We just had the shortest meeting in London Township that I think we've ever had. Or should I say non-meeting since we do not have a quorum of the board to have a meeting.
To refresh your memories, our clerk and treasurer did not take their Oath by January 1, so they had to be appointed by February 15. That didn't happen so an election had to be called. Last month, a month before the election, the board appointed them back as clerk and treasurer with full voting rights. The County, the State and the MTA feel this is improper and possibly downright unlawful.
Tonight the board opened the meeting with the pledge of allegiance, added a few items to the agenda and proceeded to the 'citizen's time'. That's when what they consider a problem arose.
I read the following speech:
“Last month, Mr. Zieske asked the audience why the board should not take the action of reinstating Mr. Irby and Mr. Stoll as clerk and treasurer. We citizens do not usually carry a law library to meetings nor do we usually carry our computers. Contact information was offered to the board to get the right answers. I stated that the Board should contact Brad Wittman with the State Bureau of Elections. Mr Eaddy said to me, quote "No, you know what, you call Brad Wittman and you bring us the piece of paper.” Well, I and others did just that and here’s the piece of paper.
Should I read the answer or have you all read it?
Have you called the county to ask them to appoint a temporary supervisor to make a quorum as MCL 168.370 says is the proper thing to do? It should have been the Trustees responsibility to do that.
The county, the state and the MTA say the appointing of Mr. Irby and Mr. Stoll to their previous position with voting rights is not proper. To continue as a board with a quorum at this point is not proper and could possibly make you guilty of “vicarious liability” because you have been sent copies of the state letter as well as the MTA letter both by regular mail and email. That makes you knowledgeable that you could very possibly be breaking the law. Not only will this make it where the ‘Errors and Omissions’ insurance that the township carries not cover your actions but most likely make you personally liable for your purposeful actions. And you could be subject to a jail term also.
Some members of the board have accused certain citizens of wanting to purposely interfere with the township business getting done. No, we do not want to interfere or stop the business. We want it done properly and lawfully. We’re not asking you to do anything that we aren’t expected to do day in and day out –do the right thing.”
Mr. Irby said they had copies of Mr. Wittman's letter. Mr. Stoll said to read the last line. I read:
“Thank you for writing. Please do not hesitate to contact this office if you have any questions.”
Of course, that isn't what he was talking about but I follow orders real well
Stoll said, next line up. I read:
“As it is clearly their view -- and the view of the other individuals who currently serve on the London Township Board -- that they retain the right to serve as Board members pending the upcoming August 7 election to fill the Clerk and Treasurer positions, the involvement of the courts would be the most effective and assured way to conclusively settle this matter. “
I said we had been advised to contact a political lawyer.
Zieske read an article from the MTA newsletter that said:
“Township board members must take the Oath of Office before January 1. Any person elected in November to fill a township board vacancy must take the office before assuming the office. Because it’s a midterm election, the oath can be taken as soon as the election is certified. And the new officers do not have to wait until November 20 to do so.
If they fail to take the oath of office by January 1, the position is vacant as of January 1 and the board must appoint to fill the vacancy. The board may choose to appoint the persons that were elected but failed to take their oath of office in time. The person appoint fills the rest of the term.
So this contradicts what you say.”
Duuuh, no LeRoy, it does not contradict. It is exactly what we said but he didn’t follow it to the end. The rest of the laws says: if the township board does not make an appointment under subsection (3), or if a vacancy occurs in an elective township office and the vacancy is not filled by the township board or the board of county election commissioners within 45 days after the beginning of the vacancy, the county clerk of the county in which the township is located shall call a special election within 5 calendar days to fill the vacancy.
That has happened and those offices are vacant at this time.
Irby said: “I believe it said that you have the right to seek legal action in the courts, right. Then that’s what our position is going to be at this time.”
Uhoh, did the board make a decision without it being during a meeting. Hmm, that smacks of a closed door meeting.
I read the last paragraph about it not being proper to have the meeting. Trustee Zieske said “Well, if you feel that’s proper, I guess the meeting is over with.”
There was about 30 seconds of stunned silence when Trustee Eaddy said “ You know what, LeRoy, I agree with ya. I tell you what, we won’t have a meeting until we find out exactly what’s going on. If that's what you guys want, no bills get paid, nothing will happened until we find out exactly what’s going on, even if we have to go in front of a judge. Meeting is adjourned as far as I’m concerned. I that makes you happy.
I tell you right now. I don’t believe a thing you’ve been saying, Aretta, cause I’ve been reading also. Just last month’s issue of the MTA, when there is a person that the board failed to appoint anybody within that amount of time and these offices are vacated. What happens that person becomes a holdover until a person is appointed.”
I said then why did the State, the county and the MTA. He interrupted with:
“This what you want. You do not want the township to function. You can take yourself home now. I don’t even want to talk to you.”
He went back in the back and then came out and “We gotta lock this place up. Will everyone go outside and talk.”
So that’s what happened in London Township tonight.