Source: Sherman Publications

Supervisor's staying on
Wagner defies deadline to step down, get healthcare benefits

by Trevor Keiser

December 07, 2011

The Dec. 1 deadline to resign came and went without response from Supervisor Dave Wagner.

“I’m not going to give them an answer one way or the other until I know what’s going on with me,” Wagner told the Clarkston News, on his way to the doctor’s office last Thursday.

His doctor wrote a note to the board last September stating he is “totally incapacitated until Jan. 1, 2012,” and he’s sticking to it.

“That was the original one (deadline),” Wagner said. “For them to back it up a month, I just think is unreasonable and out of line on their part.”

He also noted he would have another neck surgery this week.

Clerk Barbara Pallotta said she just wants Wagner to get better. In the meantime, she is happy with the work of new Superintendent Bart Clark.

“I feel that we need a leader and this person is stepping up to it, even if it is temporary,” she said.

However, she said she would have voted against the superintendent proposal had Wagner not appointed new Deputy Supervisor Mike Clark.

“It’s not even about Mike Clark, it’s about appointing somebody,” she said. “Especially since he said he’d be back the first of the year. It just seems contradictory to me.”

Treasurer Curt Carson said Bart Clark was “jumping right in.”

“He’s going to have a learning curve just like anybody else,” Carson said. “But I think it’s positive at this point.”

Trustee David Lohmeier said he was “indifferent” whether Wagner gave an answer or not.

“I was OK with putting it out there as a courtesy to him, but at this point it doesn’t really matter now,” Lohmeier said. “I talked to Bart last week and I think we’re going to be good until the end of the year.”

Trustee Larry Rosso wasn’t surprised Wagner didn’t respond.

“After his appointment of the alleged deputy supervisor, that was his decision right there,” Rosso said.

Trustee Mark Petterson agreed the appointment of Mike Clark as deputy supervisor was “a response to the township.”

Petterson said he had no issue with the township asking Wagner to resign, but he was against them asking him “to permanently retire from Independence Township government.”

“I said no to the vocabulary for a specific reason, that reason is to prevent our township from being sued. It’s very possible we’re going to get sued over it,” Petterson said. “Always avoid a lawsuit at all cost because nobody wins but the board’s attorneys. They don’t care, all they want to do is get paid.”

Long time and former Independence Township Attorney Jerry Fisher said it was “making a deal.”

“My assumption is they’re giving him something he’s not entitled to and therefore that’s the tradeoff,” Fisher said. “If he accepted it you could always make that deal.”

Trustee Neil Wallace said the board voted to give him his benefits so Wagner could focus on his health and the board focus on the township “with some certainty of leadership.”

“His apparent rejection shows there is some other motivation or someone else influencing this outcome,” Wallace said. “Our dedicated township employees, community volunteers and the board will all continue to work hard to fulfill our responsibility to make township government work.”