Former supervisor named to Plymouth board
Nov. 8, 2015 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
Plymouth Township officials voted unanimously last week on the appointment of Steve Mann to the unexpired term of trustee Kay Arnold who died earlier this month. Mann formerly served terms as a board trustee and supervisor in the township. He has reportedly said he will serve only until Arnold’s term ends in November of 2016 and will not seek election to the board.
The unanimous vote came after wrangling during a one-hour session during which several residents in attendance expressed hopes of a different manner and criteria for the selection.
Supervisor Shannon Price explained the selection plan starting with an endorsement for Mann, who was conspicuously absent from the meeting. Price said that Mann, an attorney with the Miller Canfield law firm, had a previous employment commitment.
Mann served as township supervisor from 2000-2004. In 2004 he was elected to serve a four-year term as a trustee and re-elected in 2008 for a second term which continued through 2012, when he opted not to seek re-election.
Mann, who began his employment career as a Plymouth Township police officer, earned his law degree while employed with the township.
Trustee Chuck Curmi noted that he was not in favor of Mann’s appointment.
“Mann is not my first choice because I want new thinking. Ron (Treasurer Ron Edwards),
I’m a little pained by your number one (Mann). If you want consensus, I’ll do it.”
Clerk Nancy Conzelman offered the motion to approve Mann’s appointment while Curmi and Trustee Bob Doroshewitz suggested a poll of public opinion after shout-outs from audience members peppered the discussion.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in letting the public speak,” Doroshewitz said.
After some discussion, Price was persuaded to allow public comment, limited to 30 seconds for each resident.
Doroshewitz had suggested the appointment of the fifth-place finisher in the 2012 primary election, Jennifer Mann. He suggested her appointment would bring some diversity of opinion to the board and would provide representation to a greater cross section of the township.
His suggestion found no support from the other board members.
“I don’t think the board’s dynamic will change with this,” Doroshewitz said of Mann’s appointment. I don’t feel good about it now,” he said.
Edwards, who was historically aligned with Mann, argued with Doroshewitz that he (Mann) was the best choice.
“He has the knowledge of what the township is doing, OK? Our business is between us here,” Edwards said, suggesting that public input was inappropriate.
In 2004, Mann, then serving as trustee, headed an advisory committee to build a new $12 million Township Hall and fire station, training facility and living quarters. By a 4-3 vote, despite residents’ strong protests, board members approved the purchase of the 9-acre property from a local car dealer for the new township facility.
At that time, Mann defended the decision to proceed without putting the issue in front of voters. He cited other projects he was involved with without voter approval, including a new fire station, the DPW building and a $100 million sewer facility. “Each was built without a vote,” he said in 2004. Mann claimed there was a need for more space, saying the facilities didn’t reflect, “the pride we take in our community…”
Mann publicly referred to a citizens’ petition effort with 4,000 signatures as “frivolous” when residents wanted a vote on a 1-mill dedicated tax to fund the fire department. The board members refused to acknowledge the petitions and were subsequently forced to place the issue on a ballot by a Circuit Court decision. Rather than the 1-mill petitioners requested, however, the board members hiked the millage ballot question to 10 mills, a legal maneuver to ensure the defeat of the question.
In another major business matter that involved Mann, attorneys representing the township filed for the reconsideration last June in the Michigan Court of Appeals seeking to overturn a lower court decision that ordered the township to return 190 acres of land, part of a 323-acre parcel formerly known as the Detroit House of Corrections, to the city. The land dispute has been in court since the Detroit bankruptcy filing in 2013.
In August 2011, the board agreed to an Installment Purchase Agreement, drafted by Mann on Miller Canfield letterhead, to purchase the former DeHoCo prison property for $606,150. Mann abstained from voting on the purchase agreement, “to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”