October 05, 2011 - After six months of sick leave, Independence Township Supervisor Dave Wagner hopes to get back to work the first of the year.
Independence Township Supervisor sits on a couch in his Bellshire home. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
"I have no intention of resigning," Wagner said. "If they (doctors) tell me I'm going to be ill and I'll never recover, then at that time I'll have to make that determination."
After multiple neck surgeries and prescribed over 30 medications, he doesn't know what exactly his ailment is.
He hopes to find out at his next appointment on Oct. 12.
"It's something as far as I know that has to do with the immune system and the blood," he said. "That's what they're looking at."
When doctors at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac determined they could not figure out what was wrong, Wagner transferred to the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor.
"I'm happy I'm up there, I believe they're doing a very thorough job," he said. "The only disappointment is I'm not working."
Watching some of the board meetings on cable, Wagner said he's been "disappointed" and believes "the township is going in reverse to 10 to 12 years ago."
Moving public comment to the end of the meeting is "disenfranchising the entire township by not allowing them to speak at the beginning of the meeting."
He also disagrees with the board hiring an "acting supervisor" when there is already a deputy supervisor who has authority to perform supervisor's duties except voting at board meetings.
"I can just imagine who they're going to bring in," Wagner said. "The bad part about that is they bring this poor guy or girl in, but as soon as I come back they got to let them go. That's not fair to that individual."
Wagner said "it's a personal vendetta," against him.
"It's about me, it's not about what is good for the township, it's strictly 'get rid of Dave Wagner,' which has been the objective ever since this new board has taken place," he said. "It's been quite evident by things that have been said and done."
Another reason for not resigning is he wants to keep his healthcare. The board voted 5-2 in November 2010 to increase lifetime healthcare benefits for elected official from eight to 16 years. Wagner was grandfathered into eight years, but fears if he doesn't complete his term, he will lose his Blue Cross.
"That's a major thing to me right now and I need that," he said.
Wagner said he is trying to remain strong.
"I still believe there is a reason for everything," he said. "If you don't feel that way, that means you have no faith and to have no faith you have nothing."
He said in the past month he has received around 30 calls from residents he doesn't even know urging him to run for election in 2012, he says he'll only run if he has a "clean bill of health."
"If I feel healthy enough and the township keeps heading in the direction it's heading and I know my health is good, good, not half good I'll run for office again," Wagner said. "I've got to be able to do the job. If I can't do the job, I'm not going to do something just for the heck of it, because it's time consuming and costs a lot of money."
While receiving long-term disability, according to Finance Director Susan Hendricks, Wagner receives about $1,200, the portion of his regular salary not paid by disability bi-weekly. Of the $1,200, the township contributes 10 percent ($120) towards Wagner's retirement per pay period. He also gets his monthly $600 car allowance.
The township also pays $1,597 per month for Wagner's health insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance.
If Wagner resigns, township Clerk Barbara Pallotta said the township would either have a special election or appoint a supervisor, like when the board appointed Pallotta for clerk in February.
The township could operate without a supervisor until next year's election if they have an acting supervisor performing administrative duties in the office, she said.
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.