To the editor:
This letter was sent to the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees by John Delaney prior to Tuesday’s meeting to consider what to do about Trustee Sherry Frazier. He said he will attempt to read it at the meeting. Editor.
Greetings VBT Board of Trustees and Residents:
I would like to take this time to preface and share my thoughts, opinions and facts before you begin this Kangaroo Court, wanna-be, fake attempt to censor one of your own, based on improper, misleading, misinterpreted, misdirected and misinformed criteria all contributed by four members of this board NOT to include Mr. Kevin Martin. (Because out of all of you, he’s the only one here that deserves to represent this township at this time!) I have reviewed, researched, and pondered this matter thoroughly as a township resident with every single piece of evidence, exhibits, statements, and township policy directives and have formed a factual basis based on the above mentioned criteria.
The first action you need to take is to immediately fire our House Counsel Patrick McCauley and any and all of his associates based on his continued malfeasance and misdirecting of this township for over 15 years, maybe 20! The incompetence of McCauley on not properly directing previous administrations and elected officials here in VBT cannot continue. I’ll unpack a few facts now.
In the tenure of McCauley and his associates at VBT they have allowed a continued sense of misdirecting and the misinforming of our officials leading them down an empty path of no return. For all the years McCauley has represented VBT, at no time has he opined or even corrected the Policies and Procedures Manual that would finally separate elected officials from township employees. (They are not the same.) This thought and procedural theory has been brought up and challenged numerous times throughout the last 20 or so years in this township, which McCauley has allowed a gray area to exist so he can litigate both sides of the argument to attain a sizable list of billable hours for himself and his cadre, to the peril of this township.
During the 2010 failed recall attempt, McCauley gave two separate and deviating published and implemented opinions, to two opposite factions of our township board, (the leftover “King Team” and the newly seated “White Team”) over a Correspondence Policy that was actually adjudicated over a criminal case involving the township. McCauley has left this township in limbo numerous times, which has allowed very large sums of money in legal settlements paid to individuals and companies that sued our township in civil cases. Although VBT is insured by Michigan Municipal Risk Management Association (MMRMA) fund for lawsuits, there is definitely a limit, that limit is $5 million, anything above that the township pays.
I have brought this subject numerous times to the previous 2 Township Supervisors and the current one. I possess facts that include video from past board meetings, court documents and Registrar of Actions that detail this subject. I also have media reports, video and past personal records, also to prove my statements of facts.
Moving on —
I first will state that depending on the final action you take at this board meeting tonight you will be most likely be exposing this township to probably the largest lawsuit it’s had in the history of this township, which probably wouldn’t be covered by our insurance rider or the MMRMA.
In reviewing all the documents and exhibits provided by the township supervisor, they prove without a shadow of doubt that the misguided efforts that you are about to imply, express and impose, will expose most of you to libel which will increase the value of a foreseen lawsuit for the alleged accused trustee. All of your allegations of violations of VBT’s Ethics Policy and or Policy and Procedure’s Manual are void of true facts, have no standing and are misleading because of the following:
#1. VBT does not possess or has ever had a legal document of any type properly written, expressed, or implied to bind an Elected Official responsible for his or her actions, with consequences to their respective seat on the Board of Trustees with any legal weight or jeopardy.
#2. The allegations or complaints with questionable opinions detailed in the Supervisor’s Report are just that, questionable! What some of the members are basing the commencement of their actions are based on a poorly drafted, written, and adopted document that specifically represents only At-Will Employees of VBT to include some appointed officials in our local government, but not all.
#3. Appendix B of the VBT Ethics Policy Resolution 2003-45 authored by then VBT Clerk Joannie Payne and Trustee Phil Hart, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on for litigating purposes, and was only created to bolster and facilitate an idea, that VBT had some pretty smart people on it’s board at the time. NOT! To which they proved after you read their Resolution with the mindset that it was to set rules for elected officials. On a legal point, the afore-mentioned Resolution completely excludes any real form of penalty or consequence for an elected official at VBT. What has happened in this case against Trustee Frazier, is that someone (You know who they are ) took the liberty to “cut and paste” some dialog from VBT’s Employee/At-Will Personnel Manual, and are attempting again here in VBT, (An ongoing pattern here in VBT) to make themselves relevant or look smart by requesting our attorneys to more or less “rubber stamp” this theory, attempting to legitimize impending actions or penalties.
This whole debacle looks exactly like one of the allegations set forth against elected officials in the 2010 failed recall attempt. Can you say, “Ground Hog Day?” Trustee Frazier is accused of taking liberty or credit for something someone else authored. Trustee Frazier claimed or took credit in jest, (and was perceived that way by some that witnessed the statement during the township board meeting on March 6, 2018 at approx. 9:10 p.m.) to which the attending media representative and the supervisor both chuckled at. The acceptance comment was also published in the township’s Paper of Record as a joke. Immediately after the board meeting, the statement was turned into a political firestorm by one of our well-seasoned politicians. (In the past, they were one of the prime instigators, behind the scenes of course, to initiate a failed recall attempt in 2010 of four trustees.) This instigator’s statement accusing Trustee Frazier of taking false credit was shouted out after the board meeting and was documented in the newspaper as a slur towards its editor.
Then the fight was on, and four of the seven board members began their futile attempt to be relevant. (With one trustee actually calling Trustee Frazier on her cell phone and stating, “It’s my duty to ask you, Sherry Frazier, to step down and resign your position on the board effective immediately.”) Big Rookie Mistake! based on the facts or lack of relating to the said allegations. Getting back to the main point at hand, VBT has no grounds to pursue any legal or binding action towards any sitting trustee (elected official) based on their current Ethics Policy or Employee Handbook. A fact that one needs to understand is that all U.S. citizens, residents, or just plain moral humans in our society, should be honest, trustworthy, courteous, law abiding with integrity, pride and fairness, to which most are. If our society deviates on a legal aspect and causes harm to our society, then we have laws on the books, bound by our U.S. Constitution and enforced by law enforcement officials and the court system. Not this board! So when this board attempts to enforce this bogus Resolution 2003-45 which your House Counsel has failed on numerous occasions over the last two decades to inform you sitting trustees, that it’s a nonbinding Resolution. Then it’s ludicrous that the attorneys haven’t addressed or attempted to inform and or correct the ongoing thought, that this board seems to think they posses a document that governs or guides you in the performance of your duties, not some gibberish on a piece of paper, posing as rule of law that misleads you to think you have a course of action when you want to remove someone from your team that you don’t get along with. There is a thought that seems to slip your minds though, “You are OUR Team, NOT your OWN and you are here for US not yourselves.”
The only time this critical subject comes up, is when the township finds itself in a volatile situation such as a recall, or just plain nastiness, and backstabbing, then a board member with outside direction or influence will run to our House Counsel to receive the same answer as our current supervisor got. (“That an Elected Official cannot be removed by the board, and it’s almost impossible to do unless one has been convicted of a crime that carries jail time lengthy enough that bars the member from performing their duties for more than, let’s say, a normal leave of absence from work. So again, terminate these current attorneys posing as House Counsel, because they continue to lead you down a path of the unknown. Knowing that if they shed light too early and expose their incompetence on this matter, you would realize it and understand that this township doesn’t need or want them directing your decisions. Shoot, even I figured it out 15 or so years ago.
So let me summarize the real situation. The Supervisor’s Investigative Report is full of holes based on complaints of alleged malfeasance.
#1. The above-mentioned trustee’s incident in Taylor, MI, is a violation of the township’s so-called Ethics Policy. NOT! It has yet to be adjudicated by the court system representing the City of Taylor MI, or the State of Michigan. So this allegation by the supervisor needs to be removed from the Statement of Facts and addressed at a later date.
#2. The supervisor claims a violation of the trustee, because she signed for a document, (That is not binding for trustees) Policy and Procedure’s Manual, and by signing for it she was bound by its contents to adhere to, and the consequences/punishments that could be imposed. NOT! Page 4 of the VBT Policy and Procedures Manual specifically states it is for employees of the township. So this, too, needs to be removed from the supervisor’s list of complaints.
#2. The supervisor claims a violation, due to the trustee not disclosing her incident in Taylor, MI, to him as required by the township’s Ethics Policy. NOT! No elected official at VBT is required by any law or policy here in VBT to report anything if he or she doesn’t want to, until at least their case was adjudicated in court with a verdict of Guilty or a Plea Bargain Agreement entered into the court records, and if it were deferred and/or expunged, then the trustee wouldn’t need to report anything if they didn’t want to, without any legal jeopardy from VBT. The claim the supervisor is trying to impose is a line sentence in the Policy and Procedures Manual that is taken out of context and actually pertains to Outside Employment and At-Will Employees, page 60 #12 Section C. which is part of the Rules section for township employees, not trustees. Nowhere in the Policies and Procedures Manual does it require the supervisor report to other board members freely without being asked by the elected official about any alleged criminal or civil activity, especially before it has been adjudicated in a court of law even if there’s a police report from any municipality. Since all individuals in this country are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Not a Court of Opinions. So this complaint needs to be removed from the supervisor’s list of complaints.
It is purposely being misconstrued that the Ethics Policy #12-16 is dealing with outside interests or employment, and that any reporting that the supervisor had to divulge to the board was for Dual Employment #12 (c) only. The penalty portion of p. 60 is void to all Elected Officials and has no standing to enforce against said Part Time or Full Time Elected Official(s). The full disclosure that the supervisor and his cohorts are trying to use in this action are misleading and incorrect and must be removed and expunged from the complaint against Trustee Frazier.
A point of interest. I factually accused the township treasurer of violating on numerous occasions the Disclosure Clause that the township requires, when I exposed that her family members were for approximately 20 years doing work as subcontractors for the township and she never properly disclosed or filed with the township the proper paperwork back in 2009-2011.
#4. The off-handed joke that was in poor taste by Trustee Frazier stated during a board meeting on March 6, 2018 at approx. 9:10 p.m. was a violation of something I have yet to figure out. NOT! Since just as many people that witnessed or heard the statement, the accused Trustee claims was in jest. An official video from the meeting shows the supervisor and others laughing because they, too, also thought the comment was in jest, including the editor for the Paper of Record for VBT to which she commented on in the paper. Also for the record, the trustee made a Formal Apology on March 20, 2018 at approx. 7:15 p.m. That was officially recorded by the township to which she stated three times an apology with a caveat that it was a bad joke. The trustee also explained that she attempted to apologize in person the next day or so to the original author of said article. So there’s no there, there for a violation for punishment. This charge too, needs to be removed from the list of piled on bogus complaints to which now numbers 0.
#5. The suspicious allegation of Assault and Battery that initiated this whole debacle has seemed to have been withdrawn with no further action or consequence after our VBT Clerk will not follow through with his complaint after the investigating officer couldn’t prove that anything actually happened to Clerk Wright. In fact both of Clerk Wright’s official statements deviate in facts and the stories don’t match up in his own words on paper. There seems to be an underlying thought about the chain of events and the timeline that triggered the VBT police personnel to seek a “CCH” (Computerized Criminal History) inquiry on Trustee Frazier. I have serious doubts and will continue to look into this portion of the report made by VBT personnel and the supervisor. Now, lo and behold, the victim refuses to pursue the incident, so the causation/complaint should be stricken and or expunged from the supervisor’s documents, and can’t be used in this kangaroo court. All of this minutia of alleged charges and complaints against Trustee Frazier, are just a piling on of words that amount to nothing, that a few of you “stone throwers” want to make a case for censoring. Or an ill-fated attempt to remove one of your own colleagues, SHAME ON YOU.
Another point of fact and interest that sheds more light on how bad you’re being counseled by McCauley and his cohorts. Not only does this Board lack a true document to guide itself, but the VBT LDFA (Local Development Finance Authority) which is comprised of appointed officials by the supervisor, then approved by a majority vote of the board of trustees, also lacks a binding Ethics Policy or Procedures Manual containing any weight to enforce anything on its board of directors. The LDFA is a state-mandated board enacted by Public Act – PA 281 of 1986, that municipalities can create but is regulated by Michigan Compiled Law MCL 125. The bottom line is that once the Board approves the appointment (by a vote) the member can’t be removed by the supervisor and or the board of trustees. He or she, if they are unwilling to relinquish seat prior to its expiration, can only be removed completely by a Circuit Court Judge’s Order based on MCL 125.215(5). This Protects the member from OH, GEE WHIZ the same thing that’s happening currently in VBT. A political/personality clash with false allegations, bickering, backstabbing, and fighting amongst most of you at one time or another during your term in office since 2016.
Again, kudos to Trustee Martin for realizing this and pointing it out for the record. Good job! The reason it requires a Circuit Court Judge’s Order is to protect and afford the member a fair trial to sort out the issues, even if it’s just negative public opinions that created the animosity to begin with.
The last fact to expose, an another example of incompetence on behalf of McCauley and his group, is that they have known for years that VBT’s Vendor’s Purchasing Policy is toothless with no merit at all as to directing the township board. McCauley has let this policy stand so that the board will continue to request an opinion that he can bill the township for. (Remember, I mentioned billable hours earlier in this letter.) This is the game plan or strategy to keep VBT in the dark, not to expose too much each four-year term so that every new board may ask for the same opinions over and over each term.
John Delaney, VBT Resident
LDFA Recording Secretary
John Delaney, VBT Resident LDFA Recording Secretary Honora