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Township Residents Speak Out Against 'Robo-Call'

Town Hall was packed Monday night with angry and frustrated residents concerned with politics in West Bloomfield.

Updated: 8:58 a.m., May 15, 2012

Residents angered and frustrated by a lawsuit brought in September 2010 by Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste and Trustee Steven Kaplan against West Bloomfield Township packed Town Hall Monday night after allegedly receiving a "robo-call" Sunday morning in support of the two government officials.

Residents at the meeting said it made mention of Trustee Larry Brown’s election to defer income earned at township board meetings ($125 per meeting) to a benevolent fund he established in 2009 in order to help township residents struggling with their water and sewer bills to keep their water on.

As part of the lawsuit, Economou Ureste and Kaplan claim that Brown should pay taxes on the income.

The item had been placed on the agenda in order to review the status of the lawsuit and the cost to taxpayers. Township attorney Gary Dovre said the suit, pending in appeals court, currently amounts to more than $39,000 in attorney fees.

"I’m urging the board members to use the truth for your township. Your constituents are watching you. We’re listening and watching this mud-slinging. It has the opposite effect," said Diane Rosenfeld Swimmer, a candidate for trustee in the Aug. 7 primary election.

Barbara Reider, an 42-year resident, said that the robo-call kept her up all night in anger.

"Last night, we get this call. I couldn’t believe it. I handed it to my husband, who said the same thing. I guess I’m even madder still that it kept me up all night. I can’t stand to see people persecuted for being charitable," Reider said.

The case was last in front of a judge in April 2011, when Rudy Nichols of Oakland County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the defendants on the issue involving Brown. Oral arguments on the appeal are scheduled for June 12.

Economou Ureste and Kaplan were not in attendance Monday night. Executive assistant Pat Chapin said that Economou Ureste was dealing with a dental emergency. No reason was given for Kaplan’s absence.

Board resolves to oppose oil and gas drilling

The fears of West Bloomfield residents concerned about the recent purchase of oil and gas drilling rights in town were heard by the board, who passed a resolution in opposition of oil and gas drilling in West Bloomfield.

Resident Kathy Chiaravalli attended a state auction May 9 during which Jordan Development of Traverse City purchased much of the available 18,347 acres in Oakland County, including land surrounded by that which is currently owned by the township, private property owners, or other institutions. She brought the matter to the attention of local government officials in fear of her home waterfront on Cass Lake becoming polluted by the water-intensive practice of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

Drilling and extraction operators are not allowed to condemn property, thus they can't force property owners out, according to a May 4 letter by township development services director Marshall Labadie. He continued that he could not imagine a business model succeeding if drillers were forced into small tracts of land. 

In order to give "teeth" to the resolution, the board voted unanimously to direct township attorneys to draft an ordinance prohibiting drilling, but Dovre said that a zoning ordinance would be difficult to pass. Instead, Dovre will work with Labadie to draft an ordinance prohibiting drilling under environmental regulations.

Ronelle Grier May 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Using technology to spread false statements that defame someone else violates the anti-bullying policies in our State government and school districts. If Ureste and Kaplan were students, they could be facing expulsion for these robo-calls! How shameful that these public officials are setting this kind of example for our citizens and our children.
MIchelle May 15, 2012 at 06:02 PM
All seven township board members should not be re-elected in the August primary if you listen to what they have to say about one another and about the new pawn for Supervisor in this drama. Supervisor Ecomomu Ureste - A very immature and petty leader who follows bad advice from Steven Kaplan. A lady said last night that Ureste wants to get rid of the new police chief. Maybe all seven of them will waste our taxpayer dollars again and pay this police chief to leave like they did with the previous one. Steve Kaplan - The mastermind of the township takeover by the slate of Ureste, Brown, Shaunessey, Weingarden, and himself. They were all going to get along until Brown, Shaunessey and Weingarden proved to be resistent to his charm and foolish plots. This guy has lost a lot of respect since returning to the township board. Catherine Shaunessey - How do you say dictator? She is the queen of dirty politics. She played dirty politics in the last election and then gave her political consultant a township job and hired her best friend that turned a blind eye to her negative tactics. She has brought down employee morale and talks down to the attorneys. She also displays unprofessional behavior by publically brow beating township employees.
MIchelle May 15, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Larry Brown - Brown tried to give with one hand and then tried to take with another. Why would he run for the township board when he knew that he was part owner of the billing company that would profit from the new waste management agreement? Clearly, he should be able to understand "conflict of interest". He should not be insulted that Kaplan and Ureste wanted him to pay taxes on his township earnings. He can donate to a charitable fund with after tax monies just like the rest of us do. However, Ureste and Kaplan are just plain insensitive if they can pursue a lawsuit over a matter that helps township residents survive during a financial hardship. Howard Rosenberg - Sometiems, mean, mean, and mean. He comes off as a rough, hardcore, take no prisoners leader. What is he so mad/unhappy about?
MIchelle May 15, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Teri Weingarden - Now if the stories are true that Rosenberg, Brown, Shaunessey and Farber tell, Weingarden is unable to handle her job responsibilities. On camera they all talk down to her when she is giving her financial reports. Are they still mad that they had to use taxpayer's dollars to hire a finance expert to teach and help her manage the financial matters of the township? They appear to still believe that she needs help. Thus, Gene Farber running against her. Gene Farber - Smart, Kind and Calculating. He takes every opportunity possible to highlight her shortcomings so that he can pursue her job. If she is that bad, Farber should have called for a vote of no confidence a long time ago.
Lorna McEwen May 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Lorna McEwen I am attaching the statement that I made at the township board meeting: My pleasant Sunday evening was rudely interrupted by a “robo” call professing to inform me of the questionable behavior of three trustees and the Clerk of the West Bloomfield Township Board. The message was sent on behalf of the supervisor and another trustee. The message was rude, mean-spirited and factually incorrect, and it was obviously sent in an effort to begin a campaign to defeat the board members it disparaged. I have lived in this township for 46 years. I have spent thousands of hours on many projects which have improved the quality of life in this township. I have seen supervisors come and go beginning with John Doherty and including Dorothy MacIntosh, Sandra Drauer, Jeddy Hood and David Flaisher. I have never seen a mud-slinging campaign like this. It is not worthy of a civilized community. Those of you who are running for office should run on your accomplishments of the past four years and outline the way you hope to serve in the next four years if you are elected. You won’t get my vote if your idea of campaigning is to sling mud at your opposition, most especially if the mud is based on erroneous information. And, in fact you have already lost my vote by launching this opening salvo.
MIchelle May 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM
What have they done as a team? They misused forty thousand dollars of taxpayer monies to get rid of the police chief when they could have voted him out. They raised our taxes for police and fire without knowing how much of an increase was really needed. . I don't call over taxing homeowners a positive development. They approved a waste management company that leaves as much trash on the streets as they take away. They have managed to make it appear as if seven democrats, five of which loved one another enough to run together in 2008, can't put the interest of the residents above their own political ambition. All seven should be voted out.
Capshun May 16, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Michelle, You nailed it with very good descriptions of these people. What kind of judgment must these people have that less than 4 years ago, they strongly supported each other as most qualified to "lead" the community.

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