January 04, 2012 - Mike Clark told Independence Township Board that if they wanted to go into closed session without him, they would have to call the sheriff.
They did. Clerk Barb Pallotta called deputies at the Oakland County Sheriff's Independence Township substation.
Deputies arrived, but only to take statements.
"It was ridiculous," said Trustee David Lohmeier. "If he was an employee, he would have been fired. If he'd been a private citizen and disrupted the meeting, he would have been arrested."
Mike Clark, township deputy supervisor, and Superintendent Bart Clark both wanted to sit in on a closed session meeting.
Township Attorney Steve Joppich said the Open Meetings Act says only elected members of the board have the right to attend closed sessions. Also, officials are not permitted to send a proxy.
"Nobody else has the right to be in there with you, unless they are a sitting member of your board. None of us (Joppich, the superintendent or deputy supervisor) are that," Joppich said.
The board gave both Clarks a chance to explain why they wanted to attend the closed session. Bart said as superintendent he was interested in the topic being discussed.
"However, I yield to the board and not attend," he said. "I will wait outside in the other room and if you need my advice I will be waiting for you unless you ask me."
Mike said he was there on behalf of Supervisor Dave Wagner who could not be there himself. He also informed the board he had confidential memos that had been sent to all the board members.
"I'm here not to speak but to merely sit and observe and report back to the supervisor," he said. "In no way do I have any intention to be disruptive."
Trustee Larry Rosso said Mike could be excluded because he wasn't a voting member of the board.
Trustee Neil Wallace saw no reason for either Clark to be in the closed session.
"I also think it was wrong of the supervisor to provide confidential memorandums to the deputy supervisor in this particular situation," Wallace said. "One of the matters we're going to talk about concerns the supervisor and we need to be able to talk frankly."
Trustee Mark Petterson asked why the board was going into closed session.
"Personally, I don't have a problem with either one of them (Bart or Mike) being in there because there is nothing on here that is detrimental to the township or the taxpayers," Petterson said.
The board will discuss potential employee disciplinary action towards Mike at the Jan. 31 meeting.
"He's (Mike) a political mercenary. His full motivation as far as I'm concerned is to satisfy his own ego," Lohmeier said. "He's like a special interest part of one."
Due to being on vacation, substation commander Lt. Dale LaBair could not be reached for comment.
A call to the Michigan Township Association was not returned for comment.
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.