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Deputy supervisor defiant in face of criticism



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December 07, 2011 - Since his appointment as deputy supervisor, Nov. 13, Mike Clark said township employees' reception has been good.

"I've been in as many days as I could, probably about 20 hours a week since Nov. 15," Clark said. "I've communicated with Dave Wagner every single day."

H owever, Clerk Barbara Pallotta said she hasn't really seen him.

"He's not filled out any employee papers yet, they're stacked on my desk," she said. "I'm not sure what he's doing."

Before his appointment, Clark said he hadn't "spoken a single word" to Wagner since February, when Wagner voted for Pallotta to be clerk after former township Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen retired.

"I was quite disappointed since that happened," he said. "It's surprising to me, but he seems to be gaining back his strength at a greater rate now that he's not the one who's the brunt of all that's wrong with Independence Township."

Clark said he was approached by intermediaries five weeks ago, asking for him to take the deputy position. He said he had other things to do, like two companies to run, and twins who are sophomores at Oakland University who also help at one of his companies. However, he felt "a sense of obligation from the standpoint of being a community servant."

"I didn't want to take it to be a joke or for any other reason than my grandfather raised me to be civic minded," he said. "I'm not receiving any compensation, don't intend to receive any compensation and in no way involved in the day to day politics of what's going on in Independence Township."

When the board voted to appoint Bart Clark, no relation to Mike, as superintendent, it also de-funded the deputy supervisor position, so Mike is not getting paid.

Mike says he likes Bart and if he ran for supervisor, he would support him. However he doesn't like that Bart, Trustee Neil Wallace and Trustee David Lohmeier all ran on a slate together in 2008, with a township manager or superintendent as their goal.

"The voters didn't want a change in government from a supervisor to superintendent," he said. "This is just overturning the will of the people, which is what bothers me most about the whole thing."

Mike disputes claims that Wagner is only concerned about getting healthcare.

"It may have come across that way in the newspaper, that he was concerned about that and he should be, but what's more important to him is that he is physically able to get back to work and return to his job as supervisor of the township," Mike said. "That will be interesting when he does because at that point it will mean we will have five people basically filling that position. I don't know how the township board justifies the financing."

While many people question Mike's motives at meetings because he's not a township resident, Mike calls it "a distinction without a difference."

"I live in the City of the Village of Clarkston and I own five pieces of property in Independence Township," he said. "My family has continuously paid taxes here since 1929. What is it that makes the difference between being in the city of the village, which is in Independence Township, and being in Independence Township?"

Mike said he would "be happy to any point in time debate any subject with Mr. Wallace or Mr. Lohmeier and he'll take either side of the issue."

He said he is trying to get along with employees and officials.

"I'm in a position where hopefully I can do good. All I have is the best interest of the township at heart, that's all I'm here for," Mike said. "I'm not here to try and stir things up."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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