Sunday, October 23, 2011

Twp. Attorney Needs to Explain Township Laws and Rules

Hi All,
I find it ironic that the necessary topic of this blog:  "Township Attorney needs to Explain Township Laws and Rules",  comes at the same time that the long time Township attorney, Bill Hampton, is on the Monday, October 24 agenda with the following resolution (in part):

WHEREAS, William (Bill) Hampton has been named Detroit Municipal Law “Lawyer of the Year” for 2012; and
WHEREAS, Bill received this recognition from Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession; and
WHEREAS, the 18th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2012) is based on more than 3.9 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers; and.......

........NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees proudly recognizes this outstanding accomplishment by Bill and extends its sincere congratulations.

I'm sure there are many outstanding accomplishments and congratulations for Mr. Hampton, but today I need to know more about the laws and rules of government...and if they are being adhered to at Bloomfield Township.

When should the Township attorney speak up at a meeting and clarify a legal issue?
When should the Township attorney advise the Board that they should make a decision on an issue?
Why do I feel that something important is missing in Township government?
What is missing?  
Compliance with all the laws and rules...
and sometimes just making the right decisions for the citizens of the Township.....
my opinion.
Some examples:
  • Why were the "appointments" to the various citizen boards never posted before now? Should the attorney advise that vacancies need to be posted ...for all job openings...even the ones given to employees' children?  How many "related"  people work in the Township? How did relatives get the jobs? A friends and family place to work? What about the "advisory board" at the Senior Services department? Who, where and when did those people get "appointed'? All questions would make an interesting FOIA subject.
  • Has the attorney ever advised the Board that an employee can't be a member of the ZBA and the Planning Commission?   How do the elected officials learn what is and is not permitted by law? Shouldn't the elected officials know the Township laws...did they?...but failed to act?  Action was taken after some of my writings on the employee/ Board membership problem. An employee resigned after learning of the law. 
  • Then, is it the attorney's responsibility to encourage/demand that the Board also address the issue of whether or not Mr. Robert Taylor, currently on the ZBA and also an employee of the Township resign?  The attorney was present at a meeting discussing this exact issue of Mr. Taylor.  Why ask one part time employee to resign, but not another?  Shouldn't Mr. Taylor also resign? What is the legal answer?
  • Township law states that there are several mandated functions. One is: assessment administration is the mandated responsibility of the Supervisor.  Yet our new Supervisor, Leo Savoie, who is a qualified assessor, announced at a meeting that he would do no assessments at the Township to avoid a "conflict of interest".  However, isn't that his mandated responsibility?  Where is the attorney in explaining this to the citizens and/or to the Board?   Parts of the mandated jobs of the Supervisor, Treasurer and Clerk...are being assigned to other employees while those same elected officials take on other responsibilities not necessarily required.
  • Township laws also seemed to assign Planning Commission responsibilities and ZBA responsibilities to appointed groups of citizens, with one Board member sitting on each committee.  I did not read in the Township law that there should be a Design Review Board made up of the three top elected employees: Supervisor, Treasurer and Clerk with elected Trustees as alternates making decisions and making recommendations to the ZBA and Planning Commission on certain issues.  Where is the attorney opinion on this Design Review Board, that was created by ordinance by the Township employees?  Can/should this Board be eliminated?  I think yes. Those three elected officials have mandated responsibilities that need their attention.
  • from :                                                                                   "There are, however, significant differences that are important
    to the people charged with administering township affairs and
    deciding township policies. Townships and counties are statutory
    units of government, having only those powers expressly provided
    or fairly implied by state law
    . Cities and most villages are vested
    with home rule powers, meaning they can do almost anything not
    prohibited by law."
  • Where is the attorney opinion when the Board of Trustees vote to give money to non-profits, which, by the way,  the Township Board members are given positions as board members on those non-profit boards?  Shouldn't  the township attorney say something about conflict of interest? It is interesting to note that it seems that the "appointees" to Township positions are often people who are members of those same non-profits that get Township taxpayer money.  What if I don't want my tax dollars going to the non-profits that the Township Board chooses?
  • What happens when the Township is involved in an issue with the City of Bloomfield Hills where Mr. Hampton is also their counsel?  I feel the Township may not have gotten the best deal on an issue with the City and the  Bloomfield Hills School district concerning the "farm" land and a potential required purchase of that land by the Township.  IF and when the school district wants to sell a certain portion of the "farm", the Township shall have 30 days to pay cash....price to be determined....and must allow the existing non-profit buildings and school to remain.  The Township taxpayers will get to call this newly purchased special 5-6  farm acreage ... a "park". 
  • Why did the Township join other communities in a Comcast lawsuit?  Was that a wise decision for the Township citizens?  How did the Township taxpayers benefit?  How much did that cost in attorney fees?
  • Can a Township legally use its employees as "independent contractors" for other municipalities for a "fee", but make the taxpayers of the Township responsible for the pensions and other costs? Can the Township leaders send vehicles and other items that Township taxpayers bought for use in the another community for them to use?
  • Why do Township minutes of a Public Hearing not state what the public speaker said? Isn't that required by law for public hearings?  Should the attorney advise the Board that those public comments be written? Also, can't regular minutes reflect the basic comment or intent of the speaker?  The answer is yes...but the minutes as written by the Township apparently are legal...but not done "right" for the best interests of the Township citizens.
  • I can go on.... but I am not an attorney....nor have I  had any training in legal matters.  I sit at meetings and wonder why issues proceed in the way they do....and whether or not someone should speak up and correct or clarify what is being done.  I can only speak at certain times, otherwise  I'd be ruled out of order.
  • I am asking here....I want answers....the legal ones. 
 Monday night, October 24 at 7 pm.....agenda item number 6 with the Design Review Board that was created by ordinance...not Township law.
The Township cancels the Planning Commission meetings for "lack of agenda items"   but gives items to the Design Review Board....which, in my opinion, those agenda items should be the responsibility of the Planning Commission.

I would like to hear from the Township attorney on this issue.  I have repeatedly questioned the purpose..the membership...and the legality of this Design Review Board.

Meanwhile:  in the Board of Trustees board packet for agenda #6:
.....a note from Leo Savoie calls for the appointment of another alternate member for the Design Review Board.  Regular members are Savoie, Roncelli, Devine.  Neal Barnett ( a Trustee ) serves as an Alternate Member.  Mr. Savoie wrote in his note that: "Trustee Corinne Khederian has expressed an interest in this Alternate Member position. I am confident Corinne will be committed to preserving and protecting the character of our community and will bring her individual perspective to the Board."

Check out this resolution to be voted on Monday night:

BE IT RESOLVED to appoint to the Design Review Board the following person without an expiration term :   Corinne Khederian
  • expiration date for the term...?
  • Has anyone else in the Township expressed interest or even been permitted to express interest in being on the Design Review Board?  No?  Oh, Right. This Board, that makes decisions, is only for elected employees (that is given information from hired employees....according to the ordinance the employees wrote)?  This Board meets at 2 pm, when many from the public can not attend because they are working; there is no microphone for the public to hear the agenda items and discussions; and no attempt is made by the Township to project the project plans, etc., on a large screen to view.
  • Who would decide?, when would someone decide?, why would someone decide?.....that Ms. Khederian would, at some point, no longer be a member of this Board? I guess you just have to be voted out of your elected office? Maybe?  You would still be a citizen of the Township?  Does that count?
Is the Township following all the laws and rules and best practices?  Just asking.
  • Did I tell you that all 7 Board members are running again in Nov. 2012?
  • Are there any people willing to challenge the current Board for any of those 7 positions?  
  • May 2012 dates are the deadlines to get your name in the required August 2012 primary.
  • Is it time to revisit the contract with the Township attorney, too?  Just asking.

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