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Discipline delayed for Michael Clark



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February 15, 2012 - Whether or not Independence Township Deputy Supervisor Mike Clark will be disciplined is still up in the air.

Trustees want to punish Clark for disrupting a closed session, Dec. 20. A decision will not be made until Feb. 21.

"Mr. Mike Clark is officially an employee of this township by his appointment of deputy supervisor, even though we've transferred those responsibilities and authority incumbent upon that office on to Mr. Bart Clark," Trustee David Lohmeier said at the Feb. 7 meeting. "Even though he's unpaid and even though he's technically an employee, we should follow the proper protocols."

Mike Clark is accused of refusing to allow the board to conduct a closed session meeting by not leaving, and sheriff deputies were called to the scene, Dec. 20.

Treasurer Curt Carson said he'd vote "no" on pursuing the matter any further.

"I don't believe there was behavior here that was presented that rises to the level of public discipline," he said. "I also don't think this warrants the time we have spent on this, or the taxpayers' funds for two attorneys (opinions) to date for review."

Trustee Mark Petterson asked if Clark had given contact information in order to properly notify him. Clerk Barbara Pallotta said they were given a business card. Also, Clark has not filled out employment paperwork or signed an employment agreement as drafted by the township labor attorney.

She, too, was on the fence as to whether discipline was necessary, but she's upset it has "divided the board."

"If we keep focusing on the behavior of one person, it doesn't say much for this the six members sitting on this board," she said. "It doesn't show us in a positive light and it doesn't show the public what the work we have done."

Trustee Neil Wallace said they have "nothing short of an obligation to pursue this."

"The fact is that someone intentionally used his position to potentially gain an advantage over the township for himself personally and for someone else. And deliberately forted our effort to have a closed session to discuss those matters, that is more wrong than someone flying off the handle and doing cartwheels in the middle of a board meeting," Wallace said. "That is a significant thing and the public should demand of us that we at least examine it and determine appropriate discipline if any."

Lohmeier agreed, being prevented from having closed session and having over three deputies show up to township hall is "very, very troublesome."

"Whatever caused that needs to be dealt with," he said. "Right now, I'm looking at an individual who caused it and that's the reason for the disciplinary questions."

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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