ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.
The problems of gridlock and poisonous atmosphere at Dorr Township Board meetings lay squarely at the feet of Trustees John Tuinstra and Patty Senneker. I’ve said so before, and I’ll say it again.
This dynamic duo joined the board in December 2012 and since then they have nearly wrecked local government. I learned that fundamentalist zealots are lousy public officials because they spend too much time debating silly issues while stonewalling things that need to be done. Indeed.
Both Tuinstra and Senneker have made fools of themselves and turned Dorr Township into the laughing stock of township government in Allegan County. Dorr Township Clerk Brian Boot, who was elected as their ally in 2012, has come to his senses and broken ranks since, but at a cost of letting himself be dragged down into the cesspool that is tedious debate at public meetings.
Boot last Tuesday night offered a heartfelt apology for the vitriol at meetings and absorbed some of the blame. Then he and Tuinstra spent a good share of the rest of the evening doing point-counter point on policies and procedures. I submit that Tuinstra is very skillful at pushing Boot’s buttons, turning the normally mild-mannered clerk into a hostile and annoyed combatant.
Senneker did essentially the same thing two years ago to former Supervisor Tammy VanHaitsma, who eventually resigned. I urge Boot to stand his ground and not let the terrible twosome run him off as well.
Submitted for your approval, my first editorial after Senneker and Tuinstra were first seated:
“The Dorr Township Board meeting Thursday evening was a political dog and pony show… new people on the board in their first meeting barely hid their contempt for the four remaining incumbents and played a game you could sing to the tune from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ that promised ‘Anything you are for, I am agin it.’
“…They seemed to march in lockstep in efforts to derail even the most humdrum and routine matters municipalities deal with while governing. Boot, Senneker and Tuinstra spent a great deal of time filibustering and obstructing on even some of the most mundane matters in Thursday night’s meeting, which stretched all the way to 10:15 p.m.”
Sound familiar? Has anything changed?
But don’t forget Boot had the critical thinking skills necessary to understand that he had been wrong and has changed his tune since then.
I wrote in the fall of 2013:
“If you’ve wondered about the gridlock and congressional inaction that takes place in Washington and need a primer on how it’s done closer to home, just show up once a month at a Dorr Township meeting… Some political junkies show up to watch the circus. Some who show up are not amused.”
Tuinstra has not changed his personal philosophy as a public official since he committed the crime of singlehandedly stopping the demolition of the Graczyk property and buildings to make way for the recreation park expansion. He was unapologetic about going renegade behind the backs of the remaining members of the Township Board in his unswerving belief the park instead should be made into some kind of updated Plank Road Farm, which went belly up more than three decades ago.
Much of the tedious debate last Tuesday night zeroed in on Tuinstra’s insistence that he alone knows how to govern best. He and Senneker put that notion to a test a year ago in a primary election in which Supervisor Jeff Miling collected more votes than they both did combined.
The real task ahead here is that in order to stop continuing this madness, the voters of Dorr Township must retire Tuinstra and Senneker to the sidelines in the August 2016 primary. Some need to step forward to run and most need to pay attention to what’s been going on and act accordingly.
Throw the rascals out.