Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Does it Stop???

The following guest opinion of mine appeared in today's Oakland Press.  Since I have received comments that it is 'right on', I thought I would reprint it here.  You may or may not agree. It summarizes some of my previous comments on this blog: 

A recent guest opinion in this paper had the West Bloomfield Township Supervisor and her faithful companion saying 'We are not conflict-oriented..' Really?

Let me begin with the appointment of the Police Chief in the Fall of 2010. The state law clearly says that the Board MAY authorize the supervisor to appoint a police chief, NOT that the supervisor shall appoint. Yet, these same two officials decided to sue the other Township Board members, who were acting in their official capacity as Trustees, for making the appointment. An Oakland County judge ultimately agreed that trustees did not violate any statutes in nominating and appointing a Police Chief, which, by the way, is in accord with our own Township ordinances.

Despite this ruling, the Supervisor has managed to misstate the decision of the Circuit Court at Township meetings. In addition, letters have been written to this paper telling us what a great thing she did in suing and how she was right.

She has stated that her duties cannot be taken away, but MCL 42.10 states, in part: The township board in each charter township shall have power to appoint a township superintendent and may delegate to him any or all of the following functions and duties which functions and duties, unless so delegated, shall be exercised by the supervisor:... What, pray tell, is her interpretation of that statute? To date, the Township has a Department Head or other employee performing every duty of a Supervisor.

More recently, they had a debate on the hiring of a Finance Director who would report to the Township Clerk. MCL Section 41.65 states: The township clerk shall be responsible for the detailed accounting records of the township utilizing the uniform chart of accounts prescribed by the state treasurer. The township clerk shall prepare and maintain the journals and ledgers necessary to reflect the assets, liabilities, fund equities, revenues, and expenditures for each fund of the township. 
This has never been a statutory duty of the Supervisor. Only the budget falls under her purview.

A more recent letter to the editor followed a guest opinion by the Supervisor regarding press releases. The writer was praising the Supervisor and stated that the Clerk may be in violation of the Hatch Act of 1939 for sending out press releases. The Act is a Federal Law whose main provision is to prohibit Federal civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity. The Hatch Act also applies by extension to certain employees of state and local governments whose positions are primarily paid for by federal funds.

The operative word here is 'Federal'. Since when is the Clerk's salary, or her Deputy's, paid for with Federal dollars? The only Federal dollars I am aware of are those grants received for Homeland Security after 9/11. Anyway, how is sending out a press release telling residents how much a lawsuit is costing us a partisan political activity?

When both myself and former Trustee Spector spoke at a meeting last year, the Supervisor stated she was not interested in hearing the opinions of former elected officials. That tells me a lot about her regard for taxpayers in West Bloomfield. Criticizing the township attorney in public, arguing with Board members, misstating Court decisions, monopolizing 'Public Comment' to give speeches on her merits, implying that prior boards did not follow the law, authoring and encouraging letters with incorrect statements... When does it stop?

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