Army Bob: Drain Dorr’s political swamp before it costs you

Mr. John Tuinstra should resign from the Dorr Township Board before he costs every citizen of Dorr Township a good bit of money.

Let’s talk about the actions of elected officials and the impact they have on us all. When a person is elected to office they become our agent, our representative; we become obligated to pay for their infractions of civil tort laws if broken in the name of the people.

Mr. Tuinstra, a trustee on the Dorr Township Board, illegally recorded three members of the Dorr Township Planning Commission and at least three private citizens using a clandestine recording device. He did this acting in the name of the people of the township. Tuinstra has admitted to the unlawful act, dismissing it as a mere oversight.

The citizens of Dorr are on the hook for damages if a civil suit arises from Mr. Tuinstra’s illegal actions. Court costs and damages could be in the tens of thousands of dollars that Dorr Township just doesn’t have to waste. It’s incredibly childish to open every taxpayer in Dorr to liability for illegal actions.

Mr. Tuinstra, who listed his superior educational accomplishments in correspondence to the Planning Commission, wishes the people of Dorr Township to accept that he is just too irresponsible to remember he was recording a group of citizens after a meeting was over and he had departed the building. The recording device was placed in an area that it took an unusually tall person, six feet three, to notice, and then only when coming from a side door not normally used during meetings.

Past conflicts in the township will lead anyone to suspect Tuinstra was attempting to prove that a violation of the Michigan Open Meeting Act was occurring after the Planning Commission meeting was adjourned. Trustee Terri Rios, a confederate of Mr. Tuinstra, has attempted on a number of occasions to remove Bob Wagner, sitting chairperson of the Dorr Township Planning Commission. This unlawful wiretapping action appears to be an ill-advised and unlawful extension of that effort.

Members of the Dorr Township Board are out of control, and at least the two trustees involved in this outrageous violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens of Dorr Township must resign. The actions of the two trustees named in this unlawful act will cost us all; you as a taxpayer in Dorr will be required to pay for their violation of your rights — how fair is that?

The investigative time line in this case leads us to conclude the guilt of Mr. Tuinstra:

A.  A complaint is made by Trustee Rios, brand new Planning Commission member, stating the very successful Planning Commission chairperson for more than 40 years is (in her opinion) incompetent.

B.  An effort is made to charge the Planning Commission for a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

C.  A vote by six of the seven members of the Township Board to remove the Planning Commission chairperson is taken, resulting in a tie.

D. An emotional public plea from Trustee Rios to remove the Planning Commission chairman is presented.

E.  A second vote is taken and the chairman of the Planning Commission is reappointed 4-3, resulting in harsh words to be passed between the Dorr Board factions.

F.  Private citizens just like you and three members of the Planning Commission are illegally taped by Tuinstra, an ally of Trustee Rios, in an apparent attempt to persecute the Planning Commission.

G. Tuinstra states he did nothing wrong, but admits to planting the tape recorder, and says victims of his illegal taping and those angry that he illegally taped them, “they need to be big enough to get over it.”

Washington is not the only swamp that must be drained. Demand their resignations or open your wallet to pay your hard-earned money for their arrogance. Any of the six illegally recorded victims can file for damages or file criminal charges.

Violating the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens is the most dangerous of all. No one, even elected officials, are above the law.

The good citizens of Dorr should attend the next Township Board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, and demand Tuinstra resign. We in Dorr are mad as hell and we are not going to take it any more.


  • Well Army Bob
    We both know there are very few residents in Dorr Township who are willing to take a position against these people…
    Most good residents fail to see the the problem here because at this time 90% of the township feels this and other illegal things do not affect them directly… They fail to see their tax dollars slowly being drained because of mistakes a few board members have made and not been corrected, these few are still running rampant…
    Time to make our tax dollars finally work… get him in court.

  • I read Bob’s column late last night and again this morning with such a sense of empathy for him. In it I hear his frustration, anger, disappointment and outrage, not just toward individuals but toward the political conditions that appear to exist in Dorr in general. I no longer live in the area, so I have no right to comment or pass judgment on the people or situation. But, like Bob, I have had an active civic life, and I understand the anguish he must be feeling that there are participants in this drama who have personal agendas involved in their service to the community, rather than the overall welfare of the people to whom they should be dedicating their elections or appointments.
    When I served on the Wayland Union Board of Education (1990-1995, many long moons ago) I was so fortunate that almost everyone serving at that time shared the ideal that we were there for the benefit of the students as well as to represent their tax-paying parents. We didn’t always agree on every issue, but we did share respect for divergent opinions, and we were willing to accept, graciously, results of votes with which we disagreed. We followed accepted protocols, we did not undercut each other with gossip or public accusation.
    I haven’t known Bob long, and, at that, it’s been through his writings. But I’m a pretty good judge of character, even from such little exposure to a person as his heartfelt columns. He seems a very thoughtful man, well educated and possessing a wealth of valuable life experience. Today he has shown me his passion for serving his community appropriately, because he is rightly outraged by the actions of some of his fellow public servants.
    It is my hope that the good people of Dorr can set aside what appears to be years of political distress so that their trusted officials can do the peoples’ work for a continued quality community. I would wish upon those officials the same mature, ideals-guided collegiality that I experienced back in the 90s. Nothing is quite so rewarding as serving in an atmosphere of open acceptance of one’s disagreements and commonalities.

  • Mrs. Mandaville,
    Thank you for the comment.
    I served for many years on an Illinois State Finance Authority that had over site on bankrupt schools. Boards of Education borrowing money they had no chance of ever paying back to foster an agenda hurt a lot of good folks.
    Officials with power bestowed on them by the people need to understand the law is there to protect the people from them. This crime is an example of elected officials seeing themselves as above the law.
    I never commented on the problems with in the Dorr Township Board before this, as I looked at it as differences of opinion and Democracy at work. Committing a felony to gain political advantage is just old fashion wrong.

  • If Trustee Tuinstra has committed a felony, has any member of the public or member of the Planning Commission contacted the Allegan County Prosecutors office to lodge a complaint so an arrest warrant for Trustee Tuinstra can be issued?

    I don’t condone secretly recording conversations, even between people appointed, elected to any government post and/or private citizens voicing opinions.

    If a felony was committed we should see charges being reported sooner than later.

    As unsatisfying as it may be, those whose convesrsations were recorded may find the law is murky based on interpretation of the MI Open Meetings Act.

    Suggested it before, Dorr Township needs to make rules and probably make some provisions to at video tape it’s meetings and set some rules so people like Trustee Tuinstra has no wiggle room for any excuse for his covert recording.

    If the voters in Dorr see Mr. Tuinstra’s name on the ballot if he decides to run and re-elect him, they get the local government they deserve.

    One needs to look no further than a few miles east where Township Supervisor Deer was re-elected running unopposed and got over 2400 votes with 30 write ins opposed. All he did was be a partner in an air park and belatedly announce his involvement.

    • I’m sure Mr. Deer can defend himself, but he announced he was partner in the proposed air park and has not voted and not even been in attendance for the air park meetings. He is a good public steward for Leighton Township. If you don’t like his comments in meetings or his voting record, attack that, not the person. I’ve know Steve for some years (before he was Supervisor) and he is a considerate, thoughtful, and truthful man in any interaction with him. Leighton Township is lucky to have him as supervisor.

  • Couchman,
    Thank you for the comment.
    The open meeting act is indeed murky, but this falls under the wire tap laws, State and Federal.

    • So is the next step going to Michigan AG’s office or the US Attonery in Grand Rapids?

      Are members of the Planning Commision going to file the complaint or will that be the responsibility of the township Board of Trustees?

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