Meeting Highlights include

  • Great N News was announced in Supervisor Chockley's report.  A residential property developer is actively investigating siting 160 homes inside the Whitmore Lake School District.  The 80 acre development conforms to the Township Master Plan guidelines and gains the open space advantages and options put in place by previous Planners and Planning Commissions.  As reported by Chockley and subsequently by the township Planner at the February 15th, 2017 Planning Commission meeting, the developer saw sewage capacity as his principle hurdle.  Chockley organized meetings between the developer, the Township Planner, and Tetra Tech to investigate the developer's needs.  That's the way it's supposed to be done.   Kudos, Madame Supervisor.
  • At this meeting we found out that there was no Fund Balance Policy with teeth.  There were only empty words,  For months I've been telling people that the Board had never revised its 85% Rainy Day fund balance Policy, despite having spent large amounts of cash on the Van Curler purchase and other capital expenses.  I was assured that the policy had been revised.  If it had been, it must have been in closed door session, I objected, because it had never been revised in public.  Turns out I was correct.  Big surprise.  At this February 14th meeting we were told that the Rainy Day Fund balance is down to about 62%.  It was also admitted that the Policy had never been revised.  It still sits at 85 meaningless percentage points, an empty promise. 
  • Township Attorney Burns confirmed for the Board that their policy was not legally enforceable; it really is just words.  That's something to remember when you hear Boards and Managers tell you that your interests are protected by "policy." 
  • Long time Board observers remember that "Policy" was the former Manager's favorite word.  He used it like a weapon.  He wrapped up what he wanted as "Policy" like it had been handed down to Moses on stone tablets.  But the former Board allowed Fink to treat Policy like it was written on toilet paper.  It's hard to forget his use of the word in explaining away any possible extension of the Whitmore Lake Road sewer project.  "I'm an Honest Man," he said.   The Manager's words served no end but his convenience and the ends of those who controlled the Manager.  The former Board allowed him to get away with it.  This is something to bear in mind when Trustees Otto and Chick tell us that their management of the next Manager will be different.
  • Trustee Dockett, the only member of the former Board to publicly hold Fink's feet to any fire, underlined at this meeting that the word, "policy," was left meaningless by the previous board.  I emphasize the word, publicly.  Otto and Chick have said that they resisted Fink in private, behind closed doors.  What's interesting about these assertions it the tacit admission that Fink, if he was controlled by the Board, was controlled in secret, a novel definition of transparency.
  • In a lighter vein, Township Trustee Tawn Belliger was publicly accused of social media trolling and public disrespect by Jeni Olney, a member of the Downtown Planning Group.  She said Belliger repeatedly attacked her political beliefs using a pseudonym.  We hope to obtain text of the exchanges for a later report.  Olney didn't use the loaded word, "stalking."
  • Trustee Otto schooled the Board and this stunned observer on the affects of confirmation bias and the utility of ignoring cognitive dissonance by reading aloud a letter from an absent Trustee Belliger.  Belliger advocated hiring a replacement manager.  Belliger has previously expressed a good reason for hiring a Manager short term, which is this: The Former Board so badly managed the former Manager that he left a mess that has to be cleaned up and fixed.  In this letter, however, Belliger attempts to prove the hypothesis that the reason the previous Township Board officials were evicted from office was so that the Township would continue to be run in exactly the same fashion.  Otto's been pitching similar nonsense so she read it earnestly.
  • Attorney Paul Burns schooled the Board, and Trustee Jackie Otto in particular, on the meanings of statutory duties and the way Townships run in Michigan.  Watchers of previous meetings may have noticed Otto trying to harangue the new Board into a hasty hiring of a replacement Howard Fink, citing statutory duties and evoking scary images of vast unspecified conflicts of interest.  In other words, handwaving.
  • The meeting ended with more disingenuous posturing by Trustee Jackie Otto as well as a bizarrely self defeating admission that she hadn't wanted a Manager until our new Supervisor attempted to pick up and do and and ask to be paid for doing his vaguely delineated job.  Otto slandered resistance to hiring a Manager by dismissing it as misled.  It was people with "an Agenda," she said.  That's the same Grade A Bull we used to get from Fink, loaded language that the former Board allowed Fink to use. 
  • With Otto's words, political awareness and involvement is smeared.  The irony is what we're seeing recreated is precisely the same toxic atmosphere that is so loudly decried in Washington DC..   Vicious and deliberate attempts to marginalize anyone who disagrees with authority and arrogance.
  • Chockley pointed out that she was saving the Township approximately $2000 per week by doing so much work in the Township Offices, doing the everyday work of running a Township as it's done in almost every Township in Michigan, as well as picking up the mess left behind by the former Manager.  She publicly called Otto's ugly and crudely framed insinuation[my words], "loaded words."[Chockley's words]  Otto responded by saying no one had to volunteer to do anything, that none of that would have been necessary had the board acceded to Otto's demands that a replacement manager be hired immediately.  Otto didn't explain how that instantaneous hiring could have been made to occur.  Otto's assertion crossed the line into insulting, given her role in allowing the previous Board's mismanagement of the Manager. 

 The Citizen speakers were the best part:  Margaret Ridell said Fink wasn't very honest.  David Perry shared a very cogent observation: that the Manager takes on a defacto role as a super-Trustee, who works more for some Trustees than others if allowed to by a complicit or complacent Township Board.   This is not news.  The principle reason for installing the Manager originally was so that certain Township Citizens could bypass the elected officials.  In other words, those with the Manager's ear became super-Citizens.  You could see evidence of this in the emails to and from Fink obtained in our 2014 FOIA requests. 

It worked until they got caught.  But what really saved Northfield Township from their manipulations was the laziness and ineptitude of the manipulators.  They were so busy scheming and dreaming and talking poppycock about 'leadership' that they didn't do any of the hard work, most critically, lining up sewer capacity to handle their fretfully dreamed of lawns and suburbs. 

Trustees Otto and Chick tell us that they'll manage a new manager better than they managed Fink.

How well did they manage Fink?  Look at the previous meeting packets.  The Organization Chart submitted in the meeting packet was generic, a product of the Michigan Township Association.   Fink never bothered to make one for Northfield Township. The Board doesn't even have a workable job description.  Otto has been campaigning to work one up after making the hiring decision.  Classic Cart before the Horse.  The new Township Officials are still picking up the pieces of Fink's floundering.  Otto continues to try to spin away objections to Fink's little dictatorship, hand-waving away the problem as "personality."

That's almost as disgusting as Fink's renaming the Agenda Item that used to be called "Boardmember Comments" as "Board Clarification."  Framing Board member verbiage as implicitly more truthful than the publicly voiced perceptions of Township Citizens is a standard propaganda technique.   Fink loved crowing about his transparency.  Fortunately for Northfield Township citizens, he was more transparent than he thought.  Citizens saw right through him.

2-14-2017 Northfield Township Board of Trustees meeting LiveAgenda

2-14-2017 Northfield Township Board of Trustees meeting packet  (14MB)

2-14-2017 Northfield Township Board of Trustees meeting paper Agenda