Editorial Archives
July 2, 2010 To May 7, 2011

       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.

Contents

Go to Current Editorials

56. Lafarge Damage Claims
55. Why Follow The Rules?
54. Enough Is Enough!
53. Another Special Meeting
52. Posting Of Meeting Notices
51. Lighthouse Concessionaire
50. Minutes Revisited
49. Minutes On The Decline
48. The Shadow — 1 Year Old!
47. Special Meeting November 20th
46. Who Does The Board Represent?
45. Today We Give Thanks
44. Ethics
43. Where Do We Go From Here?
41. Recall Is Inappropriate
42. Down To The Wire
40. Recall Costs
39. Dismissal of Pokorski Accusations
38. You Hurt My Feelings!
37. Missing Files
36. Bah, Humbug
35. If You Repeat A Lie Often Enough ...
34. Peter Weighs In
33. Revenue From Lighthouse
32. Special Meeting of July 26
31. Over-stepping Boundaries
30. "Cemetery Trees"
29. Musings From The Restroom Wall
28. Special Meeting Notification
27. Independance Day Events
26. Rumors ...
25. Recall Clarity Hearing

Go to Editorial Archives prior to July 1, 2010


56. Lafarge Damage Claims

May 7, 2011

At the Planning Commission meeting on May 2, Lafarge made a presentation regarding its blasting practices as they relate to the claims by local residents for consequential damages.

It became clear very early that Lafarge quarry manager, Dave Nelson along with Allan (employee) & Steve (blasting contractor), had one goal — to convince the locals that Lafarge blasting does not cause damage to surrounding properties. For almost an hour, they quoted government regulations, shot reports, studies by "independent" services, statistics, etc., etc., etc. to paint a picture of passing trucks, weather, human traffic, Lake Huron, and even loud music as being the culprits — but not Lafarge. Dave's bosses would have been proud; he stuck to the party line all the way.

But there were holes in their arguments. The "independent" consulting service that studied the issue of dry wells reported that the aquifers and ground water around the wells were flowing away from the quarry, and as such, the quarry draining their water supply was not possible. This claim cannot be easily confirmed or disputed. What do you expect such an "independent" service to say? When a company like Lafarge with deep pockets, hires an outside service, do you think that they will produce an unfavorable report for their customer? Happy customers mean returning customers. Dave Nelson said it correctly: "It is all business." A different consulting service paid from different pockets could easily produce a contradicting report.

Another hole in their argument was that they failed to address the accumulated effect of the blasting process — approximately 200 such shots per year. You may be able to convince a person that any one shot does not cause harm in itself. We are all aware of the term: "softening up the opponent". We know how it is done, and what comes next. Whether Lafarge wants to admit this or not, they are beyond "next".

Perhaps the most disappointing (or perhaps pathetic) point came late in the presentation as the audience continued to press for some compensation for damages, even if only to generate good will with the neighbors. A comment by Dave Nelson stated (or at least implied) that if they compensated for the claims, they would not be be able to make donations to community activities such as the fireworks. Some would call that a threat.

It is clear that Lafarge has no intentions to compensate for damage claims. You might have a chance if a smoking gun could be produced, but they would probably argue that it was fog and not smoke. The only thing that Lafarge will understand is force — the force of legal action funded by deep pockets. This is a David and Goliath situation. "David" (not Nelson) may have a few rocks, but unfortunately has no slingshot. Lafarge avoids their obligations. The local citizens lose.

According to the quarry manager, Lafarge wants to be a good neighbor. Since he brought up the topic of fireworks, perhaps he would consider this. Lafarge could demonstrate that they are good neighbors by teaming up with their blasting contractor, Austin Powder, and presenting an "Explosion (fireworks) Extravaganza" every 4th of July as a "thank you" to the community. That would not even be pocket change for Lafarge. We may still have dry wells and cracked plaster, but for a few minutes would be able to look skyward and be amazed.

Again, thanks to the citizen observers who provided presentation details.




55. Why Follow The Rules?

May 3, 2011

Wow, last night's Planning Commission meeting was barely adjourned when word hit the street regarding a decision that could haunt this township for years to come.

Just to set the scene: In recent months, a township property owner constructed a substantial accessory building without a building permit — and that also was not in compliance with local ordinances. In addition to these violations, the particular property is located within the Presque Isle Harbor Association boundary, and the building was not in keeping with the Restrictive Covenants that apply to all of their members. To further confound the situation, the property owner was now asking not only to be cleared of past sins, but was also requesting permission for further construction in excess of existing regulations.

The property owner is not a newcomer to the area, and in the beginning, was most assuredly aware that there were rules pertaining to the modifications that he was about to make to his property. Arrogance was obvious in the manner that his case was presented to the Commission — and he only went to bended knee when publically advised to do so by the Zoning Administrator. His apology for past actions had a very hollow ring to it. It is not a big stretch to view his original actions as being calculated and not out of ignorance. If you don't like the rules, then ignore them.

As the situation was being evaluated, Commission Member Lang attempted to address the lack of permit and approvals prior to (the completed) construction, but received very little backing from his counterparts, with perhaps the exception of Commission Member Paltelky. Commission Member Taylor did make a contribution to the discussion but did not address the underlying issues. The others said very little. No knuckles were wrapped. With some relatively minor stipulations, the application was approved.

There has been a blatant disregard of the permitting procedures that apply to everyone within the township. Our Township Planning Commission as a whole has failed to take a stand. The property owner could have been directed to dismantle his accessory building, but that option was not even discussed. We can only now hope that the Board of Trustees will exercise their "obligation" to the taxpayers to review this situation and act in the best interests of our community.

As it stands now, the flood gates are open. The rules are there only for those who wish to follow them. You do not need a building permit. You do not need zoning approvals before constructing. God forgives.

Thanks to the citizen observers who passed on these details so promptly.




54. Enough Is Enough!

April 12, 2011

For the 3rd time in less than a year, our township has failed to issue timely payment to staff and vendors for goods and services already approved. This is not acceptable!

Last June, payment was withheld from a maintenance employee for his services and out-of-pocket expenses. The employee was in no way at fault in the situation. In February of this year, a properly requisitioned check for an approved merchandise purchase was held back and thus not available for a COD delivery. And now, the latest. At the April 11th Board of Trustees meeting, the Administrative Assistant basically had to publicly beg to be issued her $500 per month payment for health care benefits — approved Feb. 14, commencing March 1. What is going on?

In each of the above cases, the "victims" were employees or vendors with no track record or concerns that should precipitate such treatment. Why is it happening? First of all, responsibility falls directly on the Township Clerk and/or the Township Treasurer. Again, why the problem? There is no obvious reason — but plenty of excuses that serve nicely as a smoke screen.

   Possibilities...

No matter what the reason is, this failure to timely pay employees and vendors has to stop. These "victims" are the backbone of the operations of this township. If they continue to be "jacked around", you can expect them to seek more friendly fields in the near future. To the perpetrators here, get your act together now! This community can live without your services. The same cannot be said of the "victims".


53. Another Special Meeting that nobody knew about

April 6, 2011

April 2nd saw another Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees, the eleventh in the past 12 months. Again, almost nobody knew about it until the minutes were published.

Not only do these meetings come at a financial cost to the taxpayers, but also without suitable notification of the local citizens. There are 2 questions here:

  1. Are all these Special Meetings necessary?
  2. Can public notification be improved?

For sure, not all are necessary. Better planning (thinking ahead???) would reduce the numbers. There may be some alternate strategies that might be beneficial.

As for notification, more can AND SHOULD be done. Several ideas have been presented on this site — and none have been implemented. In this day of instant electronic communication, a simple and easy method could provide interested citizens with notification of upcoming Special Meetings. The Township could create a list of email addresses of individuals who wish to be notified of any Special Meetings. When such a meeting is called, an email 'Alert' with relevant notification details could be created and sent to every address on the list. Time required: 10 minutes max. It would be up to individuals to submit their email contact info if they wish to be included. Such a small investment for such a large benefit. Since the Board of Trustees does not recognize this website, they probably will not recognize an easy and beneficial suggestion. The Board occasionally does respond to public input. Here is your opportunity.

As for this most recent Special Meeting, the urgency of the repair and painting of the 1870 cottage probably justified the meeting call. As for the furnace issue ... there have been complaints since November re lack of heat in the gym, but were not addressed until a new hall manager entered the picture. Perhaps this situation could have been handled months earlier (at a regular meeting) if "someone" had been paying attention. And yes, after 27 years of service, the furnace should be replaced.




52. Posting Of Meeting Notices

March 10, 2011

Kudos to Clif Taylor and the Planning Commission! At their March 7th meeting, they chose to post future meeting announcements in the Coming Events section of the Alpena News. It is reassuring to see that there is at least one group within our township government that wishes to have local citizens aware of what is going on. Perhaps the 'red faced' Trustees, who missed that opportunity last month, will notice the example and do likewise.




51. Lighthouse Concessionaire

March 5, 2011

For those who visit the official website for Presque Isle Township and look at the "NOTICES" pages, they will see the following:

Opportunity to operate TWO historical lighthouse gift shops!

Presque Isle Township is seeking parties interested in operating as park concessionaire for the New and Old Presque Isle Lighthouse Gift Shops. Initial contract term is from April 1st, 2011 until Oct. 31st, 2013 (with possibility for renewal thereafter). A complete copy of the contract and rules of operation to be bid upon can be obtained by calling, visiting, or emailing the Presque Isle Township Hall,
12653 E. Grand Lake Rd, Presque Isle, MI 49777,
989-595-2752, Mon-Thurs 9 am-2 pm
pitownship@speednetllc.com
deadline for bids is March 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Next, take a look at the minutes of the February 28, 2011 Parks & Recreation Committee meeting — and notice the following under the Museum Society News.

New PITMS contract & concessionaire contract: Drew Matuszak, president of the Museum Society, presented a written proposal from the Society regarding operations as concessionaire. He provided a background regarding all of the work and research that had been done in order to draft the proposal. They have been in contact with numerous groups and locations that operate the way they are proposing, and they feel that they have come up with a solution that is the best for everyone involved. Following discussion, C. Peters made a motion to approve the proposed concept and accept the offer from the Museum Society to operate as concessionaire. D. Spencer seconded. C. Peters clarified that the intention of the original motion is to now take the recommendation to the Board upon their recommendation. All ayes; motion carried.

Notice the timelines here. The Township website gives a deadline for bids of March 24th — a date more than 3 weeks after Parks & Rec voted to accept the Museum Society's proposal (and recommend it to the Board).

This is not a straight forward situation. The Museum Society has been a "partner" for a number of years with respect to our lighthouses. Their willingness to extend that partnership to include the concessions is good in many ways. However, the Township has an invitation out for bids and perhaps Parks & Rec jumped the gun a bit in their decision. More likely than not, it is a case of a poorly worded motion that should have simply endorsed the proposal. To "... accept the offer from the Museum Society to operate as concessionaire" and recommend to the Board prior to the application deadline was inappropriate. It now looks like no further bids are welcome, in spite of the invitation being displayed. Not a good public relations situation.

The concession at our lighthouse is important to this community. There have been issues with previous concessionaires — and for the past 3 years, the Township has been trying to make changes. The main problem is that they back themselves into a corner due to repeatedly failing to get out of the starting blocks. The clock is not on anybody's side at the moment.

We need a lighthouse concession. The Museum Society is a natural for that role. If only the process to a resolution could be a bit less murky.



50. Minutes Revisited

February 23, 2011

Last month, we commented on the state of certain aspects of the minutes from Township meetings — specifically the "Comments From The Audience" section. Sorry to say, but the situation shows no improvement — and may in fact, be deteriorating.

Take a look at this month's corresponding entry from the Minutes of the February 14, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting:

Comments from the Audience: A comment regarding the minutes was received from one member of the audience.

Questions:

For the official record, the local citizens deserve better than what was delivered. Regardless of what the actual comment was, there is no record of it. Yes, someone made a comment. However, in the months to come, nobody will remember what was said or who said it. Records should be complete and accurate. In the future when the same comment is made again, you can be sure that all will deny having ever heard it before. This is a great way to bury public input.

By not placing the details in the official record, are the
trustees not, in effect, deliberately destroying the public record?

As had been said before, trustee communication with the local community is struggling. The published minutes of the Board of Trustee meetings is the only reliable means for local citizens to learn what has transpired. Consider as well, the following from the most recent meeting:

She (Trustee Paavola) was also questioned, by a resident, as to why the Township does not post their meetings in the "In Brief" section of the news. She asked if the Board wanted to consider the matter further. No further action was determined at this time.

Does this not also give the appearance of a board without a commitment to communication?

There may be a solution available for this issue. If the Board of Trustees is not going to provide a complete and meaningful record of their meetings, then perhaps an outside party (possibly a member of the audience) could create a version of what transpired. We would willingly provide space on this website for those "unofficial" minutes to be displayed. They could even be made available to the local library as well. To be sure, this possibility will not sit well with Trustees. By doing a better job themselves, this option would be unnecessary.




49. Minutes On The Decline

January 23, 2011

Take a close look at the following excerpt from the Minutes of the January 10, 2011 Board of Trustees meeting:

Comments from the Audience: Comments were received from eight members of the audience. Concerns and questions were addressed accordingly.

As a record of what took place at the meeting, what does that tell you? Nothing! What an insult! Eight people invested their time in that meeting to make comments (and ask questions) — some of which may have been relevant to every citizen within the community. By officially recording their concerns in that manner, the participation of those individuals was trivialized.

Why was it recorded in this fashion? There has been talk about reducing the size of the official minutes — perhaps down to only reporting issues involving a vote. Verbose minutes consume a lot of staff time to produce. But there may be other reasons. Perhaps the Trustees find this section of the meeting too risky to have a detailed record of what transpired. For example, during that segment of the January meeting, one of the trustees blatantly contradicted herself on the existence of a particular set of receipts. Neither the topic of the receipts nor the contradiction appear on the record. In the past, various short-comings (some of which were quite serious) have come to light during the Comments from the Audience. When the comments (and questions) from 8 members of the audience are reduced down to 2 short sentences on the permanent record, you really get the impression that something is being buried.

Communication to the local community has been an ongoing concern for our Board of Trustees. Discussions at Board meetings often touch on the topic, with the expressed desire to improve information flow. The minutes of the various meetings represent the majority of their communication capability. However, those are only available to visitors to the Township Offices or website (and then only for about 3 months). The local public library does not have minutes of Township Meetings on their shelves despite the Board publicly stating several times that they did — or they would provide copies.

If the Township does reduce the size of the official minutes to only reporting issues involving a vote, what does that mean to the local citizens? Since issues involving votes takes up only about 20% of a typical meeting, that would leave about 80% of the meeting without an official or public record. That is what we see in the Comments From The Audience — approximately 20 minutes of audience participation reduced to 2 brief and meaningless sentences. Unless you attend the meeting, you will be in the dark regarding 80% of what goes on. Is this what you expect from your local elected officials?

If the Board of Trustees chooses to report the minutes in the "Comments ..." fashion, then the meeting minutes will become irrelevant to nearly everyone. Lack of information leads to distrust — of the process, and of those involved. The Board is strongly encouraged to provide comprehensive minutes to assist in their objective of transparency of local government. By so doing, they can ensure that complete and correct information reaches the public. Otherwise, the community may have to look to other less reliable sources for their misinformation.




48. The Shadow — 1 Year Old!

January 3, 2011

It was 1 year ago today that the Presque Isle Township Shadow website went live. The overall guiding philosophy was to provide information and varying viewpoints about local township government. Up until that launch day, those behind the scenes had a only a vision of what they wished the site to be, and had reservations regarding their efforts being accepted by a community with deeply ingrained attitudes. Little did we know the role that we would play.

In our efforts to get the site off the ground, we talked to many within the community. Conversations with local citizens revealed a wide range of concerns — some of which were as follows:

During the past 12 months, we have been very surprised as to the manner in which we have been received. It was not uncommon for "The Shadow" to surface in casual conversations around the community. Basically, there have been 2 camps — one (and a relatively small segment) telling us to shut up and mind our own business; and the other (by far the majority) providing kudos and offering support and encouragement for what we are doing. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), it is those who are most vocal in the negative vane that provide the greatest motivation for moving forward.

It is those who visit this website, both regularly and casually that have provided the greatest support. Those visitors not only produced the traffic numbers that told us we are on the right track, but many have provided feedback and comments on what they have seen.

Much has been achieved since our birth. Although there has been considerable improvement, challenges remain. In our first year, we believe that we have played a role in the following:

Our goal from the beginning was to provide another view of the government of the local community. Some of it has not been pretty, particularly when smaller details are brought into focus. Toes have been stepped on — often belonging to individuals who have placed their own interests ahead of those of the community as a whole. As we have said in the past, all we ask is that you accept us based on the merit of what we present. Whether you agree or disagree, we are what we are. For 2011, we intend to continue as we be.

As we trot forward into the coming 12 months, just a few closing remarks. It is the citizens of this community that guide our local government and the future. It is up to individuals to make their wishes and opinions known to the elected officials. If something on this website strikes a chord with you, make it known to a trustee. Yes, we do invite your comments and concerns regarding our community. Progress will not occur without actions.


47. Special Meeting November 20th

December 17, 2010

At the Board of Trustees meeting on December 13, reference was made to a Special Meeting held on November 20th. Apparently, the meeting had a single item agenda and was very brief in duration. The reason for the meeting call was to enable the new recycle trailer to be licensed so that it could be towed for the dumping of the contents.

For the local taxpayers, this is a bit perplexing. The question being asked is why it was necessary to call a Special Meeting for the sole purpose of licensing the trailer? The trailer arrived prior to the previous regular Board of Trustees Meeting and should have been handled at that time. The minutes of that meeting did reference that licensing was in progress. Did somebody drop the ball?

What has not been made clear is whether this Special Meeting came at a cost to the taxpayers. In light of the short duration of the meeting and that perhaps the issue should have been handled previously, it would be appropriate for the Trustees to forego remuneration on this particular occasion. Our community of volunteers has donated many, many hundreds of hours of service in the past year. It is only reasonable that our Trustees treat this as their contribution.




46. Who Does The Board of Trustees Represent?

December 4, 2010

Very simple question — very simple answer. You!

If you are a voter in Presque Isle Township, our Board of Trustees represents you. If you are a taxpayer, a visitor, or you do business within the township, our Board of Trustees represents you even though you may not have a local vote. They represent everyone with any kind of interest in our community.

Township government is a partnership. It is entrusted to operate and manage the affairs of the township, and we are responsible for providing guidance for them in their role. We cannot do their job, and they cannot fulfill their obligations without our assistance. A team must function for there to be a chance of a successful outcome.

Our elected trustees cannot operate in a vacuum. They must seek and accept input from any source with township interest. If you like what they are doing, tell them so. If you disapprove, provide them with suggestions for a better way. Those with township interest — voters or not — must take an active role by making their opinions known to the township officials. Participate (both you and the trustees) in local events and activities; volunteer to assist in community projects; invite township officials to attend your organization's meetings; contact them when you have a community concern.

Most importantly, pay attention to township government affairs. Perhaps the best way to do that is to attend the monthly trustee meetings. At a minimum, check out the minutes of the various Board and Committee meetings. It is not necessary to attend every meeting, but you should try to get to a few each year. At each, there is an opportunity for you to voice your comments. You will also get to witness the true goings-on and not just getting someone else's interpretation of the events. Keep in mind that the published minutes are only a 2 dimensional condensed version of the meeting — much has been omitted.

It is your government doing work on behalf of you. Make sure that you stay in the loop.




45. Today We Give Thanks

November 25, 2010

As we gather with family and friends on this special day, our thoughts turn away from the negatives in our life and to all of the things for which we can be thankful.

There are so many things — our freedom to be, our health, and those with which we share each day. We have so much.

In our little corner of the world, and specifically here in Northeast Michigan, everything is special — and we give thanks. We have been graced with the opportunity to be guardians of a truly beautiful and historic area. Very few people have their own lighthouse — we have 2 of them. We are privileged.

Our community is filled with individuals who not only are caretakers for our environment, but also keep watch and protect all who call this community home. We are appreciative.

It is impossible to itemize all for which we should be thankful. Today is the day for us to pause and reflect.




44. Ethics

November 13, 2010

At the September meeting of the Board of Trustees, the suggestion of the establishment of an "Ethics Committee" was made. The October meeting saw the topic surface again, and for a third time at this most recent (November) meeting. Although Trustee Morrison did present a personal dissertation on the topic, no "ethics" reference was evident in the draft minutes of the meeting.

Each and everyone of us considers ourselves to be an ethical person who lives each day in an ethical manner. It is an insult for one to feel that he/she is perceived as being unethical. Trustee Morrison's comments illustrated that very point. Trustee Morrison is NOT an unethical person — nor is any other Trustee or committee member. However, Trustee Morrison's comments did clearly illustrate that there is a need, perhaps not for an "Ethics Committee", but for at least some ethics training. Clearly, Trustee Morrison has not experienced a college level course in ethics, which is probably the case for several other committee members as well. Even those with such an experience could benefit from a refresher.

Ethics is in many ways like religion — both very sensitive and personal issues. Religion and ethics influence our day-to-day behavior. As stated previously, we are all ethical. In our daily prayers, we frequently request forgiveness for our sins — perhaps admitting that there may be some ethical gaps. It is, however, that due to personal differences, not everyone's ethics are identical. If you wished to look at the extreme, the masterminds behind 9/11 considered themselves to be ethical. There are those who consider that "the end justifies the means". We, in the Township, have recently experienced events where accusations of unethical behavior have flown in many directions. It is appropriate that we all take a step back and assess our own ethical position.

Ethics training will provide everyone with a better understanding of the issue and how it impacts the individual, and the community. For our Township officials, it will provide them with a broader understanding of where everyone is coming from and will allow them to be more tolerant and open to what is going on around them. Academics study ethics for years and never fully come to grips with its influence on society. What will a little bit of training do for our people? Perhaps they can all make it to the same page — or at least figure out what page they are on. The one who says he/she does not need the training is the one who who doesn't know what he/she doesn't know — and has the most to benefit from such an exercise.

Ethics training should be pursued by the Board of Trustees for all committee members. It can only serve to benefit our community.




43. Where Do We Go From Here?

November 7, 2010

Since the election on Tuesday, many in our community have been asking that question — and most do not have an answer. There are three very important factors that will have influence on the events down the road.

  1. The closeness of the recall vote
  2. Possible fallout from the recall campaign
  3. Pettalia gone to Lansing

The closeness of the recall vote means that the community is quite split on the issue of Patrick Pokorski as Supervisor. Will the dissenters continue on their track to hamstring and subvert the Supervisor, or will they relent and allow him to do the job for which he was elected? Let's face it, the past 12 months has been simply a fight for him to survive. After being derailed, will he be able to get back to his agenda to move the Township forward?

The various facets of the recall effort resulted in nearly all aspects of township government going under the microscope. The investigation into the actions of one individual resulted in the revealing of some "skeletons in the closets" of others. The recall effort itself also produced some questionable and possibly illegal individual behaviors. Will any of these issues come back to haunt?

A major component within the recall was the accusation that it was politically motivated. With Peter Pettalia's successful election to Lansing, will the "politics" aspect now disappear? Hopefully, the Pettalia shadow hovering over the township will dissipate, and his local disciples will allow our Board of Trustees to follow its own direction.

The coming days will be interesting. Supervisor Pokorski has survived this critical challenge — and will be much stronger because of it. He will lead us forward for the betterment of our community. He deserves our FULL co-operation.




42. Down To The Wire

October 30, 2010

For the voters of Presque Isle Township, decision day is upon us. Although the 106th campaign has been a big part of what is going on, all eyes will actually be on the recall vote regarding Township Supervisor, Patrick Pokorski.

The Recall issue has been more about neutering a 106th candidate than anything else. From the reported comment of a year ago by one candidate addressed to Patrick Pokorski, "You haven't seen dirty politics yet."; to the timing of the push to gather recall signatures just prior to the primary; to the placing of the recall on this ballot, the strategy has been obvious.

False accusations, exaggerated claims, ignored facts, a criminal investigation, misleading signature collectors, — all have served the purpose to overwhelm and confuse the voting community. Recent days with the criminal accusations being thrown out, have debunked much of the recall rhetoric as the voters get serious about the direction of their ballot. Credit must be given for the citizen efforts to sort through the claims and propaganda to identify the facts.

We have seen evidence that support for the recall has diminished. A number of local residents who initially endorsed the recall movement, have now removed both their signs and their support with the realization that there was more hype than fact. Some have also noted that the subject of the recall has actually achieved more for the community during his half-term than his predecessor in several terms. On top of this is the high cost to the taxpayers should the recall be successful. For many, that cost alone is too great.

On Tuesday, the X's hit the ballots. Our voters have thought this through and will make their statement as to the direction for the future. We are a very strong and resilient community. On Wednesday, we will move boldly forward together.




41. Recall Is Inappropriate

October 24, 2010

As we approach the final week before the November 2nd election, voters are studying the candidates and issues in preparation to mark their ballot. For many in Presque Isle Township, the recall of Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski tops the list for their consideration.

The recall of an elected official is not something to be taken lightly. There are serious implications for the operation of the local government, the citizens of the community and the individual being recalled.

For the local government, it creates turmoil due to the uncertainty of it all. The mere existence of the process prevents the duly elected officials from doing what is best for the community as they must be constantly looking over their shoulders and "kissing up" to the power brokers. Upon a whim, those individuals can launch a recall without any basis of fact and use their deep pockets and misguided tenacity to manipulate the outcome.

For the citizens of the community, their votes of the previous election are called into question and they must "do it again" — twice. Emotions are elevated within all who take it seriously, and this inevitably will produce scars that may not heal for years. There is also a serious financial cost to the community as the dollars ($5,000 or more) are drained from local services and benefits.

For the subject of the recall, the emotional burden is massive. If he/she attempts a defense, the financial costs can be staggering. His/her reputation can be destroyed. Remember, there is no requirement that the reasons for recall be valid. For the official who faces false or grossly distorted accusations, defense is extremely difficult. It is akin to the question being publically asked of a man, "Are you still beating your wife?" It is impossible to defend a statement like that. The damage has been done just by the question itself. It is a "gang" situation — many ganging up on one.

In this recall of Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski, some of the worst aspects of "Recall" exist. A dedicated public servant has faced unfounded accusations. Local power brokers have ganged up on an individual with limited defense resources. False and grossly inflated tales of wrong-doing have been circulated. AND the underlying situation has very little to do with Supervisor Pokorski's performance in office.

Here, Recall is inappropriate. The voters of Presque Isle Township can see that.




40. Recall Costs

October 19, 2010

With the recall vote on Supervisor Patrick Pokorski looming, do the taxpayers of Presque Isle Township fully understand the possibilities, should it be successful. Here is what we face:

  1. Cost of Special Election to get a replacement Supervisor: $5,000 +
  2. Candidates for Special Election chosen by the county. They may not even be township residents.
  3. New supervisor will be at best, a caretaker only, with little interest in the well-being of the Township. Will be in office for less than 2 years and unlikely to seek re-election in 2012.

To go this route seems like a very expensive proposition with a highly uncertain outcome. Look at the financial cost alone. $5000 is a lot of money and it would come out of the Township treasury — i.e. from your taxes. What would be impacted? You can be sure that it will not be salaries. Then it would have to come from perhaps the enhancement of our parks & lighthouses; possibly from the Fire Department and Emergency Services; from repairs and maintenance of township buildings; from investments in security and technology for the Township Office; the list goes on. No matter where it comes from, it will leave a hole as that money that would make an impact directly on what we have (or don't have) in this community.

As for what we get in return for this very expensive investment -- uncertainty. With several of the accusations of impropriety against Supervisor Pokorsky no longer having validity, is the recall a wise course of action? This is a big investment with a lot on the line. On Tuesday, November 2nd, you have the right and the responsibility to vote as your conscience dictates. Just make sure that you have thought everything through.




39. Dismissal of Pokorski Accusations

October 17, 2010

With the dismissal of the accusations levelled at Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski, there is a revised view towards the upcoming Recall. The fact that the Prosecuting Attorney and the Michigan State Police have concluded that Mr. Pokorski was not involved in any illegal activity casts serious shadows on the claims of Barry Shatz and the others who initiated the action.

For those behind the petition, the neutering of the cornerstone of their claim of impropriety, is a serious setback. Voters have grounds to be skeptical of all the claims outlined in the motion. For those who have studied the issue thoroughly, they have discovered that the Recall case is built on exaggerations and outright falsehoods. On top of that, numerous responsibility failures should more appropriately have been tagged to the previous Supervisor. The grounds for Recall just don't exist.

Unfortunately Patrick Pokorski is being victimized not for failing in his duties and responsibilities as Supervisor, but for his efforts to resolve and correct issues of previous administrations, and to move the Township forward and get things done. Previous administrations were "do nothing, don't rock the boat, and look after your friends." It is his opponents that have drawn the bulls-eye on his back to satisfy their own agenda. Regretfully, it is the taxpayers who stand to lose the most.




38. You Hurt My Feelings!

October 8, 2010

"You Hurt My Feelings! Well then, I'll quit. That'll just show you!" Doesn't that sound like the kid on the playground who didn't get his way? Well actually, it sounds more like the October 4th Planning Commission Meeting when the letter of resignation from David Lange was read.

When the recent vacancy on the Board of Trustees needed to be filled, David, along with 2 others filed applications. However, all did not go well for him as his occasionally volatile past came back to haunt. A number of less-than-flattering evaluations were voiced. In spite of the support from his friends in the " Good Ole' Boys Club", the position escaped David's grasp.

His letter of resignation had 2 ways to go — unfortunately he chose not to take the high road as Molly Benson and Karen Fournier had done before him. Instead, he opted to travel the other route and trash talk those around him and blame them for the environment in which he found himself. Little did he realize that the best place for those accusations to have been recited was to a mirror.

One can understand his disappointment of the missed goal as well as the ego-beating from the very frank comments on his character. Stepping back was a valid option. His resignation comments surrounding his "life is too short" phrase strikes a chord in many of us. We all have to do what is best for us personally.

Perhaps there should be clarification of a point contained in David's letter of resignation. He makes 3 references using the term "volunteer" with respect to his township contributions. As Chairman of the Planning Commission, he is paid $125 per regular meeting — this is pay, not reimbursement for expenses. That is not a volunteer role. To claim that it is, belittles the (non-paid) volunteers that are such a major part of the fabric of this community.

Recent times have not been kind within the political spectrum of our township. Complacency of years gone by has caught up with us. The community is becoming aware of the issues, and changes are occurring. David's departure is another step along this road. Sometimes change is painful and a necessary side effect in the cleansing process. There are still challenges ahead. We are not there yet.




37. Missing Files

September 29, 2010

At the September 13, 2010 Board of Trustees meeting, a member of the audience brought up the topic of missing files. For our readers who are not aware of this issue, in recent months a number of key township documents have not been able to be located — some of which may be relevant to an ongoing police matter. Due to the potential significance of those particular documents, a separate investigation was launched.

In response to the question at the meeting, the treasurer stated that the files may in fact not be missing — just "mis-filed" — a statement she repeated a couple of times. {Note: These files have been missing for some time — one would think that a thorough search would have already been conducted.} The meeting minutes on this topic end with the statement: "The specific missing files were referenced, and concluded to more than likely be missing rather than just misplaced."

This is a serious issue and the Treasurer, with her "mis-filed" explanation, seemed a bit light in the degree of concern she exhibited towards the topic. We have a Township Supervisor who is the subject of a police investigation; a former Township Clerk who suddenly resigned; files missing - some of which pertain to a lighthouse concession with a history of tardy payments; a treasurer strongly suggesting "document mis-filing" when that likelihood is improbable; public requests for a forensic audit being pushed aside; ... the list of related circumstances & concerns goes on.

The air needs to be cleared for everyone's benefit. Here is where we could begin:

  1. Files should be thoroughly searched for missing and mis-placed documents. Perhaps the appointed township "deputies" could be put to good use here.
  2. A full independent forensic audit be conducted in order to identify areas of concern and to protect the Township Board of Trustees — and in particular the newly appointed clerk — as we move forward.

The missing files in conjunction with all of the other issues in the air are generating an aroma. When something doesn't smell right, often there is something rotten not far away. If nothing is done, we may very well lose the entire barrel.




36. Bah, Humbug

September 15, 2010

With the arrival of September, focus has turned toward those seasonal highlights that lay ahead. At the Monday evening Board of Trustees meeting, there was a proposal/request put forward for the 2010 version of the Olde Fashioned Christmas event. There have been 2 previous such events that were highly successful and much talked about within our community.

Backing up to August of 2009, the Board of Trustees approved the sanctioning of the event, and in so doing, asked the Women's Club to "host and run the event as promotion for the township". They also approved a $1,030.00 contribution to sponsor it for that year.

At the December 14, 2009 Board of Trustees meeting (a few days after the event), Lynn Morrison reported on the great success of the Olde Fashioned Christmas festivities. Suggestions were made that it would be desirable in the future for the entire community to become involved by expanding the scope with a variety of additional events at various venues. All present displayed enthusiasm.

Now, fast forward to September 13, 2010. A proposal was put forward for the 2010 Olde Fashioned Christmas event which included a repeat of the previous activities but enhanced and expanded to include a craft show & sale at the Township Hall as well as other related community events. Considerable preplanning had already been completed by the Women's Club and the event Chairperson Sharon Jacobs. A request for $1500 in funding assistance was included.

According to those present, what happened next ... you really had to be there. After contributing glowing accolades about the previous version of the event and basically ranting about the value to the community, our treasurer, Bette Tadajewski, scoffed at the dollar request (she has great skills in this department) by suggesting a MUCH lesser amount. At one point she even suggested that permission to use the Lighthouse and Township Hall facilities could be the township's contribution (and no dollars). What was this lady thinking? Here we have an event that is a promotion for the township (with enhancements suggested by the board); it has proven success, and this is how she wishes to support it? What an insult to the Women's Club and the entire community. Me thinks the lady has seen too much sun. Side point: it is believed that she has not attended the event in the past.

Fortunately, the other trustees had a bit more enlightened view, although Trustee Morrison did follow the in treasurer's steps (as if on a leash) for much of the discussion. However, the Board insists on their micro-managing and nit-picking ways but were at least able to approve use of facilities. As for the money? Perhaps next month.

You can only shake your head in disbelief. It would be quite understandable if the Women's Club simply told the board to "shove it" and cancelled the event. However, our community has great strength and resilience. It will survive.




35. If You Repeat A Lie Often Enough ...

September 12, 2010

William James (1842-1910), the father of modern Psychology stated: "There's nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it." Unfortunately, this has become an axiom of our time, and is practised on a global scale.

There are many different variations of this saying. From Vladimir Lenin, "A lie told often enough becomes truth". But the best known: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it....", is credited to Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda (1933-1945). He claimed the bigger the lie, the greater the likelihood that people would believe it. Similar words can also be found in Hitler's Mein Kampf. Actually Hitler said that was how he was able to get the people of Nazi Germany to discriminate against the Jews.

This is the strategy currently being applied in the effort to recall the township supervisor, Patrick Pokorski. Those behind the recall are drawing very strongly on the same methods employed in some of the darkest times of our history. The strength of the recall case is based on constantly repeated falsehoods. Lies are used to intimidate, manipulate and dominate. Rarely is there a civilized purpose.

Perhaps those behind the recall effort do not fully appreciate the tools they are employing. In so doing, those same mouth-pieces may not realize the company they keep — and their relationship with some of the most despicable players in history.

There is a press article related to this item. Click Here




34. Peter Weighs In

August 27, 2010

Following an August 20, 2010 Letter To The Editor of the Alpena News (Tag Line: Cutting Down Trees Should Not Be An Issue), the former Presque Isle Township Supervisor & Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee submitted a response comment to the online version. It reads as follows:

As the Chairman of Presque Isle Township Park and Recreation I can tell you first hand that there was never APPROVAL for any tree cutting. I had attended ALL Township and Park meetings and I do not remember you at many of are Park & Rec. meeting. There is a very easy way of putting this to rest- SHOW US THE MINUTES of the meetings that gives approval for the tree cutting.

We also draw your attention to the following from the minutes of the July 20, 2009 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee:

- Parking spaces at the New Lighthouse Park was another issue. We are looking into creating additional spaces by having a swath cut, from the 1905 House to the lake. Peter, Pat and Clayton will walk and mark the area and report back to this committee.

And finally from the minutes of the August 10, 2009 meeting of the Board of Trustees:

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).

Now, what does this tell you? Firstly, the planning for the "swath cut" had been in the works for several months. There had been discussion by the Parks and Recreation Committee and their intention was to clear it as soon as the park closed. The July 20th minutes indicate that Peter was not just a bystander, but a participant from the beginning. The August 10th minutes indicate that the project was a virtual fait accompli. The Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee delivered his report as a statement — not a question requesting permission to move forward.

Now Mr. Pettalia, in light of your professed knowledge, skills and expertise in governmental matters, should you in your role as Chairman of Parks and Recreation, not have been requesting permission (at that August 10 meeting) to move forward? Perhaps it is your failure to do so that has triggered the crisis of recent months. If you are the person of honor that you claim to be, then you will admit your share of the responsibility instead of playing the game of Pass The Hot Potato.

There is reader feedback on this item. Click Here




33. Revenue From Lighthouse Concession

August 11, 2010

Perhaps it is time for township citizens to pay a bit closer attention to the revenue (or lack of it) coming from the Lighthouse concession. At the Board of Trustees meeting on August 9, the topic of that revenue surfaced. It appears that only about $5500 has been realized to date this season when possibly 3 to 4 times that should have entered the township treasury. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that our treasurer seemed quite surprised by the revelation.

A couple years back, there was an issue of extended non-payment by the concessionaire that illustrated major shortcomings in the monitoring of those dollars. It is beginning to look like we might be there again. Our treasurer should face some serious questions as to how this issue has been allowed to happen for the second time. If anyone of us fail to pay our taxes, she is on you in a heartbeat — but thousands of dollars of overdue revenue sounds no alarm. Who is watching our money? Who is watching the person who is watching our money? Hopefully, we are not experiencing a "revenue leak".




32. Special Meeting of July 26

August 8, 2010

Some township Board of Trustee meetings are rich in fodder for an editorialist. Such was the case of the July 26th Special Meeting.

Firstly, notification of the meeting was given by the usual method — a note on the door of the township offices. Problem — Treasurer B. Tadajewski only learned about the meeting when she arrived. Well Bette, join the crowd! At least you knew about it before it happened — a privilege not extended to most of the citizens of the township. This only emphasizes the issue of Special Meeting notification. As we have suggested before, a sandwich board announcing these meetings should be displayed on the roadside in front of the township offices. Of course, none of the trustees will be reading this editorial and thus will not be aware of a very simple solution. AND, if they did sneak a peek, it would be a violation of their principles to act upon it — even if it was in the best interests of the community.

The purpose of the meeting was to interview candidates for the vacant trustee position. However, only 2 of the 3 candidates were available — looks like another "special meeting"!

Perhaps concerns should be raised about the interview procedure. Each candidate made a presentation and answered questions during the 10-15 minute interview — a very common process. As it turned out, only 4 people (plus the candidates) were in attendance — but what if it had been a full house? It was a public meeting and a large audience could have been present. It is not inconceivable that a "grilling" could occur. Would such an environment be reasonable and fair for the candidates? Perhaps this could be looked at for the future.

And finally, township employee E. Comerford, questioned trustees as to the status of her position. In our opinion, she is probably the glue that keeps the leaky boat afloat. Our advice is for her to look out for number 1. As valuable as she is to our township, she should do what is best for her. In this day, employers can be fickle.




31. Over-stepping Boundaries

August 4, 2010

A July 21st Feedback submission, "Anonymous Letters", made reference to a letter that surfaced after the July 12th Board of Trustees meeting. A thank you to J.P. who responded to the request for a copy of the text. Although it was originally classed as anonymous, that is no longer the case. Since the letter was directed at the Presque Isle Harbor Association and certain of its members, it will not be reproduced here. It did contain references pertaining to PIHA property adjacent to the township cemetery. An editorial commentary on that letter is in order.

The author of the letter is not a member of Presque Isle Township government, although probably believes that she is. To our knowledge, she has no status within the township other than that of a concerned citizen who wishes to be involved. To our knowledge, she is not a member of the Presque Isle Harbor Association and has no status other than as a guest. The content of her letter levelled criticisms and accusation and made demands not in keeping with her relationship to either Presque Isle Township or PIHA. She is reminded that the property adjacent to the cemetery is private property in which she has no stake. Until such time as she or the township has been granted some rights regarding that piece of real estate, she should cease and desist and stand clear.




30. "Cemetery Trees"

August 1, 2010

In the township supervisor recall issue, a lot of fuss has been made regarding the tree cutting on the private property adjacent to the cemetery. The facts should be laid clear.

Firstly, the property is owned by the Presque Harbor Association — a private corporation of property owners. The cutting of the trees on that property was done with the permission of the association and not in the manner espoused by those behind the recall. The PIHA was sharing the services of the tree cutting contractor to enhance vehicular visability of a curved section of road along their property. On the day that the "cemetery tree cutting" took place, PIHA Executive Director Steve Lang attended the site along with several association property owners. The PIHA on that day and since, has not had an issue with respect to what took place. Everyone will acknowledge, however, that some unfortunate cutting mishaps and errors took place, but those things happen when working in the woods. It must be emphasized that there is no issue with the PIHA regarding those events.




29. Musings From The Restroom Wall

July 13, 2010

Reports coming out of last night's Board of Trustees Meeting indicate opinions were expressed regarding the anonymous letters and other information being distributed within the community. Comments equated those communiqués to the writings on the wall of a public restroom. Historically, if you were looking for a good time, then ................. no, no, no, no, I don't think that was what the meeting commenters had in mind. The analogy is a bit off, but catchy, at least. It made the point. Since the Shadow was specifically implicated, a response is in order.

We are not in the publishing industry. We are not The New York Times, nor People Magazine, nor the Alpena News — nor do we pretend to be. Nor do we dance to the tune of advertisers. AND we do not follow the generally accepted protocols dictated by any industry — protocols created in another century. We are in a new era in communication. We are our own entity. You are an intelligent reader. Take us however you will. All we expect is that you use your intelligence and not dismiss us just because you don't like the protocols of today. To do so, you stick your head in the sand — leaving another part of your anatomy in a position to be easily kicked.

This website has a significant following, considering the size of our community. In fact, several township officials regularly peruse our pages (and openly say they don't read the Shadow). If you run the risk of being bitten, are you not going to be keeping an eye open? In spite of some that call our content "all lies", we continually present items that are hard documented facts — but possibly not with the spin you would prefer. The published feedback and editorials frequently point out issues that others would rather not face but allow the reader to see another viewpoint.

Our township board may wish to formally denounce what we (and others) do — but what is the point? The mere fact that the topic has surfaced in several board meetings proves that the public is aware. To say anything lends legitimacy to what is being condemned. We (and the public) are watching the board and they in turn are watching us. The Board of Trustees does not want to stick their heads into the sand again as that already tender exposure does not need any more licks.




28. Special Meeting Notification

July 10, 2010

The following quote was taken from the minutes of the June 21 Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees.

B. Tadajewski responded that she thinks that's a different issue, and she didn't want it discussed at a special meeting. She had a really bad feeling about special meetings. They're clandestine; things are done behind people's back. Yes, the requirements were met by posting it, but the general public does not stop and look at that door everyday.

Trustee Tadajewski has the situation pegged — clandestine. With the rash of recent Special Meetings, things are happening with the community excluded because they don't peek at the front door or they are not privileged enough to receive that phone call. Finding out a day or two later breeds resentment and suspicion. Does this board need more angry taxpayers?

Special Meetings will continue to be called (but at a reduced rate, one would hope) and notices will continue to be posted on the front door. Here are a couple of suggestions that may help communicate the notifications:

  1. As soon as a special meeting is called (board or any committee), immediately post the notification on the front page of the website. Office staff should be able to perform that task with only a 5 - 10 minute time investment.
  2. Place a sandwich board with the meeting notification next to the Township Office Sign at the parking lot entrance.
If the above were done, knowledge of these special meeting calls would increase 20 fold, or more. Our community deserves better in this area.




27. Independance Day Events

July 9, 2010

Parade around lighthouseSaturday, July 3 saw Presque Isle Township celebrate Independence Day with its annual Picnic at the New Lighthouse Park, followed by the evening fireworks show at the harbor. Attendance was excellent at both events. A full picnic atmosphere during the day focussed on children's events, complete with a parade around the lighthouse, along with the hot dogs and brat fare for everyone's tummy.

Dusk saw the annual fireworks show that all look forward to. The sky lit up with never-ending color and the reverberating booms that we have come to expect. The finale was awesome! Comments from those in attendance confirmed that the show was most impressive — many claiming the best in the history of the event.

The Parks and Recreation Committee must be complimented in their efforts to make the day memorable. Specifically, those volunteers that stepped forward to ensure that the event came off are due thanks from all of us. Specifically, Trustee Morrison should be noted as the individual who dug deep and made sure that the fireworks tradition continued. We look forward to next year.

Photo credit: Presque Isle Advance

Please keep in mind that fireworks not only create a great ending for a great day, but come with a price tag. Fund raising is required to ensure that it continues. Please be generous. Remember the thrill and excitement you experienced that evening, when asked to financially assist.




26. Rumors ...

July 7, 2010

Rumors have been swirling in recent days as to changes in key personnel within the township. Due to the significance involved, we will not feed those rumors other than to point out the origin. When you look at the Township Officials page (dated July 2) on the township website, you will notice that the position of clerk is listed as vacant. Since the monthly Board of Trustees meeting is only days away, it is best to wait for it to clarify that issue.

While you are viewing the same page on the township website, you might also note the roster for the Parks & Recreation Committee. The name, Barbara Nichols, appears as a member — peculiar, as that name has not shown up in any minutes as having been appointed. Additionally, the quantity of positions listed is 7 for a committee capped at 6, plus a board liaison person (who has been Trustee Morrison). We can only assume that the new name is present in error.

While you are visiting the township website, take a look at the minutes for the June 21, 2010 Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees. What you will see is something rather unusual for published minutes within this township. They read more as a transcript rather than the sanitized version that we normally see. The text is very difficult to follow — not unlike your experience would be had you been present at that meeting. As you struggle through those minutes, you will get a very clear image of what we have been pointing out from the onset — the inability of this board to move forward. They are hamstrung by red tape and can only see how to stall things rather than facilitate. It ultimately took 3 meetings to deal with issues that didn't warrant 5 minutes of their time. Truly, a black eye for our township.




25. Recall Clarity Hearing

July 2, 2010

As reported by the Alpena News and also posted elsewhere on this site, the Clarity Hearing on the recall of Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski was held on June 30 in Rogers City. Although the County Elections Commission panel was not in agreement on some of the points, the petition was approved. The next step is a potential appeal to the Circuit Court.

Regardless of your views, this is the process and it must be allowed to play out. If it goes the distance, ultimately the issue will be placed into the hands of the electors a number of months from now. We can only hope that emotions have settled to the point where clear, rational heads come into view. In the meantime, those electors who have not been paying full attention during the past 18 months will have the opportunity to do their homework and research all the issues on the table. It is very easy to be influenced by the visuals along with the emotional and dramatic arguments put forward. You may have to do some digging to convince yourself of the real facts. What you must also take into consideration is that this process will have to be funded by our township — potentially 2 elections — paid for by your taxes.

As for the hearing itself, the strong turnout of support for the Supervisor was in sharp contrast with that of the other side. The sponsor of the petition was not even present. Was such an absence unusual? Perhaps it was arrogance — thought it would be a "slam dunk", and didn't need to waste his time by showing up. Perhaps he was afraid to face possible challenges to his petition. Maybe he just forgot. Regardless, his absence was notable.

The rationale for this exercise can be argued from many directions. Has the Supervisor stepped on the wrong toes? Has his "reaching out to the community" ruffled some feathers? Has his efforts to do something in a do nothing environment drawn the bullseye on his back? Or is he just from the wrong side of the tracks? Circumstance does give credibility to the politics theory — "dirty politics". Perhaps a comment attached to the Alpena News article says it best: "I smell Pettalia all over this."

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Go to Editorial Archives prior to July 2, 2010

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
... Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!