It’s foolhardy to apply term limits policy to Dorr Township

ACHTUNG: This is not a fair and balanced story. It is an editorial by the editor.

It continues to amaze me how many people still are misled by the promise and failure of term limits. This nasty business reared its ugly head once again Thursday night at the Dorr Township Board meeting.

Trustee John Tuinstra, a public official with whom I have been known to disagree with frequently over the past five years, provided the fodder by casting the only vote against reappointing the venerable Ethel Visser to the Zoning Board of Appeals very simply because she has served for 42 years. The proven failed thinking here is that fresh blood is needed now and then, regardless of whether or not the veteran official has served well and regardless of whether the replacement is a greenhorn.

Imagine terminating a quality employee because he or she has been on the job for a long time. That’s what too many term limits proponents suggest. They even insist our Founding Fathers didn’t intend for people to serve for so long, yet there is nothing in the hallowed U.S. Constitution that calls for term limits.

Michigan has been a horrible victim of this process for far too long, more than two decades. Glenn Steil, who was elected a State Senator, was the most visible champion of the movement that eventually resulted in State Legislators being limited to three, two-year terms, and State Senators and the governor to two, four-year terms. What we the people of this state have gotten since has been nothing short of disastrous. Even Steil himself came to understand that it wasn’t such a good idea after he left office. And he said so.

The State Representative from these parts back in those days was Paul Hillegonds, a Republican who did his job well and even prompted the likes of me to support him. Since he was ousted by term limits, we’ve seen a parade of bozos that has included Patty Birkholz, Fulton Sheen, Bob Genetski, Kenneth Yonker, Cindy Gamrat, Steven Johnson and even Mary Whiteford, none of whom are fit to untie Hillegonds’ shoelaces.

Michigan’s State Legislature has been nothing short of a huge failure in the very important game of solving problems over the past 21 years. Our infrastructure, particularly roads, our education system, the Flint water crisis and a host of other troubling developments have occurred while the boys and girls in Lansing have sat on their hands doing the bidding of rich and powerful lobbyists and special interests. They have done very little, if anything, for the people of Allegan County.

So Tuinstra’s suggestion Thursday night was alarmingly naive, embracing a system that has been proven as ineffective over the years as trick-down economics. And he wanted to apply it to Dorr Township to get rid of Mrs. Visser, a long-time loyal and effective public servant.

Tuinstra dug an even deeper hole Thursday when he said he doesn’t have anything against Larry Dolegowski, but he believes his more than 20 years on the Planning Commission is enough. Mr. Tuinstra speaks with forked tongue — he helped engineer the failed recall of Dolegowski six years ago and he has tried to remove Bob Wagner, the chairman of the Planning Commission for more than 40 years.

While it is true that public officials who aren’t doing a good job or aren’t showing up to enough meetings indeed should be shown the door, Supervisor Jeff Miling was absolutely correct when he told Tuinstra that people still doing a good job over a long period of time should be retained. You don’t fire a quality employee for longevity, unless they demonstrate they no longer have the time, ability or desire to continue.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


  • I am opposed to term limits. I served on both the Planning Commission and the Board of Appeals in Dorr Township. The experience and history stored in the heads of veterans such as Bob Wagner Ethel Visser and Larry Dolegowski was invaluable to me and to our community. Of course we need to encourage new members and benefit from fresh ideas but someone has to know what they are doing and has to be there to guide freshman members. Good government is a team effort and hard work. I appreciate the dedication public servants like Bob, Ethel and Larry.

    • Ms. Slater,
      Well said. I have worked with all three and find them great servants of the people of Dorr.

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