Tag Archives: Parks and Recreation

Reason for Parks Commissioner Rogers removal from personnel committee now apparent – so why did Schmidt and Rogers storm out of meeting in protest?

The recent findings from the Oakland Township Attorneys’ investigation into the forwarding of Privileged and Confidential material by Parks Commissioner Rogers and former trustee Thalmann shed light on some of the proceedings at the January 14, 2015 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.  Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt stormed out of that Commission meeting in protest to Ann Marie being removed from Personnel Committee.

At the January 14th meeting, one of the agenda items was the approval of the Chairman Zale’s recommended committee members.  He has the authority to make recommendations, but they must be approved by a majority vote of the Commission.

Chairman Zale recommended that Commissioner Rogers be replaced by Commissioner Perruzi on the Personnel Committee.  Former (in office at that time) Trustee Thalmann attempted to influence Mr. Zale.  However, Mr. Zale indicated he wanted Mr. Perruzi to be on that committee.  Commissioner Rogers objected to the change, and the change was approved in a 5 to 2 vote. Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt were in the minority.

Commissioner Schmidt indicated he did not agree with how the proceedings went, and suggested he would disclose some information that would make visible to the citizens of Oakland Township the reasons for Mr. Zale’s recommendation.

In protest, Commissioners Rogers and Schmidt walked out of the meeting. As they were walking out Mr. Schmidt stated:

“You people are the worst bunch of conniving people that I have ever met in my entire life! “

Earlier he said he wanted to make sure the Commission would be

“accountable for what you have done!”

Here is a video of meeting proceedings as described above:

 

Mr. Schmidt never did present the material that he alluded to in his comment, but the results of the Township Attorneys’ investigation, specifically Ms. Rogers sharing the November 13, 2015 ‘attorney client’ protected documents, gives a very clear indication of the reasons for Mr. Zale’s recommendation.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Chairman Zale had the authority to make subcommittee appointments.  Mr. Zale clearly had reasons for making his recommendations.

Walking out of a meeting in the manner that both Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Rogers did is not only unprofessional, but may have violated their oath of office.

Commissioner Schmidt has aligned himself with Ms. Rogers on many issues.  I trust he feels that same way about ‘accountability’ now that Commissioner Rogers’ actions are being investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s office.

Oakland Township would be well served if Commissioner Rogers steps down.

Richard Michalski

Related article:

Former Trustee Thalmann and Current Park’s Commissioner Rogers DID forward “Privileged and Confidential” material!

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

We need your help! Supervisor Gonser does it again!

If you have been following the information we have been sharing regarding the behavior of Supervisor Gonser, the information included in this post will come as no surprise to you. However, it has now reached the point where the citizens of Oakland Township need to express their opinions on his inappropriate, unauthorized decisions.

The most recent incident involves a decision he made on the possible use of park land.  His action is consistent with his desire to control the, separately elected, Parks Commission.

After reading this, if you find his behavior unacceptable and are concerned about the impact of this pipeline on our park, we invite you to the December 9th Oakland Township Board meeting at 7 PM and let the Board know your position.  It is not officially on the agenda, but some Board members may add it.  If it is not placed on the agenda, you will still be able to provide your input during the ‘citizen comments’ section of the meeting.  

Here is the background on this issue:

  • At the November 12, 2014 Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) meeting, Chris Hawthorne, an employee of EnSite who represents Vector Pipeline, gave a presentation describing a proposal to install a 42 inch diameter high pressure gas line (up to 1000 psi) through our Township.
  • This pipeline is intended to transmit natural gas from Illinois, through Indiana and to Canada.
  • 95% of the pipeline route through the state is intended to follow an existing pipeline and utilize the currently approved rights-of-way (ROW’s already going through our Township).
  • Vector Pipeline wants to deviate from the existing right-of-way in one area of our Township by putting the pipeline through Draper Twin Lakes Park.
  • The stated reason for the deviation was that installing the pipe through the existing right-of-way was “extremely tight”.
  • They were asking permission from the Parks Commission to survey the land to determine the feasibility of routing the pipeline through the park.
  • During questioning, the representative stated that all Supervisors in the affected communities had previously been contacted regarding this project.
  • The Parks Commission members were not aware of any previous communication on this issue.
  • When PRC chairman Zale asked if any Commission members would like to make a motion to approve the request, there was silence. As a result, the request was denied.
  • The Parks Commission did not approve the request on the basis that the park land has deed restrictions that prevent the pipeline from going through it.
  • A few days later, parks personnel observed individuals from EnSite USA surveying Draper Twin Lakes Park.
  • Upon further investigation, Mr. Harthorne indicated that after he did not receive permission to perform the survey from the PRC, he contacted Supervisor Gonser, and Supervisor Gonser gave him permission to do the requested work.

Here is a copy of the map showing the proposed path for the pipeline through Oakland and Macomb Counties.

Proposed gas line route

 

Click on the map to see a larger version of it.

Here is a copy of the map showing the proposed route for the pipeline through the Draper Twin Lakes park: (The yellow line is the existing pipeline and approved ROW.  The red line is the proposed path through the park.) 

Proposed gasline route vs. existing gasline ROW

Click on the map to see a larger version of it.

Here is a video showing the typical impact of the installation of this type of gas line:

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Supervisor Gonser did not have the authority to authorize the surveying work.  He appears to not be concerned about the impact of a gas pipeline through our Parks.

Gonser unilaterally made this decision, totally disregarding the PRC’s stance on this matter.  The park land is the PRC’s responsibility, not the Supervisor’s.  He did not have any public communication on this matter with other Township Board or PRC members.

His lack of knowledge regarding the impact gas lines can have in a community is exemplified by his total disregard for the location of a gas line near his home. As part of an settlement agreement in a personal protection order (PPO) request made by his neighbor against him, he agreed to move a tree that he planted on his neighbor’s property.  When Gonser had a company move the tree, a gas line was ruptured.  He did not utilize ‘mis-dig’ to locate the line prior to attempting to move the tree.

It appears that when Gonser wants to get something done, he does not consider the correct process to be followed, or the potential consequences of his actions.

Gonser’s personal experience with gas lines

This recent action by our Supervisor is yet another example of his arrogant, authoritarian style.  Please click on the words “Supervisor Gonser” in the right portion of this webpage to scroll through and read the many previous posts regarding Supervisor Gonser’s actions.

If you find his behavior unacceptable or are concerned about he impact of the pipeline on our park land, please attend the December 9 Board meeting, and express your displeasure with his actions and decision.

 

Richard Michalski

Park’s Commission Treasurer Roger Schmidt violates his oath of office

At the February 25, 2013 Oakland Township Board meeting, Parks and Recreation Commission Treasurer Roger Schmidt complained about how he and the other newly elected commissioners were constantly being outvoted.  He went on to accuse the Parks Commission for using the Land Preservation Fund as a ‘slush fund’.  At the March 12 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, he tried to explain his ‘slush fund’ comments.  He concluded by saying:

“There are some things I’m sure that if the residents knew it was being used for they wouldn’t approve of that.”

Treasurer Schmidt never gave supporting facts for his accusations.

As the Treasurer of the Parks Commission, it is his responsibility, along with the other members of the Parks Commission, to make sure the funds are used properly.  By his admission that he believes the fund is not being used properly, and has never identified the “things” he infers, he has failed to follow his oath of office.  He had challenged the spending of $250 for the taxidermy of an owl from the land preservation fund, but he challenged it AFTER he had already approved it!  The use of fund money for that project had been explained and justified. His actions (or inactions if his allegations are true) are grounds for a recall.  His behavior has been a dereliction of duties.

Why would an elected official make these accusations without providing the facts to support them?   He and others have filed a complaint against other Commission members that Open Meeting Act violations may have occurred.  That issue surely will be sorted out in the legal system.  He accuses the other Commission members of ‘attacking our character’, again without providing factual examples.  His unsubstantiated accusations are outside the bounds of what Oakland Township citizens should find acceptable.

Here are videos of his comments from the two meetings mentioned above.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The Treasurer of an elected Board has the legal responsibility to challenge anything he/she finds inappropriate regarding expenditures.  To make accusatory comments, without the supporting facts, is inappropriate, and rapidly becoming the ‘new reality’ in Oakland Township.  Please get involved in making sure our elected officials perform their duties and not make false accusations.

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser accuses creators of this website of ‘cowardice’ while he refuses to admit HE made unauthorized request!

At the August 13th Board of Oakland Township meeting, several citizen made comments about this website.  Supervisor Gonser responded by saying that the creators of this website were cowards and should appear at the meetings ‘in person’.

One of the creators of the website WAS present for the beginning of the meeting.  He was not present when the Supervisor made his comments.

The author of this post was on vacation, and watched the entire meeting using the Township’s website.  For the record, and to the dismay of Supervisor Gonser, I have made many comments at Board meetings, challenging the Board on many issues.  He has cut me off at the 3 minute limit, while he has allowed others that share his views to continue for much longer.

So WE are cowards because we document the FACTS on Board issues and share them with citizens who do not have the time to watch all the meetings and “CONNECT THE DOTS” themselves?

Please watch the attached video from the August 13th meeting, where Trustee Keyes asked who authorized work for a parking lot on a park parcel, since the Parks and Recreation Commission had not made that request.  Supervisor Gonser sat silent for 20 seconds.  At the September 10th Board meeting, Superintendent Creech indicated that Supervisor Gonser did authorize that work.  Yet Supervisor Gonser sat silent for 20 seconds at the August meeting only to state at the end of the silence:

“We are probably not going to solve this in front of the the Television cameras tonight!

Supervisor Gonser did not speak up when he knew he authorized the work on the Park parcel!

He made accusations of cowardice when two of the creators of this website were not present!

SO WHO IS REALLY THE COWARD?

Someone once told me “If the truth hurts, it is because you do not like what it says!”  I will let the readers decide who is truthful and who is a coward.

If you are a concerned citizen of Oakland Township, I would encourage you to come to several of the Board of Oakland Township Meetings, and voice your opinion on matters.  The current Board has a small group of citizens that always participate supporting the Board’s point of view.  Diverse opinions are needed to protect Oakland Township’s future from being defined by this small group.

Richard Michalski

Here are the videos confirming the above statements.

Abuse of Power and a Misappropriation of funds?

At the August 13, 2013 Oakland Township Board meeting, Trustee Keyes asked who authorized the expenditures for the Marshview Connector Parking lot work.  She discovered that neither the Parks Commission nor the Trails and Safety Paths Committee asked for, or authorized, the clearing of brush and preliminary design work on this project.  However, someone had requested the work and directed that the cost for the work be shared between the Parks and Recreation Budget, the Trails and Safety Path Budget, and the General Fund.  

There are TWO issues with this situation:

  1. The first represents a potential abuse of power by either Supervisor Gonser or the Township’s administrative staff.  
  2. The second is a potential misappropriation of funds by the Township Board. 

The Parks and Recreation Budget is the responsibility of the Parks Commission.  The Township Board does approve the Park’s Commission budget, but it does not have authority to authorize work on Parkland, or spend money against the Parks Budget without the Parks and Recreation Commission’s approval.  

The questions raised by Trustee Keyes at the August 13 meeting went unanswered at that meeting, as well as the September 10th Board meeting until aggressive questioning resulted in Superintendent Creech stating that Supervisor Gonser approved both the clearing of the land and the allocation of expense to the Park’s Commission’s Budget.   The Board then proceeded to not only approved the questioned bills from the August meeting, but added several other bills pertaining to the same project by a 6 to 1 vote (Keyes voting nay).

At the September 11th Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the Commission agreed to pay for some of the expenses that were incurred on this project, but not the previous bills.

Many citizens indicated they do not understand the importance, or the significance, of this situation.  One citizen has stated that the Park’s Commission has “overplayed’ this issue.  However, the autocratic decisions made by Supervisor Gonser, or the Township administration at his request, represent an abuse of power, given that the Parks and Recreation Commission has autonomous authority.  The unauthorized allocation of costs for the unauthorized work to the Parks Commission Budget appear to be a misappropriation of funds.

Here is the background on this issue:

  • At the March 18th Oakland Township Board meeting, when the Parks Commission’s budget was being discussed, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he wanted the Parks Budget to be modified to include the addition of a parking lot at the Marshview Connector Park. He went on to say:

“I would like to see this accomplished this summer, so people are seeing progress.” (at 2:36:00 in the audio recording of the meeting)

  • Supervisor Gonser also stated, while reviewing the Parks Commission Budget:

We are setting the Budget!” (at 2:29:05 in the audio recording of the meeting)

  • The Parking lot project is not in the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 2010-2014 Master Plan.
  • At the April 10 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, during citizen comments, Trustee Thalmann introduced the request for adding a Parking lot on the Marshview Connector Park located on Orion Road, just South of E. Clarkston Road. She stated that Supervisor Gonser had a keen interest in this project.
  • At that meeting, a subcommittee was set up to participate with Trails and Safety Path Committee and Township Board members to review the request.
  • On May 13th the representatives from the Parks Commission,  Trails and Safety Paths Committee, and the Board met at the site to discuss the potential options for the site.
  • On May 20, an Engineering firm, that was getting direction from someone other than the Parks Commission, submitted a Proposal for the Marshview Connector Park to Mr. Creech, the Township Superintendent.
  • On May 22 the Engineering firm was asked by Mr. Creech to prepare a presentation for that evening’s Parks Commission meeting.  It was not on the agenda for that evening’s meeting.
  • At the Parks Commission meeting that evening, the Engineering firm apologized for the low level of information provided because of the late request for the presentation.
  • The Parks Commission was informed that Supervisor Gonser wanted the project to be completed this building season, and desired that the Parks Commission approve a Special Land Use request to the Planning Commission.
  • In a spirit of cooperation with the Township Board, the Parks Commission recommended that the Township Board approve a Special Land Use request, even though they did not have any significant information on the proposal and were not directing the project.
  • On June 4th, the Planning Commission accepted the Special land use plan for study.
  • On July 2nd, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the plan. There were a number of issues raised including slope and grade issues with the proposed pathway, as well as the overall location of the path and the parking lot on the parcel.
  • At that meeting, Treasurer Langlois said:

“The Township Board did not have the authority to instruct the Parks and Recreation Commission to undertake this project.”

  • At that meeting, concerns over the funding for the project were discussed, but it was determined that those issues were outside the Planning Commission’s responsibilities.
  • This topic was placed on the  August 7th Planning Commission agenda.
  • Prior to the August 7th meeting, but after the agenda was published, Parks Commissioner Chair Mackley requested that this topic be tabled since they had not requested it be placed on the agenda, and that they had not reviewed the information that was to be presented since they had only received it on August 2nd.
  • The Parks Commission did not have a meeting scheduled between August 2nd and August 7th to review the plan that had been developed.
  • After much discussion at the August 7th meeting, the Planning Commission tabled the topic.
  • At the August 13 Board meeting, Trustee Keyes identified expenses associated with the Proposed Parking lot project that were to be charged to the Parks and Recreation Budget, as well as the Trails and Safety Paths Millage Budget.  This work had not been requested or directed by either of those groups.  As a result, she asked who authorized the work.
  • When she asked who authorized the work, there was absolute silence from the Board members.
  • After 20 seconds of silence, Supervisor Gonser stated:

“We are probably not going to solve this in front of the the Television cameras tonight!”

  • At the September 10th Board meeting, Trustee Keyes indicated that she had not received ANY response to her request for information on who authorized the work and who authorized the appropriation of the expenses to the various accounts.  Clerk Reilly had not responded to her written request.
  • At the September 10th Board meeting, Superintendent Creech commented on who authorized the work and who authorized the allocation of expenses.
  • At the same meeting, the Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission as well as the Parks and Recreation Director commented on how this project has been handled.
  • At the September 11 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, the Commission agreed to pay for  $1,059.51 of the expenses incurred on this project, but not the previous bills that were under dispute.
  • Parks Commissioner Barkham indicated that there should not be any  further expenditures on this project without concurrence from the Board, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Trails and Safety Path Committee.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The division of responsibilities between the Township Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission are clearly defined. Having the Supervisor make decisions on park land for one of his “pet projects” exceeds the authority that the Supervisor or the Board have over the Parks and Recreation Commission.  The booking of the expenses for the work done at the Supervisor’s request against the Park’s Budget is a misappropriation of funds.

Do you think that Supervisor Gonser knew who authorized the site plan and the work that had been done on the site since the project was moving forward at his request?

Do you think Supervisor Gonser was silent for 20 seconds when asked who authorized the plan was because he was reluctant to admit that he authorized it with the video camera running?

Do you think Clerk Reilly should have responded to Trustee Keyes’ August 13th verbal request and her follow-up email requests?

Do you think Supervisor Gonser played a role in Clerk Reilly’s lack of response to Trustee Keyes request?

Is this the type of leadership you want in our Township?

Richard Michalski