Should West Bloomfield Candidates Ever Sue Each Other?
Township Board of Trustees candidates talk divisiveness and law at voters forum Wednesday.
As the entire West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees is essentially seeking re-election, a series of lawsuits which divided the board has been a hot-button issue during the campaign.
Candidates in the West Bloomfield Township Aug. 7 primary including those running for supervisor, clerk, treasurer, and trustee touched on that and a wide range of issues at the League of Women Voters-sponsored event Wednesday at the Main Library.
Jonathan Warshay, who is running for supervisor, was among many candidates pledging not to sue the township board majority.
Last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court decision against the plantiffs — Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste and Trustee Steven Kaplan — of a suit brought against the township board majority. The suit sought ruling on four issues, most of them involving the power of the board majority against the power of the supervisor.
In weeks leading up to the election, Warshay has spoken at public meetings on numerous occasions decrying the suit, which has reportedly cost taxpayers more than $36,000.
Economou Ureste said that she spent $5,000 out of her own pocket on litigation. Kaplan suggested that the suit was a "last resort," in order to ensure good government.
"That didn't mean that other majority members should have expanded the legal fees by seeking omissions to dismiss and just let the ruling happen," Economou Ureste said.
Trustee Howard Rosenberg claimed that the suit was "the source of all the strife in the township."
However, other suits pitting board members against one another have been said to cause strife and a possible waste of resources.
Trustee Larry Brown made headlines in 2010 by filing suit against Economou Ureste for defamation of character and by filing suit against the West Bloomfield Police Department for failing to act properly on a Freedom of Information Act request.
"If anybody out there feels that if you're being slandered or libeled that you shouldn't do anything about it after a while, I'd like to meet you. But I think if you have a good reputation then you'd like to keep it up," Brown said.
The incumbents' responses to those questions did not satisfy Pearl Walker, a West Bloomfield resident who was among about 50 who made up the live audience at one point. Walker, 55, said that she was unimpressed by performances of the slate of candidates.
"I wish there were more to pick from ... I think that what happened is that we elected a lot of people (in 2008) who were just not qualified."
"Over the past four years, there have been some compromising positions and it has not been easy. You just have to do the best you can do, do the right thing, and hopefully through the election process we have the right candidates," Economou Ureste said.
For more on West Bloomfield Township government, visit the Elections 2012 page on West Bloomfield Patch.
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