Tag Archives: Dictatorship

Supervisor Gonser violated Charter Township Act in 2014!

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

At the June 14 , 2016 Board meeting, the Township attorney was asked to review the historical documents, and determine if Supervisor Gonser had authority to sign an easement agreement without Board knowledge or approval. At the June 28, 2016 Board meeting, the attorney concluded, even though there were past administrative failures that resulted in the easement not being officially approved and recorded back in 2004, Supervisor Gonser should have brought the issue to the Board prior to him signing it on September 3, 2014.  His signature violated the Charter Township Act.

  • Supervisor Gonser, attempted to prevent the attorney’s conclusions from being made public.
  • Supervisor Gonser tried to blame the attorney by saying there were undocumented conversations on this matter and that he “was not advised not to bring it to the Board”. (There was no evidence that the attorney was ever aware of the issue prior to the June 14, 2016 meeting.)
  • Supervisor Gonser indicated there had been considerable discussion prior to signing the agreement, even though he could not recall anything about this issue at the June 14th Board meeting.
  • Supervisor Gonser tried to blame the Planning Commission for the administrative issue that resulted in the failure to have the deed recorded back in 2004, even though it was not the Planning Commissions responsibility.
  • Supervisor Gonser attempted to defend his failure to bring it to the Board for review and agreement, even though his actions violated the Charter Township Act, by saying:

    “What would have been the difference!  . . . . .It was a done deal!”

So what happens now?  Since there never was an official Board motion (in 2004 or 2014) to approve the easement agreement, and the Board wants to understand the Township’s legal responsibility for this easement, the issue will come back to the Board for final resolution.

Here is a video of the meeting proceedings.  It does provide a very clear picture of Supervisor Gonser’s thought process and character.

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Since there were previous commitments made regarding the easement but they had not been officially recorded, the Township administrative procedures need to be reviewed to ensure this type of failure does not occur again.

However, the Supervisor’s:

  • lack of understanding that the issue should have been brought to the Board,
  • his rationalization for violating the Charter Township Act because “What would have been the difference?”,
  • his apparent selective memory on this issue by his conflicting comments made at the June 14th and 28th meetings,
  • his lack of understanding of the responsibilities of the Planning Commission,
  • his accusing two residents of ‘parsing’ his words,
  • and his attempts to place blame on others,

should raise concerns by our citizens.  Is this the type of leader we want as Supervisor for the next four years?  He has previously indicated he wants to take over all administrative responsibilities for the Township and eliminate our full time professional Township manager position. Do you really think we can trust him?

Personally, I think he would have been better off if he had simply admitted that he “screwed up” and should have brought it to the Board.   There is no harm in admitting to a mistake – trying to place blame on others for a personal failure is another matter.  ‘Nixonian’ is the best term I can come up with to describe his behavior.

Richard Michalski

 

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

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

Planning Commissioner disappointed that Gonser did not add much needed experience to Planning Commission

At the September 1, 2015 Planning Commission meeting, Planning Commissioner Danny Beer expressed his disappointment that the Supervisor did not take advantage of the experienced candidates that submitted their applications for the two open Planning Commission positions.  He acknowledged the need for adding people with Planning experience to the inexperienced Planning Commission and said the Supervisor “missed the boat by not putting some experience on this Planning Commission.”

Danny Beer is a Gonser appointment to the Planning Commission.  He was added to the Planning Commission in 2014.  Danny was present at the September 31st Board meeting where two Planning Commission appointments were to have been made.  As previously reported, Supervisor Gonser wanted to appoint two individuals with no Zoning or Planning experience.  The Board did not accept his recommendations.  Gonser refused to nominate other candidates that did have Planning or Zoning experience.

At the September 1 Planning Commission meeting, Danny Beer stated:

“I was disappointed, personally disappointed, that there wasn’t more consideration given to the applicants who had a lot of experience. There were a a couple of people that were very anxious to be a part of this, with a lot of background, and I am new and have less planning experience than you guys that have at least dealt with it in your other workings.  I never have.

In my opinion, we need some experienced help –  some people to fall back on.  Both of you guys have been very helpful, John and Ron, but we are all new at this, and I really feel we missed the boat by not putting some experience on this Planning Commission! “

Other Planning Commission members expressed their hope that the Supervisor would nominate one or two of the candidates that have the much needed experience and have submitted their applications for the openings.

Here is a video of the discussion at the Planning Commission meeting:

Adding fuel to the fire, Gonser was quoted in an article in the 9/1/15 edition of the Oakland Press as saying:

“I have to talk to people around the community and see who’s interested.  Unless they’ve served on the planning commission, they don’t have experience.”

This statement reveals two things:

  • He does not intend to nominate any of the more experienced people who have applied for consideration.
  • He either doesn’t understand the type of experience being sought by the Board members who spoke on the record  on the matter or he is spitefully misrepresenting their opinions in order to present himself as a victim of the Board’s refusal to support him.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  With six of the seven Board members recognizing the need for adding Planning experience to the Planning Commission, with several candidates having the much needed experience, and with a plea for help from the Planning Commission for that help, why would the Supervisor be reluctant to appoint individuals that have submitted their applications and are very qualified to help the Planning Commission?

If Gonser does not take appropriate action at the next Board meeting, I am afraid the Township may get involved in yet another legal issue that will do nothing but hurt Oakland Township.

The Supervisor needs to accept reality, and do what is right for the Township, not his ego!

Richard Michalski and Jim Foulkrod

 

 

Oakland Township hires new Township Manager/Superintendent

At the February 24, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Board announced, and approved, an employment agreement with Mr. Warren P. Brown as our new Township Manager/Superintendent.  Mr. Brown is currently the County Administrator for Sandusky County in Fremont Ohio.  

This approval came after two sets of interviews and public ‘meet and greet’ sessions.  The second set of interviews was required because several Board members had lingering concerns over how the candidates would have handled the many examples of unauthorized actions by our Supervisor.  The second set of interviews apparently convinced a majority of the Board that Mr. Brown was not only qualified for the position, but would respond to Supervisor Gonser’s unauthorized actions appropriately.

On January 23, 2015, interviews with three potential candidates for the Manager/Superintendent position took place.  Those interviews can be watched by visiting the Township website. A ‘meet and greet’ event took place the following day where the Board members and citizens could meet and interact with all three candidates.

During the initial interview, each applicant was asked if they had any questions or comments after the Board had completed their questions.  Mr. Brown asked the Board:

“I have been abundantly honest with you.  I trust that you will be with me.  You have had two managers in a year.  Can you tell me why?”

When he saw that the Board was struggling providing an answer, he said:

“If I am off base, just tell me right now. . . . .  Maybe that’s a conversation we will share tomorrow (during ‘meet and greet’) if I am invited back.”

Trustee Bailey responded by saying:

“I would personally prefer that approach… You are going to get a lot of different answers!”

During the January 27, 2015 deliberations regarding which candidate to select, several Township Board members were not comfortable that they understood how each of the candidates would respond to Supervisor Gonser’s attempts at assuming more responsibility than what he legally possessed.  This concern drove the need for a second set of interviews, this time with more direct questions.  Each Board member was asked to provide a list of potential questions.  They would be consolidated for use during the second interview.

The first and most direct question asked during the second interview was:

“The majority of the Board has voted to continue with our current form of governance in which the Superintendent/Manager is to fully handle the duties and responsibilities spelled out in Ordinance 97 in accordance with Charter Township Act 359.

However, the Supervisor continues to work full time and involves himself in significant portions of these duties and responsibilities.

Tell us what you would do to handle, or overcome this apparent conflict.  Have you ever encountered a similar situation, and what did you do in that circumstance to deal with that situation?”

Mr. Brown’s response apparently satisfied the Board members.  Here is a video of his response:

The majority of the Board selected Mr. Brown at the January 27th meeting, pending the final employment agreement, in a 5 to 2 vote.  Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann voted against the selection of Mr. Brown.  They were supportive of hiring the candidate that stated “I do not see a problem” with the Supervisor’s unauthorized actions.

There have been a number of previous post on this website dealing with Supervisor Gonser’s (and Trustee Thalmann’s) repeated attempts at changing the form of governance in Oakland Township.  In those posts, the reasons for having a professional Superintendent/ Manager handle the responsibilities defined in Ordinance 97 have been clearly stated.

The Board deals Gonser a one-two punch

Supervisor Gonser plots a vote to grant Supervisor ‘strong supervisor powers

Supervisor Gonser thinks Oakland Township form of government is ‘bizarre’ and unworkable

Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann attempt (once again) to have “Strong Supervisor” structure in Oakland Township

Trustees reject Supervisor Gonser’s desire to become a “Strong Supervisor”

It appears that we now have a qualified, fully empowered, person to fulfill those responsibilities.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Township now has a well qualified, experienced, person that will be managing the Township in conformance with the responsibilities that he has been given.  He now recognizes the challenges that the former two Managers/Superintendents had in dealing with Gonser’s continued efforts to perform in a “Strong Supervisor” form of government, contrary the desires of the community and the Board.  He also recognizes he has the backing of the Board in dealing with any future authority issues with Supervisor Gonser.

Supervisor Gonser has repeatedly corrected citizens when they state that we have a ‘democracy’.   He corrects them by saying our government is a ‘democratic republic’, not a ‘democracy’.  The difference is that in a democratic republic, the citizens make their decisions during the elections, after that, the elected officials are the ones who make the decisions (not the citizens).

It appears that Supervisor Gonser now also understands that the Township elected officials (i.e..other Board members) have the authority to prevent a dictatorial form of government in our community.  .

I complement the Board for taking this long awaited action, and wish Mr. Brown a warm welcome, and a long tenure as our Township’s Manager/ Superintendent.

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

 

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