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Resident wants apology for tractor case



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January 25, 2012 - H. Wallace Parker has an ultimatum for Independence Township Board apologize or get sued.

"I hereby demand that you publish a retraction in both the Oakland Press and the Clarkston News. I, further, demand you privately and publicly apologize for defamation, libel, and disparagement of my reputation," Parker wrote in a July 12 letter to the board. "You have 30 days to accomplish this."

In July 2011, township employees saw a tractor on his Pine Knob Road property similar to one missing from the township. The township sent a private investigator over to look at the property and take photos. Employees determined Parker's tractor was not the one missing from the township.

Though cleared, Parker still wants an apology from the board.

"'We never saw the tractor on your place we know you had nothing to do with theft or displacement of our property and we're sorry.' That's all I need to hear," he said. "I would be satisfied with that, but if they don't do it, we'll have to settle it another way and that's through court."

Parker, who is chief council for North Oakland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, reprimanded the board for their actions.

"You were grossly negligent in accusing me, the only minority that lives in Independence Township who owns agriculture property," Parker said in his letter. "Obviously, it gives the impression that, 'if the law has been compromised or breached, it has to be by the only minority horse rancher.'"

Trustee David Lohmeier acknowledged receipt of Parker's letter.

"I got a copy of the letter, but I think we need to talk about it as a board first," he said.

Clerk Barbara Pallotta agreed.

"I don't think I'm able to discuss it under our attorney's advice," she said. "He's reviewing everything right now and we'll going into closed session on it."

Treasurer Curt Carson said he didn't know enough about it until they have a meeting and he finds out "what's really going on."

In his letter, Parker also singled out Trustee Neil Wallace for "wasting a lot of tax dollars," when Wallace should have known Parker "would not take or conceal property."

According to sheriff investigation, a Department of Public Works employee received a call before the July 4 weekend from Wallace, "who gave him an address on Pine Knob Road and asked him to have the park's guys go by the address to see if the tractor in the yard could be the one that belonged to the township."

Trustee Mark Petterson said he is "ashamed of Mr. Wallace," and feels the community "should not trust him anymore and he should resign immediately."

"There is no question from that report that Mr. Wallace exceeded his authority, he has no authority to send anybody anywhere," Petterson said. "Now, he's put the township in jeopardy of a lawsuit and we will not win."

The sheriff report also indicated Wallace refused to be interviewed by the police after several phone calls and two "failed to show." To date, Wallace has never been interviewed concerning the investigation.

Wallace did not reply to e-mail requesting comments.

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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