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Keiser's Role A column by Trevor Keiser

Bird for bird

January 04, 2012 - I find Independence Township Trustee Neil Wallace's proposal to eliminate retirement healthcare for all current and future full-time elected officials very interesting.

While I still believe there should be no healthcare benefits for full-time elected officials beyond their term of office. Wallace's motion seems to be more than just for "costing savings and the good of the township."

In his memo to the board Wallace states Trustee Mark Petterson's has repeatedly stood for the elimination of retirement healthcare benefits for elected officials and "on reflection" he agrees. Anyone who's been around the township knows Wallace has been opposed to these benefits since they were brought forth during the administration of Dale Stewart.

He also opposed them again when the board voted to move the benefits from eight years to 16 years and grandfathered current Supervisor Dave Wagner into the eight year category.

Wallace also noted in his memo the benefits "could in the future encourage elected officials to hang on to the job when they should not." Isn't that what Wallace said Wagner was doing? Isn't that why he brought forth the motion to give Wagner 30 days to accept his lifetime healthcare benefit early and permanently retire from Independence Township government?

Why was Wallace so adamant the vote to eliminate healthcare had to be at the Dec. 20 meeting and not discussed further and voted on at a later date? Was he afraid the supervisor might come back in January and he would lose the opportunity to get rid of him?

I believe Wallace's proposal is nothing more than an attempt to return "the bird" after Wagner denied the proposal to resign as supervisor and appointed Mike Clark as deputy supervisor. A way of saying "Wagner didn't accept our deal to receive his benefits early and retire. Fine, let's eliminate his retirement benefits all together. Maybe that will get rid of him."

Should retirement healthcare benefits be eliminated for full-time officials? You betcha, but the vote should not be just to spite another board member whom you don't like.

I believe the board made the right decision to reconstitute the benefits committee to look at all healthcare savings.

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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