January 25, 2012 - Township officials worked out how to deal with future closed-session disruptions – deputies will intervene if called upon by the township attorney.
Trustee Neil Wallace explains to Trustee Mark Petterson why a court order requires a lawsuit. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
Neil Wallace, Independence Township trustee, accepts that for now.
"I guess we'll have to experiment with it, I hope it doesn't come up again," Wallace said at the Jan. 17 township meeting.
"It should be enough that we as a board take a vote (for the law to be enforced.) We shouldn't have to have our attorney here or on call."
The township board called deputies to remove Deputy Supervisor Mike Clark from closed session, Dec. 20. Deputies declined, citing a need for a court order.
Wallace previously said a lawsuit may be required to get a court order, but now says it's unnecessary.
If the situation recurs, the board could hire its own constable or township marshal, he said.
Trustee Larry Rosso thought it was important to clarify the issue.
"That in itself is an excellent step. Our Lt. (Dale LaBair) should take notice," Rosso said. "It's sorry when we spend millions of dollars on police budget and police contract that they in this instance didn't respond accordingly to what we thought they should have done."
Trustee David Lohmeier said the situation is unique.
"I think we're all in understanding that it isn't allowed and the title deputy supervisor doesn't give you the right to any special treatment," he said. "I'm hopeful we won't have this same occurrence again. I certainly believe the Sheriff's department doesn't want to have a reoccurrence."
Treasurer Curt Carson agreed they should have had a right to a closed meeting, but said he did not feel threatened by Mike Clark and thought "the whole incident was overblown."
"I think we were educated that night and since then we've all been educated some more," Carson said. "I am not interested in bashing the sheriff's department and certainly not interested in suing them."
Clerk Barbara Pallotta also did not feel threatened, but was "annoyed" they couldn't conduct their closed session.
"I don't believe we need a sheriff here or a sergeant of arms," she said. "But we do need something in place so that we're not reactionary if we are threatened here."
The board will discuss employee action towards Mike Clark at Jan 31 meeting.
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.