Clerk’s conduct irks editor

Apr. 2, 2013  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.




By: Susan Willett, Publisher

Associated Newspapers of Michigan


Election to public office does not excuse rudeness.


Last week, we were appalled at the account of one of our staff members of the treatment he received from newly-elected Plymouth Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman. We understand that the job of municipal clerk in any community is a tough one. It really is. We are usually the first to agree that nobody ever gives these people the credit they deserve for the workload they carry and the responsibility thrust upon them. We also believe that most of them have no concept of the seriousness or importance of their job until they have been in office through at least one election.

But that does not excuse rudeness, particularly not as performance art.

Our staff member was attempting to obtain information regarding the response times of the fire department to the blaze at an apartment complex last week. He had turned in the written request as instructed, and was sent by the fire chief to the clerk’s office, where Conzelman took the time to “educate” him about the proper submission of Freedom of Information Act requests. She was, by her own admission, sarcastic and took a scathing tone in her explanation of the procedures, telling our staff member to “Read my lips” and that she did not “look like the police department.”

All uncalled for, in our opinion, but Conzelman, now solidly aligned with several officials whose mistakes we have made public, wanted to make it clear that her conduct was biased, because, “you’re not nice to us.”

Being nice to her, or those in the township who have bungled a property purchase to the tune of $600,000, can’t get a $2 million water tower to work and who have threatened the very lives of residents by gutting the fire department out of political revenge is not our job. See, we can be sarcastic, too.

Our job is to report conduct like that listed above. Our job is to look over the shoulder of elected officials and report on their actions. Our job is to provide our readers with information about dangerous fire staffing levels, the misspending of tax funds and the con- duct of public officials. It is not our job to be “nice” although we almost always try to be nice while doing our job.

Conzelman is, perhaps, following the example of Township Treasurer Ron Edwards who has repeatedly been the subject of news stories as he accosts other elected officials, shouts at residents and insults audience members at meetings. We certainly hope that she has not opted to emulate his outrageous conduct.

Municipal service, despite what many think, is hard work. Particularly these days, when so many are working with such reduced revenues, still attempting to provide service the best way they can find.

Many of these people listen to complaints from residents all day, nearly every day. They get called names, blamed for things over which they have no control, and called to task for situations far out of their frame of responsibility.

A municipal clerk, city manager, elected supervisor, treasurer or mayor doesn’t have an easy job. They face difficult and expansive challenges and responsibilities far beyond those obvious to the residents they serve.

To perform their jobs well, they need a unique combination of qualifications, including life and professional experience, education and a particular skill set.

Rudeness is not included. |News Plymouth Michigan

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