Keiser’s Role A column by Trevor Keiser

I am glad to see the selection committee for the next Independence Township Clerk has narrowed the 45 person resume pool down to the top three.
I believe all three candidates have the abilities and skill sets of a good clerk. Joan McCrary already having been the township clerk for 16 years and knowing the job can hit the ground running on day one.
Joan Patterson has shown to give careful thought to decisions made on the Clarkston school board level and has a thirst for always learning something new.
Unfortunately, I don’t know Barbra Pallotta as well as I do McCrary or Patterson. Judging from her background of working for various municipalties around the state as a steno clerk doing meeting minutes as well as serving as a deputy clerk I’m sure she has gained helpful insight to do the job efficently.
As to whether or not any of the township board members added any names from the resume pool they thought should be considered, I won’t know until after this paper has already gone to print.
To be honest I don’t really see the point of having a committee to select ‘the top three? if board members are just going to add more names to the list. It defeats the purpose of having a ‘selection committee if you start second guessing their selections.
There has been a level of secretcy and ‘keeping things on the DL (Down Low),? which I have not liked. For example 45 people put their names in for Township Clerk, but the residents only get to know who the top three selected are. I agree with Trustee Mark Petterson that all names should have been made known to the public WITHOUT a Freedom of Information request.
As Petterson said ‘This is not just a job – This is a political position with statutory duties within our community.?
Another example of secretcy is when I called two of the top three candidates they had not even recieved a phone call from a committee member letting them know they had been selected.
I understand giving the ‘official news? in a public board meeting, but not letting candidates know ahead of time and making them ‘sit on pins and needles? is wrong in my opinion. This isn’t a game show, stop treating it as one. Remember ‘open, honest, and transparent government.?

I came into work last Thursday angry and furious that after a regular board meeting and two special meetings Independence Township board still had not appointed a new clerk and now (Thursday night) we were having yet another special meeting.
However, I left Thursday’s meeting no longer angry, but completely dismayed because I had just witnessed the worst township board meeting to date.
Not only did they not make a decision and board members infighting was at all time low, but it was also let out Treasurer Curt Carson in attempted to break the ‘deadlock? between the candidates Joan McCrary, Barbra Pallotta, & Joan Patterson in a manner that is questionable.
Carson, who believes McCrary to be the best candidate for clerk, asked her if she were made clerk would she consider bringing Patterson on board to be deputy clerk. McCrary thought it sounded like a good idea, so the two met with Patterson and discussed the issue.
Patterson stood before the township board Thursday night to disclose the meeting had happened and that after thought and consideration she was not accepting the offer. She was ‘shocked? such an offer would be made.
I applaud Mrs. Patterson to do the right thing and come forward.
Both Carson and McCrary don’t see anything wrong with the proposal. Well, I don’t care any way you look at it. It stinks and it does come off as a ‘backroom deal,?
Even if to make such an offer is not illegal, there is a question to ethical and moral integrity of it, which to me far outweighs legal law.
I heard Mrs. McCrary say to one of the residents during a break in one of the meetings, ‘The other two just aren’t qualified for the job… I am qualified and I am the best choice for the position.? Well, I am sorry Mrs. McCrary, while I do believe your 16 years of does speak for itself, and that y ou would do a fine job. I do think the other two candidates ARE qualified to do the job. Do each of them have some learning curves? Of course, but are they qualified and capable? You betcha. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be in the top three.
Another special meeting to appoint clerk was held Tuesday, check to see update.

Growing up in the cold state of Michigan it’s not uncommon to put on a pair of ice skates in the winter time and maybe grab a stick, a puck, and a couple of friends and find yourself enjoying some ‘good old hockey.?
Ever since I was a kid I have loved the game of hockey. Though I never played much ice hockey because it didn’t seem to get quite cold enough for some of those live spring ponds to freeze hard enough to skate on. I did play a lot of neighborhood roller hockey and one year on an actual team.
Well, being a fan of the sport and living in the state of Michigan, it’s near impossible to not love and be a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, an ‘original six? team that offers such great history with names like Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk, Bob Probert, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Nick Lindstrom, Steve Yzerman (my all-time favorite), Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg.
All these names offer you a different time in Red Wing History and I have been fortunate to witness four of eleven Stanley Cup championship wins starting in 1997 when I was 14 years old.
Growing up a ‘Wing Nut,? my best friend Josh also happen to be a ‘Wing Nut.? I still remember us playing one-on-one on his pond when it actually got cold enough for it to freeze.
Josh and I have talked about going to a Wings game since at before high school, but we never made it to a game. Perhaps it was the cost for tickets, anyone who’s bought tickets for the Wings knows they don’t come cheap. Or maybe it was because Josh moved to Missouri.
This season I was sick and tired of talking about going to a game and it was time to actually GO. So for a mini vacation I took a weekend trip down to St. Louis and spent some ‘guy time? with my best friend as the wings beat the St. Louis Blues, 5-3.
We were amazed to see so many Wings fans. Even though we were the away team, it was fun to feel the excitement of the crowd, the ‘chill in the air? and to see the great names you have only seen on your television screen ‘up close and personal.?
The Wings currently sit second in the Western Conference and third in the overall league. As playoffs are just around the corner remember to ‘fear the beard? because DETROIT IS HOCKEYTOWN!

I have had a lot of time to think the past couple of weeks concerning Independence Township Board’s decision to eliminate Treasurer Curt Carson from any further contact with state officials or township auditors Plante & Moran concerning the Deficit Elimination Plan.
If you’re guessing that I disagree with their vote, than you guessed correctly. Now, let me tell you why.
The motion given by Trustee Neil Wallace at the Jan. 18 meeting states ‘the board authorize Les Pulver from Plante Moran to contact the state, to explore with the state other potential options for eliminating or fixing the Deficit Elimination Plan and report back to the board as soon as possible.?
After the motion was given, Mr. Carson suggested using state representatives to help out in the situation. It was only Mr. Wallace who objected to the idea.
It was then Mr. Pulver spoke up and said he has no standing with the state on his own and suggested a ‘team? of township officials (supervisor, treasurer, a trustee and possibly a state representative) work with him.
Once again it was only Mr. Wallace who objected and suggested the deputy supervisor would be a good point man to work with Pulver. Supervisor Dave Wagner said he thought it was a good idea and would have the deputy supervisor call Pulver. (My guess is Wagner was simply trying to shut Wallace up so they could move to the next agenda item.)
What’s my point, you ask? My point is I am sick and tired of board members showing up to meetings and telling someone they disobeyed what ‘the Board? authorized. When what they’re claiming the board authorized was never authorized by the board, because the board never voted against the suggestion of using state reps. Nor did they vote to authorize the deputy supervisor as the point man.
It was one man who spoke to those suggestions and it was Mr. Wallace. I’m sorry, Mr. Wallace, but you are one man with one opinion and only one vote.
Here’s a suggestion. Next time, make your motion say exactly how you want it said because a broad motion leaves room for debate.

As I looked at the clock go past 11 p.m. I thought to myself , ‘am I sitting in a city council meeting or a township board meeting??
I was rather confused because the city usually never runs their meetings past 9 p.m., and if they do, they definitely don’t go past 10 p.m..
The city council wasn’t as theatrical as their ‘friendly neighbors,? but there were still a few ‘hot topics.? The first was in regards to 90 N. Main and the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance for a limited use overlay district handed to the council by the planning commission.
The council voted 6-0 on the first reading of the proposed amendment and added back in the multiple residential component, which the planning commission had removed at their last meeting.
I found it interesting residents were more opposed to the residential component than they were of the limited use for commercial.
According to the amendment, written by City Planner Dick Carlisle, the residential component would be restricted to the top floor of 90 N. Main and will only allow at the maximum two residential components.
I understand the houses in the neighborhood are single-family residential, but I don’t think allowing one more residence, whether single or a family of six in a commercial building, is going to harm the neighborhood.
The amendment is actually quite specific and I believe Carlisle has done a very good job representing neighbors while allowing the owners of 90 N. Main their right to conduct business in a reasonable manner in accordance to the surrounding area.
The second hot topic of the night came in the discussion of possibly hiring a new clerk for roughly $10,000 in addition to City Treasurer Kim Howe’s salary of $14,500, which was split between clerk/treasurer until she quit the clerk job.
I understand good help comes at a price and I agree city workers are underpaid but I keep wondering if Cory Johnston is on to something when he calls for dissolvement of the cityhood. Perhaps the cost of city government is too much for 882 residents.
This was a taste – look for the complete stories in next week’s edition of The Clarkston News.

This past weekend I went to Cedar Point with my girlfriend Noell and her family. It was her younger sister Hannah’s birthday and a trip to Cedar Point was what she requested for her birthday present.
Well, let me tell you,the last time I went to Cedar Point I think I might have been 10-12 years old and the most intense rides I rode were the Corkscrew and the Blue Streak.
I’ve never been a huge rollercoaster fan. Perhaps it’s because I remember as little kid going and my dad having to hold me down because I could just stand up and walk right out of seat even with the bar down. It could also be that I have a little fear of heights.
I don’t mind flying in planes or standing at the top of the St. Louis Arch and looking out. But going 70 plus miles per hour at 200 plus feet in the air isn’t really my cup of tea.
Being it’s been over 10 years since I’ve been to Cedar Point, I was determined to conquer my fears and take on some of the big rides.
My girlfriend thought the Raptor would be a good one to get my feet wet. While the ride got my stomach to drop a few times and my heart rate up, I felt fine once the ride was over. and thought ‘that one was pretty fun.?
Taking a break from the thrill ride, Noell and I rode one of the easy going spinny rides that you go on at fairs. Next, we decided to go on the Magnum, which had set records when it first opened in 1989, and would seem to some as child’s play who ride the Millineum Force and the Dragster. But to me it was like facing Goliath.
As I waited the 45 minutes in line I was fine, I got to the top and stood on the platform and looked up at the first major drop. I wanted to run and hide. As we got in our seats I gripped on for my dear life and had my eyes closed most of the time. It was about five minutes after the ride had ended I started to speak in full sentences.
Not to be overcome by fear I rode the Gemini as my last ride of the day. Perhaps one day I will be able to push my self to the next level and go on the Millineum Force and the Dragster. For now I am content to say, ‘I rode the Magnum.?

It’s interesting how death of a loved one can instantly bring upon reflection of days passed. For me those ‘days passed? were brought forward on June 7 when I received a phone call that my grandfather Henry S. Watson had passed away.
Many of my memories of Grandpa surrounded ‘Clarkston.? Grandpa and Grandma lived in their house on Allen Road in Independence Township for nearly 40 years until they moved to Linden. I remember when Grandpa would bring me to Clarkston parades and me thinking that it took forever to get to town from their house.
It was on their five acres that Grandpa attempted to teach me how to swing a golf club, that was until my hands were rubbed raw from gripping the clubs so tight. I used to love when we would take a trip up to A&W in Ortonville for a root beer float or over to Cook’s Dairy Farm for ice cream. Grandpa always got Black Cherry, Grandma, Butter Pecan, my sister Blue Moon, and me Superman.
Grandpa also loved taking us grandkids on vacations. Whether it was jamming to oldies on the way to Arkansas and stopping in St. Louis Mo. to go up in the arch or going up north to enjoy the fall colors, it was always filled with fun.
Grandpa was also a veteran. He served as a cook in the United States Navy between 1951-1956 during the Korean War.
Grandpa was a very straight to the point kind of guy, which is why he liked the book of Proverbs in the bible. It didn’t matter the subject matter or the issue, Grandpa had an opinion and he was going to let you know exactly what his opinion was.
He loved to talk news and politics. I even came across a letter to the editor he had written in the Clarkston News archives. Growing up I remember him flipping between Fox and CNN and explaining to me the different view points between the two stations. At that age I didn’t really care much for politics.
Funny how I got thrust into the political sphere when I became a newspaper reporter and finally began to understand why Grandpa had told me it was important to be pay attention to your governmental leaders and get involved.
As the squeaky little boy voice in me used to say ‘Hello Pappa? with a smile. Today I say ‘Good-bye Pappa? Thanks for the memories of days passed.

As many of you faithful readers know, I wrote a column in June 2010 about heading to Georgia to get married and move on to the next phase of life.
As some of you found out, the engagement didn’t go as planned and I found myself once again praying and trusting God that He knew the right woman for me.
In the meantime my parents and I started going to a new church and, not wanting to put my life on hold because my heart had been hurt, I started getting involved and making new friends. I met some nice girls in the process and even went on a date or two but was still waiting for the ‘wow factor.?
At my church we have a custom on Sunday mornings to gather in groups of three or four and pray together in between worship time and sermon. I found a group of guys I usually gathered with to pray, but it just so happened on Sunday, Feb. 13, I didn’t end up praying with ‘the brothers.? Instead I was in a group of about 5-6.
As we stood there in the group, this girl started praying and my heart started connecting with the words of her prayer. I was getting the ‘wow factor? from her prayer, so when we finished praying, I looked up and saw it was a very attractive girl who I had been introduced to the week before. Her name was Noell.
After the service, I ran over to catch her before she left and just told her how I enjoyed her prayer. While I thought she was really cute, I wasn’t sure how old she was because she sat in the youth group section at church. Much to my delight I was able find out through Facebook she was 19-years-old.
After messaging her and getting her number I began text messaging her and after a day’s worth of text messages and a quick stop for pizza rolls at Meijer, I knew this girl definitely had ‘the wow factor? I had been waiting for.
A week later I asked her to be my girlfriend. Three months later in May, I asked her to marry me (check out our engagement annoucement on page 4B).
As you read this it’s 45 days until I say ‘I do? to my lovely wife who I love with all my heart.

Do any of you remember the Dreamworks animated movie ‘Chicken Run? that came out 11 years ago?
If you didn’t see it. It’s a story about a chicken farm set in Yorkshire New England during the 1950’s and when the farmer decides to go from selling eggs to selling chicken pie, the chickens decide they have to find a way to escape the farm before facing their sinister death. To help in the escape the flock seeks out the smooth talking American chicken from Rhode Island named Rocky who by accident landed on the farm by ‘flying.?
So are you wondering what all this chick filet talk is about? I’ll explain.
Last Friday Aug 12, at 12 p.m., I signed the dotted line(s) and am now an official homeowner. I found a good deal on a home for me and my beautiful wife to be in 17 days.
It’s a nice quad level (tri-level with a basement) for $50,000 in Lapeer. It’s a brown/tan house with green shutters. 1,200 square feet with decent size yard for Noell, my fiancee’s, dog to run in.
However the dog is going to need a fence because otherwise Noell and I will be starting our own chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken. As we discovered Thursday night, our neighbors behind us through the bushes have chickens and the flock likes to find their way into our yard as well as the next door neighbors.
As my dad and I were fixing the window in the master bedroom on Saturday, I found the clucking flock very amusing and took many photos of them on my phone.
Yes, growing up in Lapeer I am quite used to seeing plenty of deer, corn fields, cows, horses, and yes even chickens. However, my house is in a neighborhood with a paved road. There aren’t any farms or barns directly around my house, so free roaming chickens comes as a great entertainment to me.
In fact I am thinking of starting my own chicken farm, but I don’t think Noell is up for raising chickens. She does however want us to get a kitten once she moves in after the wedding and eventually bring her dog Tippy. As I stated earlier, we’ll need a fence because otherwise we’ll be eating lots of chicken, but until a fence goes up or my neighbor discovers his chickens are on the run, I’ll enjoy cluckers roaming in my back yard.

After wedding my lovely bride, Noell, on Sept. 3, which just happens to be the best birthday present I could get, I took a week off for a honeymoon in Chicago.
I enjoyed ‘The Windy City? with my wife as we enjoyed $40 steak, tourist attractions like Shedd Aquarium, and the Navy Pier, a play at Shakespeare Theatre and stores along the Magnificent Mile ? way too expensive for a journalist’s wage.
I saw ties that cost $200. I joked with Noell that if I was going to pay $200 for a tie, it better be bullet proof. However, Noell did enjoy shopping in her favorite store Forever 21.
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Chicago Tribune tower on Michigan Avenue, erected in 1925.
Although I didn’t step foot inside the newsroom and only stood in the lobby, I was in awe. Inscribed in the architecture are huge quotations from newspapermen through the years.
My favorite came from former Tribune editor, owner, and publisher Robert R. McCormick, ‘The newspaper is an institution developed by modern civilization to present the news of the day, to foster commerce and industry, to inform and lead public opinion, and to furnish that check upon government, which no constitution has ever been able to provide.?
This quote leads me to my ‘check upon government,? where upon my return to work I find out the public comment portion at Independence Township Board meetings was moved to the end.
I respect Clerk Barb Pallotta and agree the board is there ‘to conduct the business of the township,? but I feel the board is once again making a rule change on public comment based upon ‘the abuse? of a couple people.
Trustee Larry Rosso even admitted it.
‘Most people are civil, from my experience,? Rosso said. “That’s unfortunate we have to change the rule because of certain abusers.?
While I also agree most public concerns should be handled in day-to-day operations and offices of the supervisor, clerk, and treasurer, I have been at enough meetings where citizens have something legitimate to say, concerning the entire board. Whether they saw on TV or in the Clarkston News, they should be able to say that at the beginning and not have to wait 3-5 hours until the end of the meeting.
The board can amend the rule at any given time during a meeting and if someone asks to speak before regular business on a certain topic, the board can grant them that privilege. However, it still comes off as picking and choosing what you want to hear and pushing aside what you don’t. Public criticism is part of the job as a politician. If the ‘slings and arrows? are too much, than you better get stronger armor.

This is a good time to be a Detroit sports fan.
Though they’re currently down two games to Texas it’s still exciting to see the Tigers in the post season.
I would love to see the Tigers beat the Rangers and face off against the St. Louis Cardinals for the World Series.
The Lions won four games in a row, two of which were amazing second half comebacks.
Lions fan have been starving for a long time to have something to cheer about.
The last time they played Monday Night Football was 2001. They beat the Bears 24-13, making this their first 5-0 season in 55 years.
It would be nice if the Lions could make it to the playoffs and finally get rid of all the ill-feelings of the ‘Matt Millen era? with the 0-16 season.
If you’re a college football fan then you also have something to cheer about as Michigan goes head to head with Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday at noon.
Michigan currently has a 6-0 record and Michigan State is 4-1. LET’S GO BLUE!
If you’re a hockey fan, the NHL season just started and your Detroit Red Wings won their first two games . There is plenty of hockey season to be played.
I know for me hockey doesn’t really ‘start? until baseball and football seasons are over and by over I mean our local Detroit and University of Michigan football seasons are done.
As far as the Detroit Pistons go, they’re currently in a lockout and I don’t know if players, coaches, and the NBA will settle negotiations in time to have a season.
In other ‘news,? my wife Noell and I recently celebrated our first month of marriage.
It has been a good first month, there has been a little adjusting of living with one another, as there is with every newlyweds, but we’ve had a good time.
I can say I love her more today than when I married her 37 days ago and that’s something to smile about.

I find it interesting the topic of a township superintendent, also known as ‘township manager,? which was greatly debated during the 2008 Independence Township election season is coming around full circle and now possibly come to fruition.
(Unfortunately I won’t know the results of Tuesday’s meeting until after this paper’s deadline, so hold onto your hats until next week.) For those of you who may not have been paying attention, let me try and catch you up.
Nearly seven months now, the township has been operating without Supervisor Dave Wagner because he’s been out on disability due to severe sickness. The last doctor’s note received stated Wagner would not return until Jan 1, 2012.
Trustee David Lohmeier has said the township has gone long enough with out a supervisor, so a little over a month ago he introduced his proposal to hire a part-time acting supervisor, who would get them to the end of their term in 2012 if Wagner did not return.
After discussions at the board table concerning it, Lohmeier realized bringing in an acting supervisor would not be a smooth process with all the board members, so ‘with no appetite for a fight.? he has changed his game plan to hire a part-time township manager to fill the day-to-day operational duties of the supervisor.
Lohmeier announced at the Oct. 25 special meeting his pick for superintendent was either Trustee Larry Rosso or Trustee Neil Wallace. Both have been resistant, up until this point, according to Lohmeier.
My question is to whether or not this is a good idea? I was not a fan of the manager idea when it was proposed in 2008. I think with the uncertainty of the supervisor Wagner’s return, something has to be done.
However, I do have two concerns. The first being who is picked for the position. As Uncle Ben said to Spider-man, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.? The second concern is if the supervisor comes back will he have any power and duties left, or will they all have been stripped away from him?

Mouth dropping, shocked, confused, and anger are just a few words to describe the emotions in the room upon the announcement of Mike Clark as deputy supervisor at the Nov. 15 Independence Township Board meeting.
I’ve been working for the Clarkston News going on five years and in that time I’ve seen Supervisor Dave Wagner make a lot of what I would call ‘questionable decisions.? This one is a bad decision.
Anybody who’s been around for a few years and watched or attended board meetings, knows the appointment of Mike Clark is the biggest sign of ‘the bird? that Mr. Wagner could give. Especially knowing that Mike and Trustee Neil Wallace are pretty much arch nemesis and the two couldn’t get along even if you paid them too.
I understand that this appointment is in direct relation to the proposal by Trustee David Lohmeier and the board’s acceptance to a township superintendent AKA ‘township manager.? At the same time the township has been between a rock and a hard place for the past seven months with Wagner out on disability.
His last doctor note stated his medical condition, ‘is totally incapacitated from working until Jan. 1 2012? While I hope Wagner can come back and finish the term he was elected to, I don’t expect the board to sit around hoping. They probably could have made it to January before moving forward, but I believe the appointment of Mike Clark forced their hand a little quicker than expected.
While I am still struggling with completely stripping the supervisor of all his powers and giving them to a superintendent, I think the new superintendent, Bart Clark will serve the township well. He has proven himself as a man of integrity, and one who is able to think independently and act on his own convictions.
Some will argue this to be a ‘backdoor deal,? but a backdoor deal is something typically done behind closed doors and not in the light of the public. Mr. Lohmeier’s proposal has been made known in open meetings for the past couple months. So, I would say he walked through the front door and left his game plan on the table for all to see.

It’s hard to believe only one week and four days until Christmas. I am super excited because this is my first Christmas as a married man.
As in ‘typical husband fashion? I still have not finished all my Christmas shopping for my wife. She keeps asking if I’ve done it and I smile and say ‘some.?
While we’ve had our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving, and had Christmas with Casey Kasem playing on the radio, it doesn’t quite feel like Christmas.
Driving at night, Noell and I have noticed there isn’t as many houses lit up with Christmas lights and nobody seems to be in the ususal ‘excited Christmas mood.?
In conversations I’ve heard some people are actually dreading Christmas and that is sad. Perhaps they’ve become too focused on the gift aspect and not enough on the meaning of Christmas or perhaps the politically correct statement ‘Happy Holidays? has spoiled the joy of being able to say ‘Merry Christmas? without offending someone else.
My wife having the name Noell and being a Dec. born baby loves Christmas time and is longing for snow to fall. Every morning she asks ‘Did it snow?? I answer with either ‘a little,? or ‘no it didn’t.? Then a sad look comes over her face with a ‘ohhh…..?
As I have stated in previous columns about my loath for snow and the cold weather, I am trying really hard to find the ‘romance? in it all. I probably wouldn’t mind it nearly as much if there was no wind chill and if the snow never covered the roads. If there was a way to make it so it melted as it touched the pavement and only have it on the sides in the grass and trees, that would be awesome.
Many may be in a ‘Scrooge? like state this Christmas season, Noell and I plan on sharing Christmas joy and cheer with all we meet. Remembering Christmas is not about wrapping paper, toys and goodies.
It’s a time to reflect on the amazing hope given to the world one night when a woman by the name of Mary gave birth in a barn to a little baby named Jesus Christ. That’s a moment in time I believe changed the world forever. It’s because of that birth, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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.

The story started out as a supervisor in Independence Township (Dave Wagner) ‘exceeding his authority by giving away township property? AKA a broken down tractor to its original owner who donated it to the township some 25-30 years earlier.
This led to angry township board members wanting to spend tax dollars on Oakland County Sheriff investigators as well as private investigators to find the ‘missing tractor? and if the supervisor had committed a crime. Despite recieving letters from the orginal donor stating he recieved his tractor back and had it ‘properly disposed of.?
The story ended with two sheriff investigations and an Oakland Prosecutor’s office coming up with the same conclusion ‘insufficient evidence of a crime being committed.? The prosecutor’s office also pointed out the tractor was never even township property because they never voted on the acceptance of the proposed donation of the tractor, as required by law.
What happen in the middle you ask? The answer: A man by the name of H. Wallace Parker who owns a tractor that looks similar to that of the township’s gets township employees driving back and forth and investigators at his property taking pictures trying to determine if that’s ‘their tractor.?
Who was the middle ‘hatchet man?? A trustee (Neil Wallace) who took matters into his own hands by picking up the phone giving out a house address and asking township employees to drive by to check the tractor on the property.
Since when does a trustee ever have the power to direct a township employee to do anything? Since when does an employee listen to someone who is not their boss?
Surprising since this is the same trustee who has scolded the supervisor in public meetings by saying ‘it’s the board who makes the decisions.?
Well if that’s the case, then shouldn’t ‘the board? have been immediately informed a similar looking tractor was seen and a special meeting called of how to handle it? I guess we won’t know since Mr. Wallace refused to be interviewed by the police and doesn’t return e-mails to the news seeking answers. It raises the question what does he have to hide?

After three days of wife Noell not being able to eat or drink anything without throwing it back up, I began to realize normal flu remedies weren’t working and took her to a doctor.
He did the normal open up and say ‘ahhh,? ‘take a deep breath in, now let it out,? but then when he got to the ‘does it hurt when I push here? that a problem was discovered. When he pushed on her stomach and she said ‘owwww that hurts? and he asked on a scale of 1-10 and she said 7, that he looked at me and said ‘take her across the street to ER at the hospital.?
I rushed her to the emergency room. After an ultra-sound it was determined that my wife may have to have her appendix taken out. When a surgeron finally came in the next morning it was confirmed that a surgery was needed.
This was all new to Noell, as she had not even had her blood drawn prior to this. The only other surgery she had was her adenoids taken out when she was a little kid. I was trying to be strong and encouraging, but I’ll admit I shed a few tears, because I hated seeing her in so much pain.
The surgery went well and the doctors thought she’d probably feel better and ready to go home ‘the next day.?
The next day came and Noell was still nauseated and not able to hold food or liquids down, with a fever spiking above 100 degrees. Once they took her off the morphine and put her on a different pain killer her stomach started to settle a little. However, she still wasn’t getting better. CAT scans, X-rays, and more blood draws were ordered.
The infectious disease doctor thought she might have a bacterial virus known as Yersimia enterocolitica, which is mainly from eatng raw pork. They also drained fluid from her lungs, thinking it was possible pneumonia setting in. After a scope down the throat, it was determined she has stomach ulcers,
After 11 days in the hospital they finally discharged her last Monday, diagnosed with stomach ulcers, appendicitis, and mononucleosis. After many prayers, tears, and sleepless nights of worry, I am so happy to finally have my lovely wife back home. Thanks all to those who prayed, visited in the hospital, sent cards and gifts and gave encouraging words.

‘Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn’t any doubt at all that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.? ~ ‘Conversations with President Kennedy,? Dec. 17,1962.
In a world of cyber-media where any Joe, Dick and Harry can give ‘news? via YouTube or blogging. I still believe in the importance of actual reporters and journalists.
In a lunch discussion with a former local government official I was asked if it’s hard to do the double duty of being a reporter (writing news stories objectively, honestly, and fairly) and being a columnist (giving personal thoughts, opinions, and insights on said news stories).
My answer was no. I look at news as giving the facts of an incident, with the thoughts and opinions of those who were involved. An example being a topic at a township board or city council meeting. The facts are what topic they discussed, and what the vote was. The quotes and opinions within are those of the various members of the board or council.
I think this is important because we the press are charged with making sure we not only get our facts straight, but we get both sides of a story. We let the opposing viewpoints be heard or in our case read.
Thoughts and opinions need to be challenged, including my own, This is why I am glad readers write Letters to the Editor to share their thoughts on what they’ve read either on the front page or in Keiser’s Roll.
‘The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permited freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is neccesary to keep the waters pure.? ~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Marquis de Lafayette, November 4, 1823.
As a newspaper reporter/columinist I take the power of the press to inform objectively, honestly, and fairly the public on local issues. Also, to keep in check those who have been elected by the people with great responsibility. I will continue to do so to the best of my ability.

Five years ago I wrote my first column for The Clarkston News. Now, I am writing my last.
To some of you this may be sad news and to others a sigh of relief, but don’t worry, I’m not going far. I am going across M-24 to our sister paper The Lake Orion Review.
I couldn’t pass up an opportunity (with a little nudge from Assistant Publisher Don Rush) to further my journalism skills as co-editor at the Lake Orion newspaper.
Trust me, it wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve come to love the Clarkston community and the people in it. Many of you have let me into your homes and into your lives. We’ve not only talked about things relating to the latest story I was writing, but we discussed matters of family, faith, and community.
Even on the political side of the spectrum, where I’ve been known to hit right between the eyes at times, I believe all political leaders both City Council and Independence Township Board are well-intentioned folks.
As I said in the past, if I never questioned a decision made or challenged public officials on an issue, then I wouldn’t be doing my job.
Though I may be across town, I promise I will still be keeping an eye on what’s going on around here. I will be interested to see those who challenge for spots on the Independence Township Board.
I’m not only going to miss the Clarkston community, but I am also going to miss the wonderful staff at the CNews office. We’ve become like family over the past five years.
Whether it was deep conversations about life, laughing to the point of tears over an inside joke, or just each of us doing our part to put out a great paper, I’ve been proud to serve that office with each of you.
I’d like to thank my bosses, Editor Phil Custodio, Assistant Publisher Don Rush, and Publisher Jim Sherman, Jr. for pushing me and challenging me to the next level. Also, thanks to my wife, Noell, and my family for your understanding and encouragement.
Finally, I’d like to thank all my faithful readers who tuned in Keiser’s Role and my news bylines on a regular basis. Thank you Clarkston and God bless!

It was between 5:00 and 5:30 on June, 3 when I called my mom to let her know that I would be on my way home shortly It was then that she interupted me and said ‘Trev, we’re sitting in the Emergeny Room.?
When I had heard my dad was having pain in his chest and down his arm I quickly grabbed my stuff and rushed to Genysis hospital. In my panic
I called my sister in PA to let her know of the situaiton, though I didn’t have any details yet.
I was scared seeing my dad laying in that hospital bed, not knowing what exactly was wrong with him. Come to find out, dad had suffered from a heart attack.
My dad a heart attack? No way, my dad is Superman (Christopher Reeve) or at least that’s who he has been told he looks like.
I tried my best to hold back the tears, I wanted to be strong for him, I wanted to be strong for my mother, but ‘worst scenerio? thoughts filled my mind and tears flowed down my face. I was scared, I wasn’t ready for the possibility of losing my father at age 50.
After the doctors had performed angioplasty surgery and put a stent we found out my dad had 99 percent blockage in one of his arteries and 75 percent in another. He has to go back in four weeks to have the second stent put in.
My dad up to this point has excercised on a regular basis, and eats fairly healthy, doesn’t smoke or drink, how can he have a heart attack? It seems a mixture of cholesteral and stress had become my father’s kryptonite.
It’s looking back on those ’emergency situations? that cause you to think a little bit more. It’s in those moments that you don’t care about money, your job, your home or any material possession all you care about is that the person in the emergency is going to be alright, that they are going to pull through and they are going to come back home.
Realizing I could have lost my dad two weeks ago makes me more thankful each day that I wake up that I have another day to wrap my arms around him, give him a hug and tell him I love him.

As many of you know, the Independence Township Board meetings are videotaped by our good friends at the Clarkston Public Access Center and broadcast on your local government public access channel throughout the week.
Any of you who have attended any of the meetings or watched on your TV since the new board took office, probably have seen a few different television/ movie generes portrayed, such as comedy, drama, and even some mystery/suspense.
However, after attending two special meetings, I can tell you they are a completely different board when the cameras and audio aren’t rolling.
In fact they’ve even proven they get along with one another. They laugh and joke with one another, they listen to one another, and come to a common ground understanding on debatable discussions. I mean if you sat in a special meeting, you might even think they like one another.
What I want to know is why can they act like rational civilized human beings and accomplish something in a professional manner in a special meeting, but they can’t in a regular board meeting when the public is watching?
Are they worried the public won’t come to meetings or watch them on TV if they work as a team and get agenda items accomplished? Those are just a few of the questions I would liked answered.
One of the other things that has intrigued me has been this word ‘transparency.? One of the definitions Webster gives us is for the word transparent is ‘characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.?
I have heard it expressed on many occassions with this current board and yet the ones who have thrown it around, I believe haven’t lived up to it. If they claim transparency then why was there a closed session to discuss the disciplinary processes in the township’s employee personnel manual?
Why after that closed meeting was there such an urgency to get an HR director hired that it was discussed in a special meeting where the only person of the public that knows what was discussed was the Clarkston News?
Transparency is just a word that sounds good, maybe soon we’ll see the word actually ‘come to light? by our political leaders.

Five and half hours. Yes that’s right, five and half hours, that’s how long this past Independece Township meeting lasted and that was with items deleted from the agenda.
Why was it that long? Was the agenda overloaded? Yes. Should we maybe start earlier? Yes. Does every agenda item need at least a 45 minute discussion? No. Should board members talk less? YES!!!
I have absolutely no problem with asking questions on an item you are about to vote on. Obviously if you’re voting on something you need to ask vital questions, which will help you decide your vote. However, when it comes to giving your thoughts and opinion on the topic, make it short, sweet and to the point.
If you agree with something someone else said, simply say, ‘I agree.? If you have another point to add (the key word is ‘add?) to what they said, then make your point in a paragraph (that’s five sentences.) There is no need to rephrase everything the other person or persons just said. The audience already heard them, they want you to expand upon the thought, not rehash everything.
I personally think the board needs to look at their rules and policies again and perhaps limit board members to three minutes, just like audience members. Ask your questions, give a quick comment and vote. Some topics are just that easy. Other may involve some debate, but even that can be limited.
If the hierarchies of government can perform these tasks on much more complex issues, you can too. Sorry if I’m cranky, but I need my eight hours of sleep.
* * *
There has also been much debate as to whether trustees should give up their special meeting pay in order to save some money, or whether across the board both trustees and full-time should take a 20 percent paycut until January of 2010. Why not do both?
Trustees are paid $202 per regular meeting and $106 for special meetings. If trustees eliminated special meeting pay, this would save $2,544 in the next three months.
If they took a 20 percent pay cut, it would save an additional $3,888. That’s a total of $6,432. Doesn’t sound like much when you’re talking government money, but it does when you say ‘taxpayers money.? In today’s economy every penny counts. Now just imagine the cost savings if the full-time took 20 percent?

Merriam Webster gives three definitions for ‘Thanksgiving.? One: ‘The act of giving thanks.? Two: ‘A prayer expressing gratitude? and three: ‘A public acknowledgement or celebration divine goodness.?
An act of giving thanks can be as easy as looking someone in the eye and saying ‘thank you? or doing something special like buying a small gift of some sort or doing a deed to ‘repay? their kindness.
I know I always enjoy when my bosses shake my hand and say ‘Thank you and good job, keep it up.?
Like Webster, I think prayer is a great expression of gratitude, which connects us with the third definition because webster also defines the word ‘divine? as ‘of relating to or proceeding directly from God.?
I believe everyday is a gift from God and every good and perfect gift comes from Him. If you woke up this morning, it’s a blessing. If you have family members who love you, it’s a blessing. If you have a car that works, it’s a blessing. If you have a friend to talk to, it’s a blessing and the list could go on.
Despite all that is going on around us economically with unemployment rates, forelcosure rates, tax increases, and everything else, there is still plenty to be thankful for.
I often get a little emotional when I start thinking about all the things that I am thankful for. I am truly thankful for my family; I have two great parents and a great older sister. I am thankful for all my friends and how each one of them has touched my life in a special way.
I am thankful for my job at The Clarkston News and my fellow co-workers that are able to laugh and joke around a little bit.
I am thankful for the men and women who have died while fighting wars to preserve our freedom in this nation. And most of all, I am thankful to God for the many blessings he pours out daily.
I am glad that we are given a holiday entitled ‘Thanksgiving? so we can take a moment and remember what is most important to us. God bless you everyone.

Henry David Thoreau said ‘Politics is the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its opposite halves – sometimes split into quarters – which grind on each other. Not only individuals but states have thus a confirmed dyspepsia.?
I find it interesting that politics have taken over nearly every aspect of everyday life and political parties have divided us so much, it’s not even funny.
When you turn on the news and watch either Fox or CNN or listen to news radio stations, and hear almost anyone of the host argue, such and such a decision will give the republicans or the democrats the upper hand.
Whether it be the war, healthcare bill, or even the latest earthquake tragedy in Haiti. Politicians base their decisions it seems solely on the gain and status of whatever party they represent and how the decision will help or hurt their ‘political career.?
I am saddened that decisions are made on what is best for the democratic race, or the republic race, instead of what is good for the human race.
Richard Armour said ‘Politics, it seems for years, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.?
I honestly think a lot more good would be accomplished if political parties were set aside.
I understand saying you’re with one party or another differentiates you from the other guy or gal on what are considered ‘key issues,? but even a lot of those key issues I think could be agreed upon or shal I say compromised on if political leaders were truely looking out for the good of the people they serve.
Call me naive if you want but I still believe Democrats and Republicans will one day reach across the dividing line and shakes each other’s hand and say to one another ‘let’s work together and make decisions that will be for the good of all people? and actually mean it.
Pehaps the words ‘a government for the people? can ring true once again in the hearts of those who govern.

I’ve heard it said ‘love is a journey,? but how about a journey to find love.
After having a few girlfriends back in college and going on dates with a woman since then, but not finding what my heart was looking for, I decided to check out internet dating.
However, I did not go with the highly commercialized E-Harmoney, or Though I did check them out, I was not willing to ‘pay for love,? but instead, find it ‘for free.?
In my search for ‘the perfect girl,? I found many ‘prospects.? The problem was, none were close by. I chatted with a few, got a couple phone numbers and maybe talked a couple of times, but I throught ‘ahh they’re just too far, what’s the point.?
However, there was one girl from Georgia in particular who caught my attention. Her profile personality was somewhat similar to my own, her ‘ideal date,? was almost exactly what I put, and I saw we had similar core values and beliefs, so on July 12, I shot her a message, part of which said:
‘Hey, I know we’re like 16 hours apart, but we should go bowling or putt putt sometime.?
Much to my joy she responded. We corresponded little chitchat for six months. Finally in January she sent me a message ‘By the way…It’s only 12 hours from Lapeer Mich., to where I live… If only we could teleport :)?
After reading that, I decided to take a risk and ask her for her phone number. She gladly gave it to me. I called her on Jan. 13 and have been talking to her everyday since. On March 11, I decided to board a plane to Atlanta, Georgia. I can say it was one of the best risks I’ve ever taken.
Ms. Jenny Tuggle is a true ‘Southern Belle,? or shall I say a true ‘Georgia Peach,? she even says theater pronounced like ‘thee ATE her,? which makes me laugh everytime.
Jenny is an absolute joy to be around and has added a spring to my step and bigger smile to my face. Beyond her beautiful hazel eyes, her sweet smile, and her amazing personality, she has a heart for loving God and loving people.
I’m proud to say, Trevor Keiser is no longer single. After much prayer and patients, I’ve found a girl to love, I just had to fly to Georgia to meet her.

During budget cuts last year, Independence Township Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen felt like the ‘sacrificial lamb.?
‘I feel I’m being unduly focused when there is other people (departments) who should pony up a little bit,? she said at the Dec. 15 public hearing.
I am all for being fair and I agree certain departments could use some cuts in personnel, just like the building department, which went from 11 staff members down to four.
Sometimes I think the clerk’s office could use more trimming. Township taxpayers pay someone $200 a meeting to write minutes. This equals about $4,800 a year. There is also a deputy clerk who puts the agendas together. Let’s not forget, the board approved an electronic records retention program which cost $400 to setup, $300 a month, and $40 a month for five gigabytes of storage. What does the clerk have to do for her paycheck?
I know government, left on its own, just grows and grows, but . . . Shelagh VanderVeen campaigned the township clerk could work parttime, for half the pay. What happened to that campaign promise?
On Dec. 21, VanderVeen once again said she was giving up more than other departments, an innocent lamb being led to the slaughter.
I don’t think the clerk is the one being slaughtered, but she certainly is one of the ones sharpening an axe. Read a comment Little BoPeep made at the April 6 board meeting, during discussion of outsourcing the building and planning department and then tell me who has blood on their axe.
‘I’m going to say something and I’m not going to make any friends here tonight, but my whole thing has always been what’s best for this township,? Vanderveen said. ‘I have been here for five-and-a-half years. For the first four, I would say we didn’t really have our building director present. We had our assistant building director running the department ??
Talk about throwing somebody under the bus. I think that was uncalled for. The question on the table wasn’t if the director was present or doing his job, it was should the township outsource the department.
It was not a personnel hearing, nor an evaluation of an individual’s performance. Those things are usually done behind closed doors.
But, a point of reference . . . If someone is not ‘present? at their desk, it doesn’t mean they’re not doing their job. Heck, if you come by my office, there are days when I am not there. Why?
Because I am out interviewing, taking pictures, or having to hunt down public officials to get information. And another thing, since moving into the new building, I’ve noticed the clerk is not as ‘present? as she was at 90 N. Main. Were I to use her logic, I would assume she’s not doing her job. That would be wrong of me, as it was of her.
Our elected officials seem to be making decisions based on personal feelings. This is so wrong.
So, I pose this challenge to you: Stop playing the little lost lamb; stop leading others to the slaughter. Stop the finger pointing. Look in the mirror and start doing what is right

A few weeks ago. I sent an e-mail to the Independence Township Clerk’s office requesting information concerning healthcare per Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
I knew the only way I would receive this information would be through ‘formal request.?
Well the ‘free? information I asked for came with a price tag of $24. Thirteen of those dollars were used to make me a copy of 26 pages at 50 cents a page. The other $11 were for a half hour of time. It took to make those copies.
What I find interesting is I electronically sent in my request, but my request was granted to me in paper format. I find that interesting because the clerk’s office has probably been the biggest advocate of the use of electronics and going paperless. Everything from paperless agendas to record retention programs.
Not to mention every two weeks I get a board packet e-mailed to me with anywhere between 60 to 200 some pages. Some of which were scanned pieces of paper.
So why is the clerk’s office so quick to hand out stacks of papers with a FOIA request? Is it because it’s a nice way to gain a few extra bucks?
I know it doesn’t cost that much. According to Office Depot website I can get a ream of copy paper (500 sheets) for $5.29 that equals 11 cents a page. I can get 2,500 sheets for $23.29, which equals 0.009 cents a page.
There is what is known as the ‘spirit of the law,? which says ‘we desire to be open, honest, and show complete transparency by allowing anyone who asks for information which is public.?
Then there is the ‘letter of the law,? which says ‘we have the right to charge you up to x amount for copies of anything you ask for and as well as the time it took to gather the information and copy it for you.?
The letter of the law doesn’t really show a township that’s willing to be completely honest and open. Instead it says ‘our transparency will come with a price tag.? What if someone doesn’t have an extra $24. Do they receive a sweet smile with the response ‘sorry Charlie??
Perhaps the clerk’s office should rethink the FOIA policy in place, save some trees, and truly become open, honest, and completely transparent.

I took a trip to Georgia Memorial Day weekend to once again see my ‘Georgia Peach.? The trip resulted in me no longer just being in a relationship, but now I’m engaged to get married.
I knew when I came home after my first trip in March, she was my wife to be. It was just a matter of time, to come up with the money for the ring, ask her father for his blessing, and ‘pop the question.?
I thought I wasn’t going to be able to propose until sometime in the fall when I got the ring paid off. However, the saleman at ‘Every Kiss Begins with Kay? was very accommodating.
I put a down payment on the ring and bought an insurance plan, so I didn’t have wait until I paid it off.
Wondering how I proposed? While eating Taco Bell with a friend one night, I grabbed a few packets of hot sauce, one of which said ‘Will You Marry Me??
It was there I had an epiphany and knew I wanted to incorporate the hot sauce packet into the proposal.
With a mutual love for Taco Bell, Jenny and I had a ‘Taco Bell Picnic? in a park lined up for Saturday, May 29. Having already asked her father for his blessing earlier that morning and with the ring burning a hole in my pocket, I was ready to take a knee.
Since Jenny is pretty good at figuring things out, I tried my best to throw her off. I handed her a ‘Premier Jewelry? box that looked as if it contained a necklace or bracelet. Inside however was a handful of ‘Will You Marry Me? hot sauce packets.
It was then I pulled the ring box from my pocket got on one knee, looked her in the eyes, spoke a few heart felt words and asked the question. She said “yes” and has made me the happiest man on earth.
If you would have told me a year ago I would have a girlfriend and two months later a fiancee, I probably would have laughed at you. God has once again shown his faithfullness to me and given a blessing beyond measure.

The Fourth of July parade through downtown Clarkston once again proved to be a success with 114 floats. Suprisingly it ended in an hour and a half. The last parade we had filled with political candidates went for two hours.
Following the parade I headed on over to Independence Township Hall for the flag raising ceremony. It was quite a sight to see that 10-by-15 Old Glory flag raised by World War II Veteran George Thompson.
I would like to send a special thanks to the Independence Township Firefighters for all their great donation to the township as well as to the American Legion and all those involved who made the ceremony and everything happen.
I was however, very disappointed near the end of the ceremony when a voice from the crowd cried out ‘Recall Wagner.? Though I applaude the efforts of all of those who put in their time and effort into the recall, that was not the proper place nor the proper time to say such a thing.
When approached and asked to leave the scene because she was being rude the woman simply replied ‘freedom of speech.? The event had nothing to do with Wagner. He gave a quick ‘thank you? speech as any normal politician would do at such an event.
Now, I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of days and here’s what I’ve come up with. Freedom, no matter what kind of freedom, comes with responsibility. When a 16-year-old is given his license, he now has the ‘freedom to drive? by the state and by his parents. But that freedom comes with the responsibility of driving safely. Though I personally don’t condone drinking, the age of 21 allows the ‘freedom to drink? responsibily.
All of our freedoms come at a cost and with a measure of responsiblity on our part. I think it’s important we realize we cannot just say and do whatever we please when and how we please. We must think before we act and consider each situation as to whether it is the proper time to say or do something.
‘People demand freedom of speech as compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.? – Soren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher.

On May 23, 1990 there was record turnout of 385 voters. A 71-vote difference transformed Clarkston Village into a city (228 voted ‘yes? and 157 voted ‘no?).
For the past few weeks, I have read Clarkston News archives from the 1990’s. After reading stories and letters to the editor, the two main reasons stated for becoming a city was to ‘protect? historic homes and downtown from the big, bad developing bully, also known as Independence Township. Secondly, the people wanted to ‘have a voice.?
As was pointed out in ‘Cory calls for dissolving city? (Aug 25 2010) there are other ways to protect the history of Clarkston without having a seperate government to do it.
As far as ‘your voice.? Millage rates for library, fire department, and now police services are all controlled by the township and township voters, which leaves you with no voice on critical services that are worth something. Not to mention assessing is handled by the Oakland County.
The reason for paying twice as much in taxes is to have your own little government that controls when the grass is cut and the streets are plowed? Doesn’t make much sense to me, when every other truck that drives down the road has a plow on the front. Not to forget city residents who have raised their hands at public meetings and stated on the record they would volunteer to mow the grass in Depot Park.
Should the city dissolve? My answer is ‘yes.? When you were a Village you had a greater voice than you do now, because you could actually vote on township services and township officials.
However, I think a further step needs to be taken. Let’s get rid of ‘Independence Township? and become either ‘Clarkston Township? or one big ‘City of Clarkston.?
My mother graduated from Clarkston High School. If you asked her where she was from she said ‘Clarkston.? She originally lived on Heathe Avenue off Maybee Road, then they moved to Allen Road, both located in ‘Independence Township, but the answer to the question is still ‘Clarkston.?
Besides, if you say ‘Independence Township? beyond the neighboring communities no one knows what you’re talking about, but Clarkston is the name people know.
This prideful attitude between the ‘City of the Village of Clarkston? and ‘Independence Township,? is just plain silly.
American Author, philosopher, and theologian Dr. Howard Thurman said ‘Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.?
So, stop charging higher taxes for duplicative services and let down the walls that seperate.
Now is your time to not let your community be defined by its name, but by the people who live in it. It’s time to be CLARKSTON

I’ve had a few weeks to think about my last column about dissolving the city and making it part of Independence Township, along with considering the thoughts of those who have written letters to the editor, and various conversations I’ve had since then.
I still believe dissolving the city would be the best choice. No matter how you look at it, I can’t justify paying twice as much in taxes for an extra layer of government who controls lawn mowing and grass cutting.
I know one letter writer said the debate ‘can’t be just dollars and cents decision, it has to be based on us keeping our own identity.?
What is your identity? If your identity is simply the historic homes and building within the village, I have no problem keeping a sign that says ‘Village of Clarkston? marking that people are entering the historic part of the town.
As far as votes ‘being swallowed up? by the township, they already are swallowed up. All critical services are controlled by Independence, and city residents have no vote. If the city becomes part of the township, every vote would be counted equally.
Another letter writer said they were all for getting rid of an extra layer of government, but disagreed with dropping the name, “Independence Township.”
The issue I have with the name is the lack of originality. Mr. Joseph Van Sycle, who named it in 1834, named it after the place he came from. Pretty lame.
But naming a town after the first settlers, such as the Clark brothers, well, that’s a little more original thinking and brings significance to it. Besides “Clarkston” just has a nice ring to it.
As far as both names ‘coexisting,? I don’t think that works either. Keeping both names still suggest separation, and turf war like mindedness, the idea is to become ‘one community.?
Those interested in hearing more about it, tune into Clarkston411 on Thurs, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m., for a discussion featuring city resident and former councilman Cory Johnston and city resident and former township resident Michael Sabol, hosted by editor Phil Custodio.

Since May, Independence Township Trustee Dave Lohmeier has asked for the 2009 audit deficiencies to be fixed.
Lohmeier was basically told by Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen at the Oct. 5 meeting that his request would just have to wait because the Finance Director Susan Hendricks was going to be out ‘for the next couple weeks? due to surgery.
Now, why didn’t the clerk let the board know ahead of time, so they could get someone to cover for Hendricks while she’s gone? VanderVeen says demands one her office have become ‘untenable.?
As she was speaking, I was expecting a conductor to come to the front to cue the violins and lead the choir in VanderVeen’s number one hit single ‘Woe Is My Department.?
Her reasons things are ‘untenable? is because of the upcoming election, they are not done balancing taxes and have day-to- day operations to do like paying bills. Well, I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t start writing checks until I balance my checkbook and know how much money I have.
I don’t blame Hendricks for not having these things done because apparently, she gets called on more than she should. VanderVeen ? relies on Susan for other things too,? like helping with balancing the ballots during the election.
Last time I checked, elections had nothing to do with finances other than how much money it cost for the election. Therefore, the finance director shouldn’t be involved. Oh and not to mention the clerk hires around 100 polls workers, the day of the election and an extra full-time and part-time worker to help out in the ‘election department? weeks before the election.
Unfortunately, the Supervisor is out on medical leave as well. Who is covering his position and duties while he is out? Anyone?
Now, I am not particularly fond of hiring a bunch of extras to do the jobs of those elected, because I think the township does that too much already (Human Resource Director, and bringing in John Lamerato from Troy to help with the budget.)
However, if a worker is out sick and you know it’s going to be more than a couple days, then don’t be afraid to ask if someone can be brought in to cover the position and keep things moving forward until such person returns. Stop making excuses why things aren’t done.

Some of you might have seen the last Independence Township Board meeting. They had a conversation regarding lifetime healthcare for the three elected official, the supervisor, clerk, and treasurer.
The discussion was rather interesting.
Trustees voted 5-2 to extend the requirement to qualify for lifetime healthcare for the three full-time elected positions from eight years to 16 years, or four terms of office.
Now I heard everything from ‘we don’t get paid that much and benefits are OK? ($70,000-$80,000 a year including benefits sounds good to me) to comparing local politicians to state and federal government politicians.
As the discussion was going on one phrase came to my head ‘civic duty.? I believe politicians have gotten away from what this really means. Your time in office is meant to be a public service, not a career.
As many were for the option of extending the years even beyond 16, I have to agree with Trustee Mark Petterson, I don’t think elected officials should get any perk beyond their time in office.
Is this too be cold-hearted and mean? No, it’s more like ‘welcome to the real world.?
Politicians constantly want to compare running government to running a business.
Well, guess what, the business world has changed. The days of pensions and perks are disappearing fast, just ask my dad who retired from General Motors.
Not too mention our forefather Thomas Jefferson set a great example. When he finished his presidency at the White House, he went back home to the farm and picked up where he left off.
I look at serving in office as I do serving in the military, it’s a sacrifice. Once your time is done, the government healthcare is no more, unless you served 20 years. Otherwise you might get a hand shake with ‘thanks for serving your country,? and perhaps walk away with a few battle scars and couple medals.
In the words of President John Kennedy, ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.?

Many of you probably remember the song ‘To every season turn, turn turn…? sung by both the Byrds and the Beatles. Some of you may even know this song is actually taken from the Bible. Ecclesiastes 3, ‘There is a time for everything and every season under heaven.?
I have noticed the weather starting to change once again. It’s been getting darker earlier at outside, it’s only 5 p.m. and it feel like 8 p.m. The sun is not rising as early in the morning anymore, either.
The air has cooled off more in the night, reaching freezing temperatures which are signs that fall is ending and winter is coming.
I am not one who likes the changing of the seasons. I become quite the ‘humbug Scrooge? in winter. I rather it stay summer year around. But I know the changing of the physical seasons is like the changing seasons of our lives.For example we would not appreciate the warmth of summer if we did not experience the cold of winter.
We would not appreciate the blossoming of spring if we did not experience the death of fall, just like we wouldn’t understand joy if we didn’t know sorrow. Or how could we understand love if we did not know hate.
The seasons of our lives help us grow, the help shape who we are and who we will become. It’s learning how to embrace each season that we are in, taking it one day at a time, because every new day is one day closer to the changing of the season.
We have no more power over the seasons of our lives than we do the weather outside.
I believe God uses the seasons to show us how we need to trust Him no matter the weather rain, snow, sunshine, or cloudy. No matter the circumstance happy, sad, mad, or hurt.
The seasons expand our faith, they help give us the proper perspective that we can’t remain in the same season we are in forever, but we need to be ready for the change that is about to take place.
The time has come to put on your sweat shirt and have your winter coat, hat and gloves close by. We can’t look back at what was, but look ahead at what is, and what will, knowing that summer will return. And when it does we will have a greater appreciation of the warmth it brings after the cold of winter.

The other night I sat down with my family to watch Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol? (we like the George C. Scott version).
As I sat there watching, it got me thinking, what it would be like if the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future paid me a visit? Would I like what was revealed of my life?
When I reflect upon my past I am filled with great memories, but there are definitely some things I wish I would have done differently. I wondered what the outcome would have been if I would have made a different choice in certain circumstances. Of course the lessons of the past can help me in my present and future.
I understand not everyone has had a ‘pleasant past,? but I do not think one can move forward until they’ve come to terms with their past, both good or bad and living in ‘the good ole days? doesn’t benefit your present or get you an further ahead.
Despite the present circumstances of a down economy, highest unemployment rate, crime increase, and everything else that seems terrible. I still believe there is joy to be found in every day. A simple gesture of kindness or ‘goodwill towards men? can go a long way.
Does that mean being cheerful is going to magically make the economy start up, or get you that job you’ve hoping for? Not necessarily, but the domino affect of a good attitude is amazing.
As far as the future, well like the past I think it’s not something to cling on to, but it is important to have a hope and a vision.
Do you think if you were able to see into the future you would like the person you became or do you need to change the course of your present to make way for a better and brighter future?
As you sit down to celebrate Christmas with your family take a few minutes to evaluate your life may you ‘live in the spirit? of past, present and future and not shut out the lessons they teach, but like Scrooge ‘honor Christmas in your heart and try to keep it all year long.?

Last week was a busy news week for me at the Clarkston News. Monday was a typical late night, little sleep deadline night, which led into Tuesday night ‘fun? at the Independence Township board meeting.
Actually it was rather calm and I was thinking they were going to end the night in peace at about 9 p.m., but then it happened. A topic came up which stirred emotion not only in board members, but me as well.
I heard four key things: Letters from State Treasury Department; Possible 25 percent state shared revenue loss; Trustees didn’t know about it; and TOWNSHIP HALL.
I flinched in my seat and thought to myself, ‘oh no, not another Township Hall issue. Isn’t this dead horse beaten enough yet?? Apparently not, because everytime I think all matters concerning the purchase of the new building are over, something else comes up. That’s OK, though, because I consider all these big debatable topics as job security (for more information, read the story on page 4A.)
Just when I thought I had enough news on my plate for the week, I found out Wednesday Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen decided to resign. I certainly wasn’t expecting that, five days into the new year and half way through her term.
Those who have read my previous columns know I have come down pretty hard on Mrs. VanderVeen in the past. Though I have not always agreed with every decision she has made or every statement she has said, I still feel bad she is resigning.
The only time I agree someone should resign from their position is if it’s for health reasons, they can’t do the job, or they just simply aren’t doing the job.
I may not have always liked the cost of everything, because I felt there was a cheaper way to accomplish the same thing, but I did like the ideas she implemented that saved time.
For example the ‘paperless agenda? that gets e-mailed every two weeks. It’s easier to store a PDF file than find room in a filing cabinet.
Whether it be more for personal or more health related, I wish Mrs. VanderVeen well in her future days.

Comments are closed.