Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Like a root canal with no anesthetic

Though I have attended a few, I do not usually go to township board meetings. I do not watch them on TV. I do not read the minutes of meetings. I do not need to because others call or email me about what is going on. And then there is the newspaper coverage.

I receive an email whenever there is a meeting and I usually do review the agenda.  The agenda for this last meeting showed that the Police Chief would be giving an update on his 'investigation' of Trustee Brown.  That was the subject of a headline in the Oakland Press a few weeks back.  There was also the issue of the FOIA coordinator which was written about in the newspaper that morning.  Then there were the phone calls from folks wondering if I was going.  Well, no.  I would watch on TV.

So, I was outside cutting my lawn and it was 6:57 when I turned on the TV.  There was a discussion about going into closed session.  The first motion failed.  The second motion passed.  Off they went and I hit 'mute' and continued reading my book.  They're back.  Another discussion.  Another vote.  And off they go to another closed session which sounds to us who didn't have all the facts in front of us that they just did that.  The audience was laughing.  So was I .  'Been there, done that.'

Back again to discuss an offer of retirement from the Police Chief.  Well, as I recall, you decide to retire, you turn in your letter, and you are gone.  What settlement or negotiation are we talking about?  Why is the township attorney required to negotiate with the Chief's attorney?  We are paying our attorney with my tax dollars to work out a retirement?  We have qualifications for retiring.  No answer from what I could see.

Then a slight diversion from the agenda while the Supervisor asked who was there with a camera.  Turned out to be someone from the Oakland Press.  Note:  She did not look happy.

Public comment:  Clue - No one cares how long you have lived in the township.  It does not make you more important than the 'newbie'. 

Then we had someone who voiced his opinion that you cannot sue the township and be on the board.  Well, the former clerk sued the township and we never asked her to resign.  I threatened to sue a trustee for comments made about me at a meeting, but that trustee had enough sense to back off.  And since when is public comment a time for the board to discuss issues not on the agenda? I.E. Access by trustees to accounting information.  Can the Supervisor not call trustees and ask questions?  Obviously not.  Talk about dysfunctional.  Perhaps next time the trustees will have to put in a FOIA request for info as I once did in the past under a different Supervisor.

Back to discussion of the lawsuit.  The attorney didn't know about it, but the guy from public comment said his subdivision knew.  Good for Trustee Rosenberg for finally pointing out that they were 'out of order' under Public Comment. 

Township cars.  I thought this was settled.  Obviously not.  Seems our old board had agreed that certain officers needed to be protected from the public knowing where they live.  But first we have another interruption on whether or not Trustee Brown should vote.  Seems like this Supervisor has tried everything to get Mr. Brown off the Board.  Attorney:  Mr. Brown has a statutory duty to vote.

Before we can finish we have an attack on the Clerk.  I don't know what is going on, so I can't give you any information.  Does the Clerk have a township car?  Clerk:  No.  Supervisor: Yes.   Me:  Huh?

Then it was time to discuss the investigation of Trustee Brown.  The Chief reads a letter basically saying he found nothing wrong or criminal regarding the trustee.  Neither did the Oakland County Prosecutor.  There is a letter from the Attorney General, but that is not read into the record.  It essentially accepts the decision of the Prosecutor.

Now apparently, the Police Department has the lawsuit, but the township attorney does not know about it.  Trustee Kaplan is busy letting the public know that the lawsuit and any settlement will be paid by the taxpayer.  Oh, surprise.  The Clerk indicates that the Police were served on May 27, but the lawsuit was not given to the Clerk until June 4.

So now we have an eloquent speech by Trustee Brown.  Good for him.  It is long overdue.  I keep hearing the Supervisor say she is doing an 'internal audit'.  What is she 'internally' auditing?  Trustee Brown has a business that does not involve the township.  When I was Treasurer, I did employ Mr. Brown's credit card processing company to handle charges for the Parks and Recreation Department.  But no one is forced to use a credit card for payment, so there is nothing criminal in his being on the board and having his company, or one owned by a business partner, providing a service to the township or an outside company.

Clue to the Supervisor:  Apologize for going to the press.  Admit that you made a mistake.  No one cares what you did at your previous job.  We only care what you are doing at the job you were elected to do, now.  Also, almost EVERYTHING is available under FOIA.  If you don't like it, get out of government.

Until the Supervisor went to the press, I never heard anyone asking what was going on.  At the meeting I attended, Mr. Brown stated that the township attorney told him there was no conflict.  So, why did there need to be an audit?  Can you spell P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S?

So, two hours into the meeting, we finally get to the consent agenda.  Another hour later a young Eagle Scout candidate is introduced.  Poor kid sat there through all that.  Hope he doesn't think all governments are run this way.

FOIA.  Again.  What I see - the Supervisor wants control.  The Supervisor does not like being supervised, i.e. someone asking questions about what she is doing.  Trustee Kaplan is right there to jump up and support her.  Yes, there were times when the former Clerk received a FOIA request regarding my expenses.  They were all answered.  Sometimes I didn't even know about them.  So what?  EVERYTHING I created as a document or spent from my budget is subject to FOIA.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM NOW?

Now, if the Supervisor has nothing to hide, why is she asking to have a change? Clue: We do not care about your decorating or note pads.

I regret supporting some of these people for election.  Unfortunately, they were better 'at the time' than the alternatives.   I hope people are watching.  If you wish to watch for yourself, the video is available for 30 days.

As I said, it was like a root canal without anesthetic.  Just shoot me now.

P.S.  All my shouting at the screen was no help at all.  Good thing I stayed home.  I might have exploded if I was there and had to keep my mouth shut.

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