ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.
If there is such a thing as a contest among local government units for bad behavior, the winner thus far is Dorr Township, hands down. Dorr is so far ahead of everybody else in this category that it would take a miracle to overtake it.
Though Dorr seems to lead the league with monthly displays of bad boardsmanship, there a few others that occasionally “get in the game” with troubling outbursts. A few examples:
• Martin Township Planning Commissioner Marge Smith asking the now late Jerry Dan Patrick about being related to a convicted murderer.
• Hopkins Township Supervisor Mark Evans refusing to explain why he cast the only dissenting vote on an issue.
• The choreographed removal of Jeff Salisbury as Wayland Board of Education president because he “wasn’t a team player.”
• The stunning compliance of the Wayland Planning Commission in the orchestrated removal of Chairman J.D. Gonzales for no reason, at the suggestion of a member who served for only three months.
Now comes the Leighton Township Board, with its puzzling and disturbing public invitation to sign petitions for a part-time legislature. It happened in public session last Thursday night, when Leighton Treasurer Char Troost asked everyone in the audience if they’d like to sign the petitions and saying they were on the table in front of the board members.
Just like the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament reminds us, there is a time and a place for every purpose under heaven. A public meeting of a duly-elected government unit should be neither the time nor the place for soliciting petition signatures on a partisan issue.
This infraction is minor, and not even illegal, but it flies in the face of good government practices. It gives credence to critical accusations that in our modern public spaces “the game is rigged, the table is tilted.”
While there is no such thing as a person who is totally objective, any appearance of bias in open public session seems unfair. The Township Treasurer was clearly showing her bias in favor of the petition’s objective, to replace the current State Legislature with part-time officials. The measure is being championed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who now is a candidate for governor.
I wouldn’t be writing this if the audience would have been encouraged to sign petitions after the public meeting had concluded, even though it’s a public space. My issue is with having a captive audience and public officials trying to get their constituents to do something political on public time.
Once again, it is not illegal. But it is disappointing to see and hear Leighton Township join the dishonour list of bad government practices.