February 29, 2012 - Mike Clark, Independence Township deputy supervisor, has 90 days to think about township closed sessions.
Trustees suspended Clark for 90 days, directing him "to refrain from coming on any township property except for publicly available areas unless requested by the HR director or designate and the suspension will not limit his attendance at public meetings."
According to the board order, approved 4-2 , Feb. 21, Clark must provide paperwork, drug tests, and other procedures as required by the Human Resource department.
Also, he must provide a written apology to the board and the township for his misconduct. The township board may then lift the suspension.
"We have a responsibility not only to the employees, but to the citizens of the township that we act in a responsible manner, irregardless of whether or not that impact is greater or less on an individual," said Trustee David Lohmeier. "We have had legal opinions and determined Mr. Michael Clark is officially an employee, even though he doesn't have any authorities or responsibilities. The deputy supervisor position is an employee of the township."
Trustee Larry Rosso agreed the reprimand was necessary.
"We don't want an employee to ever replicate that type of behavior," he said. "We don't want to be exposed or viewed by other municipalities as one that does not have control of the political and the more importantly the legal process that we are duty bound to follow."
Clerk Barbara Pallotta said she felt the motion was well thought out.
"I support motion in hope that Mr. Michael Clark will take this to heart," Pallotta said. "You can't be an employee in name only. You have to actually conduct yourself in a professional manner because you are representing the township and the public."
While he did not agree with the behavior, Trustee Mark Petterson voted against the motion because he felt Clark was only following orders given by Supervisor Dave Wagner and "didn't have a clear intention of absolutely disrupting the meeting."
"I think the whole thing is an absolute big giant mistake," he said. "I think we could have spent our money better than chasing our attorneys around looking for opinions."
Treasurer Curt Carson voted "no" because he felt the board wasted time on a non-issue.
Trustee Neil Wallace wished Clark would have attended the meeting, so he could have "urged him to do the community a favor and give them a break from his pointless and unproductive diatribes."
"I suspect he does not have the personal self awareness or discipline not to come back here, but to me it won't matter. He's demonstrated who he is and he's demonstrated he's not to be taken seriously," Wallace said. "I certainly will not be able to take him serious after these events."
Clark said he only serves at the pleasure of the supervisor, according to state statute MCL 41:61 paragraph two.
"I do not serve at the pleasure of the township board they do have no authority to reprimand me," Clark said. "There are other legal entities in the state of Michigan that have jurisdiction over this issue besides the township attorneys."
Township officials called deputies after Clark refused to leave a closed session last December.
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.