To June 30, 2010
On this page you will see personal opinions expressed that may or may not be representative of those of other individuals or groups. Some will be triggered by events, actions, observations — or perhaps pent-up frustrations. Some of you will agree — some of you will disagree — some of you will simply exit. Please remember that what you are reading here are opinions. Whatever your reaction, thank you for taking the time to at least give a look.
Note: The oldest articles are at the bottom of this page.
24. Office Budget
Does the township have a budget for the normal operating expenses of their office? In the past year, there have been more than 12 Special Requests to the Board of Trustees, averaging about $90, for what are standard office expenditures. These include toner (4 requests), paper, general office supplies, postage, batteries, as well as other office related items. In addition to those, requests were made for repair or replacement of equipment — a necessity not unusual in light of the life span of today's electronic equipment.
These trivial requests to the Board are unnecessary, waste the Board's time and are a distraction to more important things. It is standard for any business to have an office budget that covers these items with an office manager responsible for the day-to-day operational expenditures. Does our township follow normal business standards? [Foolish question!] These items should only appear before the Board as part of the Bills & Claims Report and not as special requests.
It is not unreasonable to have such a budget with these normal expenses handled within, and without fanfare. The current method gives the appearance of failure to plan, as well as a lack of awareness of what it takes to run an office. Our Clerk has repeatedly voiced concerns regarding a lack of planning and been on the case of over-budget areas. She should probably look closer to home, and clean up her own act first.
It is suggested that the Trustees insist that a specific budget be put in place for office operations (possibly combined with the entire building budget) with due considerations toward ALL reasonably anticipated needs for the fiscal year. One area of the budget should include provision for planned replacement and upgrading of equipment in the future so that these costs can be spread out over time. This would make life more streamlined for all concerned. An "Office Manager" (or Hall Manager) would be given the responsibility AND TRUST to administer that budget on a day-to-day basis. Of all those to choose from, Erika is probably the most competent to take on this role.
With the Board of Trustee's Special Budget Meeting date looming, there is time for this issue to be addressed. The taxpayers deserve its due consideration.
23. Political Agenda On The Move
The word is out. (see "News" item) A recall process has been initiated against the Township Supervisor, Patrick Pokorski.
For the past several months, and in fact going back to the previous election, there has been a faction that has made life miserable for the Supervisor. It all stems from the fact that the wrong person got elected. To complicate things, the previous Supervisor failed in his election bid at the state level. In retribution for this misdirected destiny, the Old Boys Club has worked overtime to sabotage our Township Supervisor in his every move.
The Township Board of Trustees has a long standing reputation of foot dragging, stonewalling, stalling and achieving little while at the same time generating red tape to frustrate local citizens. Being family or friend would open up the township treasury. The current Supervisor, upon his arrival, was immediately confronted by these traits. Any attempt he made to move things forward and get something — anything done, was met by challenge. They resented the fact that he continually was out in the community promoting the township. He was showing the others up!
The township "trees" issue was a lightning rod event that provided the dissenters with the ammunition to escalate their tactics. The opportunity to neuter the undesirable was before them. If successful, there would be 2 distinct benefits to the Old Boys Club. Recall would most certainly eliminate Pat Pokorski from his state level bid, while at the same time opening up the Supervisor's position for a member of the "family". As you can see, this has very little to do with the actions of the current Supervisor, it is all about looking after the interests of the family.
As this process moves forward, local voters have some work to do and personal decisions to make. In the interest of fairness and political honesty, take the time to carefully assess the events of the past 1½ years and put everything into perspective. In effect, you become a juror in someone's political career. Were his actions those of a responsible community minded citizen attempting to do good things — or was the individual simply a rogue functioning with total disregard for his community.
Since the recall issue is on the table, perhaps expanding the scope might be appropriate. The Township Clerk's ethics have been called into question along with concerns about her other behaviors. Perhaps she should be considered for recall as well. Since the Township will have to cover the cost of the recall vote, perhaps we could have a 2 for 1 deal.
22. Job Description: Mommy's Helper ... aka Deputy Clerk
As pointed out elsewhere on this site, Monday's Board of Trustees Meeting drew attention to the new budget item pertaining to a Deputy Clerk at $7000. Questioning identified the "appointed" individual to be none other than the Clerk's own daughter. Curious! How convenient for the omnipotent one who creates the budget to slip that entry in — giving her more access to the township cookie jar.
Yes, she has the right (she claims to have checked with MTA) to appoint her little one to such a position. One might also wonder what else has she checked into that could produce similar family benefit. Is there actually a need for such a position at a $7000 price tag? At a time when township revenues are dropping and little happening on the new development front, is it really appropriate? We are also seeing a dramatic increase in occurrences of Township payment requests being delayed or denied due to challenges led by the Clerk. It seems like she is spending too much time in the face of the Supervisor (as well as others) and being the proverbial brick wall. Perhaps she should just focus on being Clerk and there would be no need for a deputy. It would be appropriate for Township Board to take steps to clip her wings.
21. Basketball Hoops
As first noted in the April 12, 2010 Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, a question/request was made by a young gentleman regarding outdoor facilities at the Township Hall for playing basketball.
Presque Isle Township has a lot to offer the community in the form of leisure activities. We have parks, hiking, hunting, fishing, playgrounds, scenery and lots of special events. What you see in this list is things to do for families, children, adults and visitors to the community. What you don't see, is much to offer our youths.
Our youth and younger adult population is one with lots of energy and they need areas to burn this off. When they find time on their hands, they require an outlet that is affordable, convenient, acceptable, and beneficial to them as individuals. We all know what can happen when such is not available. Just read the local newspapers.
The request for basketball hoops at the Township Hall was honorable and having such a facility would be an asset. To make it available, would be a statement to our underserviced segment — that they are an important part of our community.
It was disappointing to see that the Parks and Recreation Committee and Trustee Morrison "didn't think it was a good idea due to liability and safety concerns". Chicken Little is alive and well in Presque Isle. These concerns exist with everything that our community offers and should not apply to any greater degree to basketball hoops. Perhaps it is more a case of paranoia regarding the perceived groups that would use the facilities. Trustees have demonstrated that trait previously (October 12, 2009) upon the request for hall use for a group of 16 year olds. Note: That event ultimately, was highly successful.
A full basketball court would be nice, but is not needed or even appropriate. Perhaps a modest concrete pad located on the east side of the Township Hall with a single hoop mounted on the building wall would be a good starting point. An overhead floodlight might also be included that would provide players with 30 minutes of light upon request. Perhaps, rather than looking for alternate locations, additional locations should be sought.
Trustee Morrison, you missed an opportunity. This was (and still is) a chance for you to grab the ball and run with it. It is suggest that this issue be re-visited as it would be a worthy project for you to place your shoulder behind.
20. Spring/Summer Newsletter
The 2010 Spring/Summer Newsletter for Presque Isle Township has been published and is available in the Township Information area on this website. It is also posted on the Township website, although the Newsletter did experience some technical presentation issues there when first posted.
It is a very informative document and shows that our Township is making a serious attempt to keep the citizens current regarding local issues and happenings. The inclusion of reports from community organizations greatly enhances its value.
One noteworthy report is that of the Zoning Administrator regarding township ordinances. It provides meaningful information regarding enforcement and the filing of complaints. We like to think that this information was included (at least in part) because of the our editorial of March 7, 2010 on By-Law (Non)Enforcement. Had that information been provided to us in March (as we invited), it would have been available here much sooner.
The newsletter makes several references to our most valuable of natural resources, our volunteers. These are the individuals who keep the community alive and achieve all of those things that require our tender loving care. Although you are asked to add your name to the volunteer list at the Township Offices, do not feel that this is mandatory. It is strictly to provide a means of communication for project notification. For those who prefer not to formally sign up, your contributions will still be most welcome.
In the report from the Township Clerk, the topic of the State Park Passport was addressed. Although the details were mainly in "Lansing-ese", good information was provided for those willing and able to wade through it. Unfortunately, most readers will bail early in the report. Many of the details are of little interest. Perhaps, the Clerk would like to submit to us a summarized version that the average person could digest — and we would be pleased to post it. It is a topic that many in our community would be interested in.
We are now officially into the Summer Season and not only has Mother Nature come up to speed, but we are seeing the visitor crop growing. Great strides have been made with spit & polish applied throughout the community. Let us all promote our area and get out and enjoy all that it has to offer.
19. Report Card — Supervisor Pokorski
Patrick is new to his role (as of the last election), but definitely not new to township operations. When taking over the Supervisor's position, his hope was to apply some grease to the way things were done and reduce the delays and wheel spinning that had become a way of life within township government. Unfortunately, he inherited a system with slip-shod record keeping, incomplete procedures and accountability, and fellow trustees unwilling (or unable) to move productively forward.
A major strength of Pat is that he reaches out to the local population by attending various community activities, speaking to groups and talking up all aspects of the township. He is accessible to individuals — always available for the one-on-one conversation where real communication takes place. He goes to the people and does not hide from them.
Pat is also a "git-ur-done" individual. When something is needed, he moves on it while the others are busy debating, deferring, wringing their hands and passing the buck. Example: the issue of the well at the Township Hall that has been out of compliance for several years.
Pat has an excellent understanding of the value of the volunteer base within the community. His efforts to utilize this "Natural Resource" are ongoing and we are seeing the results. It is a fragile resource and Pat's nurturing efforts should see it thrive.
His attempts to make things happen have ruffled some feathers. Township properties such as the lighthouses and cemetery have been neglected for years in the area of tree trimming, with mother nature seriously encroaching on roads and people areas. In order to overcome 25-50 years of inaction, Pat moved forward last fall with a major trimming project with the understanding that the Trustees were okay with it, only to find the other trustees distancing themselves from the action. The squeaking wheels made quite a ruckus but more for political reasons than anything else. When brought into the picture, various government authorities such as the DNR, supported the actions and even implied that the trimming did not go far enough — particularly with respect to wildfire defenses. Although we have lost some visual quaintness, safer areas now exist.
Pat has been a refreshing addition to the Board of Trustees giving hope that progress is possible. He is a hands-on person with a vision for the future and has made serious attempts to move things forward. If only those around him would get on-side.
18. Report Card — Treasurer/Trustee Tadajewski
Bette has served Presque Isle Township for many years as Treasurer and deserves our appreciation for so doing. Our money has been looked after responsibly and we should be pleased that misappropriation issues endured by surrounding jurisdictions have not been a concern here.
Bette has tracked every penny in her "Black Book" (her pride and joy) and it has served her (and us) well over the years. However in this day, the book is no longer an accepted tool of the trade, and her resistance to fully embrace modern electronic accounting methods is a significant and potentially expensive concern.
Our treasurer gives the impression that her only role within the township is that of treasurer. She seems to overlook the fact that she is a trustee that votes on all Board issues. It is not uncommon during a Board discussion involving who-will-do-what, that Bette will insert her famous line: "That is not part of my Job Description", as she deflects additional duties. At a recent Board of Trustees meeting, she even clarified her role of Hall Manager by stating that it was "Hall RENTAL Manager". Yes, Bette, buying replacement light bulbs is not really too much to expect of you. That topic was not worthy of Board discussion.
Bette is also considered to be a member of the "Old Boys Club" with her opinions and voting consistent with the rest of the pack. At a minimum, she is acts as a foot-soldier — however, it is difficult to determine where she is in the pecking order, though.
She is another invisible member of the Board of Trustees, rarely seen at community events.
Betty has served us well over the years. Perhaps it is time, with our thanks, for her to look toward more relaxing times so that she can sit, put up her feet, and with a refreshing beverage in hand, enjoy what our township has to offer.
17. Report Card — Clerk/Trustee Fournier
Karen is hard working, well experienced in her role and has a lot of knowledge relating to the operation of townships. It is good to have those skills onboard.
However, on the negative side, Karen seems to have a power issue — a BIG power issue — she tries to control all aspects of the Board. Her opinions are always expressed first; she dominates any and all discussions; and she pushes and persists to get her way. She manipulates in her attempts to be the ultimate decision maker. You will notice that new procedures being established often route through her for approval. Unfortunately, other trustees appear intimidated, are easily swayed, and offer little resistance. It seems that she does not realize that she has the role of " clerk" and not supervisor. Recent clashes have brought this to the surface. Do not be surprised to see her exercise additional and perhaps somewhat questionable strategies in the near future to feed her control appetite.
When it comes to dealing with issues, Karen is very quick to toss ordinances, rules & regulations and red tape into any discussion — thus frequently stalling progress. Although part of her job is to ensure that regulations are followed within township operations, perhaps a bit more moderation should be exercised and greater effort placed in resolving concerns and thus moving forward. She has the ability to be an effective rudder if were not for her tendancies to act as an anchor. It might be beneficial for her to listen more and speak less for greater achievement.
Many in the township consider Karen to be a key player in the "Old Boys Club", with a membership that extends beyond present elected officials. This is the group that has given the current Township Supervisor such a rough ride since he came to office. Whether she is the power broker or just a lieutenant, the net cost has been high in light of recent discord.
Karen is another member of the Board of Trustees that is relatively invisible at community activities. Perhaps she feels that she is the Township Clerk and not really a Trustee. Trustees need to get out and mix with the community as a whole to determine its pulse. However, changes are in the wind. In recent days, she has actually been spotted above ground. One tiny step forward.
16. Report Card — Trustee Paavola
As a trustee, Cynthia is a strength that is not fully realized. She is a person of few words, but you would be well advised to listen carefully to those words. One might compare her to an owl — eyes wide open, missing nothing; evaluating everything; exhibiting patience; acting without dramatics. She is an independent thinker and refuses to simply follow the pack.
Cynthia is an individual who respects all individuals — and treats everyone with courtesy and dignity. Unfortunately, these traits leave her vulnerable as not all around her are of similar character. Occasionally, she simply gets "steam rolled" by fellow trustees.
Cynthia is part of the community and very supportive of local events. Her attendance and involvement is appreciated. Perhaps a bit more interaction with the public would improve her ability to represent.
She has a lot to offer our township in her role. Her impact would be more noticeable if she were to become more vocal and give stronger presentation of her views. Unfortunately, her contributions are often lost in the smoke generated by her colleagues.
15. Report Card — Trustee Morrison
Lynn is somewhat of a non-entity and as such, that makes his evaluation a bit difficult. During Board meetings, he spends most of his time nodding his head and agreeing with whatever is being said. Rarely does he contribute anything of substance. What he is best known for is his statements: "I want to go on record as ..."
In his role of liaison for the Parks & Recreation Committee, one of Lynn's duties is to report back at Board meetings. He sometimes struggles to provide a meaningful report and willingly hands off the task to the Parks & Rec. chairman.
As for his interaction with the community, Lynn tends to be relatively invisible at local events. By spending time mixing with the taxpayers, he would get a better feel for their concerns enabling him to improve his ability to represent.
Lynn needs to become more of an independent person and forge his own way on the Board. Get away from "riding the wave" by presenting new and creative ideas with energy and conviction. He needs to become a hands-on person, show some spark and get more actively involved.
14. Report Card On Township Trustees
It seems that there is considerable interest in the publication of Report Cards on our elected township officials. Several comments have already been expressed on the performance of our trustees, and there is room for more. If you wish to input your 2 cents worth, we would be pleased to receive it. Contributor's comments will be taken into consideration and blended into the respective reports. Identification of sources will not be attached to any report card materials published. Individual report cards will begin to be posted in a few days.
13. What A Difference A Month Makes!
Wow! There hasn't been a Board of Trustees Meeting like this one in recent memory. After the explosive March event, everyone was on their best behavior. Smiles, cheery voices and politeness prevailed. The agenda with the associated timelines was followed almost to the letter.
The appearance of the agenda with very specific time allotments set out, signaled to all that the evening was to be the beginning of a new chapter, if not a new book. Had the riot act been read behind closed doors? Had the mirror been working overtime since the last meeting? Are some of our trustees simply getting smarter? There was a definite sense that everyone was walking on eggs — not wanting to be the one to initiate another omlet.
Will it last? Is it truly a new beginning? Let us all hope. Everything is at stake.
12. It Is Our 3 Month Anniversary
Three months ago, this website went "live". There was no fanfare, no promotion, no hype. Within 72 hours, the first visitor stumbled upon us and a new era began. The Shadow website has now seen more than 800 visitors with page views in excess of 3000 — not bad when you consider that Presque Isle Township had a year 2000 census population of 1691 in 748 households.
Obviously, we are doing something right. It cannot all be casual curiosity. There is a regular group of visitors that check in every 2 or 3 days to see what is going on — with a couple of township officials included in that group ......Hmmm. Website visitors are received from all over North America indicating that our snowbirds as well as others are eager to stay up-to-date on the local issues. We intend to stay the course.
It is interesting to look back at some of the topics that attracted the attention of our visitors and generated discussion within the community. Without a doubt, tree cutting topped the list. The shock value of the visual had an impact on everyone. It was unfortunate that many of our trustees immediately ran like frightened deer and claimed that they had no knowledge that it was to happen — when in fact they either did know or should have known. Although there were mistakes made by virtually everyone in the picture, all is well on the road to recovery. A new season is here and plans are in place and volunteers are eager to "get to it". We can all look forward to the new and improved landscape.
Perhaps a low point might be identified as the repeated character assassination laid on the most generous and honorable volunteer within our community by the defeated candidate for township supervisor. Without a doubt, that episode will generate fallout well into the future.
Feedback from our readers generated much interest. Ranging from emotional - to rambling - to cutting - to libelous - to borderline criminal — we brought those comments to our readers. Unfortunately, occasional editing was necessary in order to meet our publishing standards. This site is focused on issues pertaining to the government of Presque Isle Township. Typically we will only reference individuals by name if they have run for public office or they receive township money or it is a matter of public record. In some situations, initials may be used, but these may or may not be accurate. Whether you agree or disagree with issues and opinions presented on this site, your feedback comments are appreciated and will be considered for posting.
Unfortunately, we do have some regrets. One of our feedback messages referenced "firemen" and was initially posted with a minimal editorial challenge. A few days later a proper editorial clarification was added. The feedback was (and still is) posted in the words of the author — but some of those words were very poorly or erroneously chosen. In the interest of free speech, the author's message remains. However, our local firemen have taken a serious and unwarranted image hit, and that is regrettable. Our firemen are a very dedicated and honorable crew and we owe them our support. I am sure that the members of our local fire department understand this one sad fact about our culture — that the tainting of one must frequently and unfairly be shouldered by many.
And what about the future? Township issues will continue to be illuminated as we move forward. Reader comments will be welcomed. Would you like to see a Report Card on our elected officials? Is there something that we should know to assist in the evaluation of their performance? Fill us in. In the meantime, thanks to all who have invested in their community by taking the time to check us out. Our goal is to raise awareness of our local government. We are off to a good start.
11. Sanitized Minutes
One of the concerns expressed by local citizens is that of the published minutes of township meetings not accurately reflecting what took place. This month we have a prime example in the minutes of the Board of Trustees Meeting of March 8.
Minutes are required to reflect the business that took place, and the published minutes do a reasonable job. Those are the sanitized minutes and Erika must be complimented on what was surely a difficult task. However, they are lacking as a record of what happened between 7 & 9:15 pm that evening. The highly volatile exchange that took place and culminated in the clerk exiting Board chambers is not fully reflected in the minutes and the ugly details are probably best left off the official record. This is a situation where a transcript of the meeting would be much more informative, if one were available.
It is important that the taxpayers know what takes place in our township meetings. You must realize that the official minutes will provide only a part of the picture. What is portrayed in the picture is, to some degree, at the discretion of those responsible for that record. Not everything can be included — and such is the reality. Each attendee can provide you with their interpretation of what transpired — but they will not be in agreement. For the full scoop, you must attend the meeting yourself. Accuracy and completeness will then not be in question.
10. Mark This Date On Your Calendar ... April 12
For the taxpayers of Presque Isle Township, be sure to mark April 12th on your calendar for the next Board of Trustees meeting.
During the previous meeting on March 8th, simmering issues generated a volcanic atmosphere resulting in the Township Clerk exiting Board chambers. Accusations flew freely. One might say, "the wheels came off".
As taxpayers, there are questions for which you should seek answers. Is this how we wish our township to function? Was the departure of the Clerk from the meeting due to a non-defendable stand she was taking or were those theatrics justified? Our trustees have important work to do at board meetings — and are seriously handicapped if someone takes their ball and goes home.
Unfortunately, township taxpayers have to shoulder some of the blame. Board of Trustee behavior is very much affected by the audience. The extremely light attendance assuredly was a factor in what transpired. If we wish our trustees to take their positions seriously, then we must do likewise. Chamber chairs should not be empty during the evening of the second Monday of each month.
Our Board of Trustees does respond to the taxpayers. On April 12, 2010 @ 7 pm, show your interest and concern for our township by attending the Board meeting. An empty chair or an occupied chair talk equally loudly. The Trustees are listening.
9. By-Law (Non)Enforcement
During the Zoning Administrator's report at a recent Board of Trustees meeting, the comment was made that there were a couple of issues being worked on — but that the main problem was that people didn't understand the process. Perhaps, that was an understatement.
Our township has an assortment of ordinances covering a wide range of issues, and an apparent propensity for expansion of that collection. However, of what value are these by-laws without enforcement? Local citizens, for the most-part, have no idea about the mechanics of by-law enforcement or even if there is any. As you travel about our community, it is not difficult to identify possible non-compliance issues — a light shining on a neighbor's house; junk on someone's property; a noisy party; multiple small buildings; a manicured beach — to name but a few. Some situations have existed for years, yet nothing seems to have been done.
How does enforcement occur? Yes, one can probably file a complaint — but how? By phone? By writing a letter? In a casual conversation? And to whom? But how else does it occur? Do we have a By-Law Enforcement Officer that patrols the community to identify infractions? Or is that not how it works. Perhaps it is the squeaking wheel or maybe it is just someone's whim. There must be some set process for the indentification and handling of non-compliance situations.
Perhaps our Zoning Administrator or one of our turstees could enlighten the township residents/taxpayers — through the township website or this one or both. Yes, we don't understand the process.There is reader feedback on this article. Click Here
8. How Pure Is Your Michigan?
March, ahhhh ... warmer days (actually, less cold), more daylight, the sense that a new season is beginning to stir. The mind starts to drift into the future.
Last year, the Pure Michigan advertising campaign attracted tourism interest in our area at a figure that was difficult to believe. Now that we have visitor attention, how do we 'set the hook'? It is easy to look around our community and see much that can be done to make it safer, more attractive and more interesting for those that take the bait. Make a list of things that would fit the criteria of community improvement and then study it carefully — and then post this Community Improvement List on your refrigerator. Now, make a second list. On this list, place only improvements that would apply specifically to you and your property. What improvements could YOU make with the same purpose in mind? Not as easy to create this list, is it? The short-comings of others are easier to see.
In the coming days, ponder your list. As you come and go, study how your property presents itself. Would a coat of paint, litter clean-up, landscaping, pruning, etc., etc., etc. leave a better impression? A lot of improvements have no dollar cost, just a bit of sweat. Community improvement begins at home. How Pure Is Your (part of) Michigan? Make 'your list' a priority and Git-R-Done! Now, you can go back to the refrigerator list and volunteer to work on it.
7. Presque Isle Township Clean-Up Weekend
A recent response from a reader proposed that a Clean-Up Weekend be held in May where the entire community conducts roadside clean-up and plants wildflowers to enhance the local curb appeal. This is an excellent suggestion that has very little cost attached and can produce a great benefit — not only in the physical appearance of the local area, but will also in community spirit.
We throw out this challenge to our local township government — to take the lead by making a proclamation that annually, a specific weekend in May be declared Presque Isle Township Clean-Up Weekend. In so doing, the Board's role would be to promote and co-ordinate the process through the township committees, local groups & organizations and provide some basic advertising of the event within the community.
What about it, folks? We are all very proud of our community. Do we not want to present our best side to the world?
6. Better Access To Township Services
A significant portion of the Presque Isle Township population falls into the classification of weekenders. These individuals patronize our businesses and reward local events with their support and spending. A concern that has been expressed by members of this group is their inability to personally do township business while they are in the area. Some have reported that special requests to meet with officials have been ignored or refused. The only option remaining for them is to be in the community at a time when the township offices are open — probably at the cost of one or more day's pay and a special trip. Most of these individuals are taxpayers, although not local voters.
Perhaps this segment of our community could be provided an opportunity to access township services. Since the local population dramatically inflates each weekend, particularly during the warmer months, it would seem reasonable to have the township offices open at some point during that time. One possibility would be to open from 10 am to noon on two Saturdays per month during May through September. These could either be additional open hours or a just a re-scheduling of existing hours. Even local citizens, unavailable during the current open hours, could benefit.
5. No Way To Treat A Volunteer
The Presque Isle Community is truly blessed to have Clayton Peters in our midst. After a highly distinguished career in law enforcement, retirement found him taking up residence in the vicinity of our harbor and lighthouses. In recent years he has volunteered hundreds, if not thousands of hours towards the maintenance and beautification of our lighthouse properties. The results of his leadership, devotion and passion are visible to the thousands that annually visit these landmarks.
The recent tempest triggered by tree cutting on these properties has resulted in some comments being made by a particular female member of the audience at a Township public meeting. These comments, included a statement approximately as follows:
"Who is to say that Clayton Peters and (Township Supervisor) Pat Pokorski did not receive money from the tree cutting company and place it in their own pockets."
That comment was totally unfounded. Pat Pokorski is an elected official, and for him such an attack goes with the political territory. However, Mr. Peters is a volunteer — not only extremely generous with his efforts, but with integrity beyond reproach. He does not hold elected office. To include him in such a comment is slanderous, highly offensive, and completely uncalled for. Justifiably, Mr. Peters was quite upset by the cloud launched upon his character. No volunteer should be subjected to such abuse.
At the December 14, 2009 Township Board of Trustees Meeting, Mr. Peters submitted a letter responding to the comments noted above and concluded it with a request for an apology from the original speaker (who was present at the time). The letter was publicly read by a Trustee. At this point, a month had passed since the original statement was made, and one would think that this would be an opportunity to do some fence mending, soothe some wounds and work towards a smoother road for the future. Unfortunately, that did not happen and a rather pathetic scene followed. In her response to the apology request, not only did the speaker repeat the initial comments, but emotionally ranted for several minutes in the same vein. No apology was given. It was truly a very uncomfortable and embarrassing experience for all present.
Perhaps you should know that the vocal member of the audience referenced above was Karen Pettalia — unsuccessful candidate for Township Supervisor in the previous election. The incidents noted here should raise warning flags for the taxpayers of Presque Isle Township. Ms. Pettalia's aspirations to take on public roles within the township should be closely scrutinized. Such poor judgment and lack of compassion has no place within our community.
4. New Lighthouse Tree Cutting — Who Was Paying Attention?
The tree cutting fuss created this past fall was primarily triggered by the dramatic change as one looks from the 1905 House to the south. When the first stage of clearing was completed on this 3-4 acre area, the overall appearance was not pretty even though the view of the lake was impressive. The initial shock that most people experienced made it difficult to visualize what it could be when the project is completed. Adding to the hot button issue was the additional cutting, trimming, etc. of other areas that were done at the same time. This extension to the project allowed taking advantage of the heavy duty equipment on site thus saving the backs of our volunteers and achieving what otherwise could take many years.
This project should not have been a surprise to anyone. If you check the minutes of the August 10, 2009 Board of Trustees Meeting, you will see the following as part of the report from Parks and Recreation:
P. Pettalia reported on the additional parking that is being sought at the New Lighthouse. They have plans to mark off a section that would allow a clear view of the lake from the 1905 House porch. If everything works out, they hope to have it cleared this fall (as soon as the park closes).
Why was everyone so surprised in November? Was nobody paying attention? If trees are such an important issue, then why did our trustees not question that part of the report? After all, it did indicate imminent execution. P. Pettalia, who presented the report, is a former and long time Township Supervisor and presently the Chairman of Parks and Recreation. Should he not have realized that board approvals might be appropriate and make such a request of the Board? Or was this a deliberate oversight knowing that once the cutting occurred, the issue would explode on the shoulders of the current Township Supervisor. Now everyone knows that the current and former Township Supervisors are not members of each other's fan clubs, with each having political objectives that are in direct conflict. It is not too far fetched to suspect that the tempest generated by the tree clearing was fostered, at least in part, by one side or the other for the purposes of making political hay.
3. How Things Get Done (Or Not Done) In Presque Isle Township
After you attend a few Board of Trustee meetings, you will begin to get a handle of how things are done in this township. At each meeting, there is the usual financial reporting and the paying of the bills — normally quite boring stuff but worthy of your attention. See where your money is being spent. You never know when a juicy tidbit may surface here. Then come the various committee reports. This segment usually provides good sense as to what is happening and the direction that the various groups would like to proceed. In many cases, segments of these reports sound very familiar. " Have I not heard this before ... possibly several times before?" Occassionaly, in the course of the meeting, a request will be made for approval for some project. The following may very well transpire:
Trustees: A general discussion of what the request is about with some superficial questions asked.
Treasurer: "What budget will this come out of? We have no money! We must not jump into this too quickly."
Clerk: "Has the following been done — A formal proposal? Project budget? List of responsibilities? Timelines? Contingency plan? 3 quotes secured? Approvals from DNR, MDEQ, MTA, Whistler's Mother? This must be studied more and public input must occur. Let me see if I can find an ordinance that this will fall under — if not, then we should create one. By the way, you failed to cross the 'T' in the 5th paragraph on page 13 of your submission. I cannot support this request! "
Trustee X: Nodding of the head. " I agree. I agree. Let me go on the record as agreeing!"
Trustee Y: "I make a motion that we defer this until all requested studies, approvals and documentation has been submitted in triplicate or until we have gobs of money in the bank."
Trustee Z: "I second the motion."
Aye, Aye, ...
By now you have figured out that our Board of Trustees has its challenges when it comes to moving forward. They are masters of debate, delay & defer. However, all is not lost. If the issue happens to be an ordinance or the generation of red tape, things happen more expeditiously.
So how can you get something done in this township? As long as you have many years before you die of old age, play the game and make your request to the Board. Another option (if it is within your abilities), go ahead and do it. It just may be easier (and cheaper) to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Just make sure that you do not push the envelope too far. This is how the area 'Old Timers' have done things for years. As long as you do not have any enemies in the township cliques, you may just achieve your objective.
2. A Message To The Trustees
Congratulations for being selected to take on the role of Trustee for Presque Isle Township. A public election has placed you in that seat — perhaps only recently or possibly many years ago. You have earned the right to occupy a position of trust and to honorably guide the township on its road to the future. Your responsibility is to not only look after the day-to-day operation of the township, but to carefully foster its resources and the well-being of all within. However, being worthy of remaining in that position is a whole other issue.
You represent everyone within the township boundaries — residents both permanent and temporary, as well as visitors and transients — whether they can cast a local ballot or not. You are not God; you are not a genius; you are no better or worse a person than those standing to your left or right. You are an independent thinker; you view with compassion those who come for assistance; you are nobody's puppet. You have been "tapped on the shoulder" to act on their behalf. You are their representative. You are an elected official.
Your position is classed as part-time — but that is only from a salary perspective. You do not punch a time-clock. Your job does not begin or end. Once you accept the trust of those who mark the X's, it becomes full time — 24-7. Yes, there are all the meetings and the duties that you are required by law to fulfill, but you are paid for those and paid reasonably well.
There are many members of our society who do much more than what they are paid directly for doing. On their own time, responsible individuals take steps that will improve their on-the-job performance in many, many ways. As representatives of our community, some of you are missing very easy and very obvious steps in that regard. Other than at election time, some trustees are rarely seen at local events — even township sponsored events! (Trustees Fournier, Morrison & Tadajewski — are you listening?) The picnics, the community suppers, the Art & Crafts and Wooden Boat Shows, the Olde Fashioned Christmas — what an opportunity to socialize and rub shoulders with those who entrusted you. Get to know them; let the conversations wander; talk about our community. You might even learn what really concerns the everyday man. It might even translate into votes. There is no better way to cure the ailment afflicting many elected officials — the cloud of ignorance.
You have earned your seat, but are you worthy of retaining it? The community asks only that you do your very best. You represent every one of them. Be diligent. Be honorable. Be fair.
1. What Prompted This Website?
Small town politics is alive and well in Presque Isle Township — after all, it is a small town, so to speak. We have a small geographic area, small tax base, small population, small employment opportunities, and, all things considered — small problems. We are also grand in many ways. Grand Lake, grand lighthouses, grand history, grand scenery, grand natural resources, and best of all, have grand neighbors with which to share our incredible surroundings. Where else would you rather be? It is, however, politics that brought us to this point. Are we what we are because of our local government — or in spite of it?
As usual, I'm writing slowly because I know you can't read fast.
... Radar (in a letter), M.A.S.H.