved in our Township as a Planning Commissioner and Trustee. He knows why our Township has benefitted from having a professional Township Manager over the years (more on this issue later).

Understanding of the issues we are facing

Terry Gonser certainly has a good understanding of the issues facing our Township. He has contributed in creating many of them. We have not been able to solve many longstanding issues because valuable time has been lost searching for a Township manager that could work with, and around, Terry’s authoritarian, omnipotent and omniscient behavior.

As stated earlier, Andy is on a learning curve. In discussions with others who have been talking with Andy, he is attempting to get an understanding of the issues, and he needs to be complemented for his efforts.

On the other hand, Mike needs no ‘ramping up’. As an existing Board member, he is ‘in the know’ on all of the major issues facing our Township.

Personal involvement in resolving current issues

Certainly, as the Township Supervisor, Gonser should be involved in resolving our issues. However, his solutions and positions on issues are often the ‘minority position’ on the Board. Differences of opinion are good, however, voters should review Terry’s position on many of the votes that have taken place.  Our other elected representative officials often do not agree with his positions, or where he would take us.

Andy has done a great job in resolving issues on the Parks and Recreation Commission. He has not gotten involved in many other issues in our Township.

Mike has, and is, actively participated in many of the subcommittees that the Board has established to deal with issues facing our Township. He has also participated in many volunteer efforts representing out Township such as ‘clean scene’.

No desire to change our Township’s form of governance

Terry Gonser, and former Trustee Maureen Thalmann, wasted many hours at Township Board meetings trying to convince the Board that we should have a ‘Stong Supervisor’ form of governance in our Township. This would eliminate the full time professional Township administrator, and have the Supervisor be the full time person who would make the day-to-day administrative decisions in our Township. Terry never disclosed his desire to change our Township’s form of governance prior to being elected.

In my initial conversation with Andy Zale, before he announced his candidacy for Supervisor, I asked him his position on having a ‘Strong Supervisor’ or a ‘Manager’ form of government in Oakland Township. His response was “I can see the benefits of both.”   He would not take a position on this matter at that time. More recently, when asked the question again, he indicated that he supported the ‘Manager’ form of governance, but added, “I have spoken with Orion Township Supervisor Barnett, and see the benefits of that form of governance.” Andy added that he had a full time job, and would not be able to be a full time Supervisor. From my standpoint, this is almost a disqualifying position on the matter. Having personally listened to the many arguments on both sides of this issue in Township Board meeting, Andy’s ambiguity on this issue indicated that he did not yet understand Oakland Township’s governance needs. Fortunately, he has now taken the position that he does not support the ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of governance. More exposure to how our Township works will hopefully solidify his position on this matter.

Mike not only understands the benefits of having a profession Township manager, but has strongly stated he is opposed to the ‘Strong Supervisor’ form of governance.

No desire to use the Supervisor position as a political jumping off point

Others have told me that Terry Gonser had, and may still have, ambitions for running for higher public offices. I cannot confirm this, but I have heard it from a number of individuals. My opinion is that our elected officials need to focus on the job they were elected to fill. All energy should be spent on serving the will of their electorate; not taking actions that would be self-serving for future political desires.

In a recent conversation I had with Andy, he indicated that his first choice was to run for State Representative. Others told him that he did not have the experience, and needed more time in an elected position at the local level. That is why he chose to run for Township Supervisor.

In a recent conversation I had with Mike, he confirmed that he had no aspirations to higher elected office. He wanted to spend time helping Oakland Township move forward in a manner that maintains the beauty and character that has made it the place we all love to live.

EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

WE KNOW WHAT WE HAVE WITH MIKE BAILEY!

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township, and what can you do about it? Our Township cannot afford to have another four year of Terry Gonser as our Supervisor. We currently have two additional candidates, Andy Zale and Mike Bailey. Either would be a significant improvement over Terry Gonser.

With three candidates in the running, the potential for Gonser to win increases. Several citizens have commented that if Terry wins, we would lose the valued services of both Andy and Mike.

I have expressed my opinion as to whom I prefer for Supervisor. You may or may not agree, but if you agree that either would be better for our Township than Terry Gonser, and you would like to see both Andy and Mike continue to serve our Township, I suggest you visit the following websites, and email your preferred candidate letting him know of your support AND also email the other candidate, encouraging him to run for Trustee. We do need both of these valued individuals serving our Township.  Please send your emails soon, so Andy or Mike can revise their decision regarding which office to run for prior to the filing deadline of April 19th.

We cannot afford to loose the service of both.

Here are their websites:

Andy Zale                   http://www.AndyZale.com

Mike Bailey                http://www.MikeBaileySupervisor.com

Thank You!

Richard Michalski

 

 

 

 

 

REMINDER: Meet Mike Bailey – Candidate for Supervisor – this Sunday Afternoon!

As previously reported, current Oakland Township Board Trustee, Mike Bailey, has announced his candidacy for Township Supervisor. His campaign kick-off – “Meet the Candidate Open House” –  is scheduled for Sunday March 13, 2016 at the Cranberry Lake Farm. Light refreshments will be provided.

The informal get together will be between 2 and 5 PM. Please drop in to meet Mike and discuss any concerns you may have about our Township.

The specifics on the event are::

SUNDAY March 13th between 2:00 TO 5:00 PM

384 West Predmore Road

Oakland Township, MI 48363

If you have not had the opportunity to visit the Cranberry Lake Farm facilities, it would be a great opportunity to do so and meet Mike.

Here is the brochure on the event (click on brochure to enlarge):

Mike Bailey pictureMike Bailey flier 1

EDITORIAL COMMENT by Richard Michalski

Mike has decided to put his many years of experience (gained while serving our community for 28 years on various Township Commissions and Boards) to greater use by running for Township Supervisor.  

As you may know, the Township has been plagued by many issues since current Supervisor Terry Gonser was elected in 2012.  Many were a result of his own actions.  Many people who supported him in 2012 now acknowledge that he was not properly ‘vetted’, and they no longer support him. 

Supervisor Gonser’s repeated attempts to change the structure of our Township’s governance, by making himself a ‘Strong Supervisor’, was a major reason for the trauma our Township has suffered. He had no experience in our Township’s governance or understanding of its structure, yet he wanted to make himself the main decision maker on all matters that affect the Township. The other Board members finally recognized this, and have recently ‘pulled in the reigns’.  Since he is running for office again, Gonser will likely continue to attempt to change our Township’s structure, resulting in ongoing conflict at the Board level, and a lack of progress on Township issues.

The citizens of Oakland Township can avoid this by electing Mike Bailey as our Supervisor.  Mike brings with him:

  • many years of Township experience, especially in Township planning
  • the knowledge of how our Township works,
  • an understanding of the issues we are facing,
  • personal involvement in resolving many of them,
  • no desire to change our form of governance and
  • no desire to use the Supervisor position as a jumping point for higher political positions.  

Neither of the other two announced candidates for Supervisor possess this collection of attributes. So please come and meet Mike on Sunday, and consider supporting him for the August election.

EXPERIENCE MATTERS!

WE KNOW WHAT WE HAVE WITH MIKE BAILEY!

He is an honorable person who will focus on serving the community – not looking for something that is ‘in it for himself’.

One only need visit the following recent post to understand why Mike Bailey must replace Terry Gonser:

Post summarizing the many examples of Terry Gonser’s ‘ethics’ while in office.

If you are appalled by this behavior, and want to see a change for the good, please come out and meet Mike on Sunday, and consider giving him your support for August.

Richard Michalski