Township trustee decries lack of transparency
May 3, 2014 PLYMOUTH VOICE.
Plymouth Michigan News
It all started last May when Plymouth Township Trustee Bob Doroshevitz apparently had enough of Treasurer Ron Edwards’ arrogance and lack of transparency. That attitude first manifested weeks before when the trustee resigned from his volunteer task of heading up the annual fireworks and barbecue. When he couldn’t get financial records of contributions and spending from Edwards, he decided it was time to protect himself from any hint of financial impropriety and leave the job to someone else who could live with the current state of record keeping.
He asked reasonable questions, made viable arguments and stated his opposition to this spending plan in the face of Edwards’ insults, demeaning attitude and rudeness. Not to put to fine a point on it, but Edwards has been ruling the other trustees by intimidation for some time. It took courage to stand up to this bully and his wing man, Supervisor Richard Reaume.
Doroshewitz and other trustees continually say that the financial information they requested has not been forthcoming and that they have not been informed of any corrective action taken in the clerk’s office as recommended by the auditors.
Last year Plymouth Township officials were cited by the outside auditors for problems with deficiencies in bank reconciliations and the handling of drug forfeiture funds. The auditors described the township procedures as weak, highlighted a discrepancy of $37,606 and cited perceived problems with the bank reconciliation process.
In December, Doroshewitz expressed concern that the opinions of township residents may not be taken into consideration with regard to a new township recreation center proposed by Township Treasurer Ron Edwards. Board members recently approved a $13 million spending plan and announced that $1.9 million in bonds were sold to help pay for recreation expenditures.
Further evidence surfaced in January, when the application for Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP) funding administered through the Michigan Department of Treasury and awards funding based on fulfillment of three criteria-Accountability and Transparency, Consolidation of Services and Employee Compensation submitted by Plymouth Township was riddled with falsehoods and erroneous information.
Remember, these are the same people who refused to allow residents to vote on a millage question to fund a fire department. This is the township, under this leadership, that now depends on a skeleton crew of firefighters and an Ann Arbor-based ambulance company. These are the guys who have jeopardized the safety of every single home, business and resident within the township borders because they claimed they couldn’t afford to fund a full-time professional fire department.
Doroshewitz continues to expose the board’s lack of leadership and transparency and express his contempt for their willful disrespect for public opinion in a regular blog.
There will always be outliers and critics and there are few public opinion polls on local issues. An outspoken minority does not always represent a majority view. Some will always see bad in anything you do, but most didn’t start out that way. You created the monster and you keep feeding it. Many Townships hold annual meetings, where vision and objectives are laid out months or years in advance, before any action is taken and where the public has ample time to deliberate and weigh in. Major projects do not come as surprises, where they are introduced and voted on in the same meeting. Public input may be sought many ways, through focus groups and by promoting a culture of open dialogue where the public isn’t treated like the enemy every time they disagree. In this day of social media, many communities take input and answer questions directly on-line, a shining example of transparency in government. But when you have no annual meetings; no responses to letters, email and hone calls; and residents are discouraged from asking questions at Board meetings, then you are creating a perception that you cannot be trusted, that you have to be watched like children and that you don’t care what your constituents want. Fair or not, that is what you have created and is what you deserve.
Bob Doroshewitz- May 3, 2014