Meeting notes: [expanded]

This meeting began with a bang.  P.C. Secretary Stanalajczo decided that his sparse and uninformative minutes for the previous meeting should be the new standard.  He informed Recording Secretary Lemble of this in an email.  He said this was according to the P.C. bylaws but as was revealed later, he had no authority to demand any such change.

The story continues beneath the Read-More fold...

The back story: Recording Secretary Lisa Lemble could not attend the July 15th P.C. meeting so the minutes were composed by Stanalajzco.    Because Stanalajczo's minutes were so minimal in content, Chairperson Chockley suggested the possibility of having them revised by Lemble.  Commissioner Ken Dignan insisted that the meeting minutes must be approved in the current session.   Dignan invoked "case law" something or other to make his insistence officious. 

What do I mean by minimal?  Your public comments have vanished.  Board discussions have vanished.  Even Commissioner comments have vanished.   In short, the citizen's voice has been deleted.  Context that helps you understand decisions has been deleted.

Responding to this demand, Commissioner Cousino observed that we are living in the 21st century.  What's on video and on the internet can't be unseen or wished away by bureaucratic or legalistic pretenses that the minutes constitute the only record of events.  Commissioner Roman was unhappy that emails were being sent in the Planning Commission's name by a single Commissioner (Stanalajczo) without the consent of the other Commissioners.  Long time watchers of the P.C. may remember Stanalajczo attacking and accusing Chairperson Chockley of doing the same thing.  In Chockley's case,  Chockley was responding to Citizen questions, not unilaterally setting policy.

Manager Fink invoked the spectre of "legal issues" if details of discussions surrounding certain decisions became part of the "official record."  He mentioned a Board discussion of this issue that transpired soon after Fink came on board.  Those who watch Township Meetings remember that as being when Fink lobbied the Board to stop broadcasting or even audio-tape recording board workshop meetings.  The Board disagreed. 

[My opinion] What you're seeing here are a couple of people stifling discussion and innovation with old fashioned bureaucratic b/s..  The main instigator wasn't even in the room.  Some of the players describe themselves as small government conservatives - yet here they are enlarging their authority by using it to muzzle the citizen voice.  They make a mockery of government transparency.


 On Youtube: the discussion of the meeting minutes (Re-Uploaded to YouTube)


Tonight's main event was a defense of Cobalt's survey by Cobalt principal William St. Amour.

The P.C. asked St. Amour to explain his side.  Someone must have forewarned him about the Board's low opinion of its work.  St. Amour clung to his microphone with both hands like a supplicant. 

It is clear that St. Amour was asked to absolve Manager Howard Fink of any responsibility.  He leaned hard on that point.

St. Amour seems to have believed the Board of trustees was leading this effort.  Why he believed this becomes evident when he reveals that he and his subcontractor, Sharlan Douglas, were forced to watch town meetings in an attempt to figure out what the Township Boards wanted.  He said the Board didn't clarify and focus the list of objectives and said so, in a statement about 2-1/2 minutes from the start of the discussion.  I'll save you some time; this link points to the very second he said it. 

Later in the discussion St. Amour admits believing Biltmore was the main reason this survey was proposed.

St. Amour and Douglas read the 1996 and 2010 surveys.  St. Amour said they were good surveys, with a lot of thoughtful questions.  Trustee Chick explained the lengthy community-involved process which fed the construction of the 2010 survey.

Several times St. Amour gave the P.C. an out, as in "if you decide to keep working with Cobalt."   The P.C. didn't bite.  I don't know if they could. Since the P.C. did not have the authority to hire Cobalt - that was done by the Board - it may be that the P.C. can't fire Cobalt either.

So in the end nothing was resolved.  Cobalt wasn't fired.  St. Amour was sent back to his Lansing office to guess again at what the Boards really want.   He knows one thing that he didn't know before, though.  The P.C. can't fire him and the Township Board won't.


 On Youtube: the discussion of the Cobalt Survey and Questionnaire


August 5th, 2015 P.C. Documents:

Click to watch the Meeting on Livestream

Click here to view or download Meeting Agenda

Click here to view or download Meeting Packet

  • Click here to view or download the Meeting Minutes (draft - as extracted from 8-19 packet)
  • Click here to view or download the Meeting Minutes (final) published on township website


"The Urban Institute of Washington, DC, has concluded that surveys of citizens are 'possibly the most, if not the only, efficient way to obtain information on ... citizens' opinions on various community issues. Such information can be very useful for local governments in setting priorities for resource allocation and the determination of actions to improve existing programs.' The feedback provided by such surveys is more reliable, balanced, and comprehensive than that obtained through informal discussions, personal contacts, public hearings, or—often—even official ballot referenda."


- Dr. Gregory Markus, conductor of the 1996 Township Survey