Supervisor stalemate continues in township

Clarkston News Editor

The October 5 Independence Township Board of Trustees regular meeting ended just like the last several – with no appointment of a new supervisor as the trustees could not come to a conclusive decision on who to replace now-retired Pat Kittle, who stepped down after the September 7 meeting.
With the trustees continuing to make motions that do not get a majority vote, the township could be heading for a special election in May at a cost of potentially more than $40,000 to the taxpayers.
If a new supervisor is not appointed by October 22, the county has five days to call the special election, which would tentatively be scheduled for May 3.
Barb Pallotta, who retired in 2019 as the township clerk, attended the October 5 meeting and urged the trustees to come to an agreement.
“I think what really triggered my interest was when those swear words ‘special election’ came up, and I knew I had to get involved,” Pallotta said. “I don’t look at a special election as an option. I look at it as a last resort. Money is secondary to putting our future in the hands of not only the county, but also the two political parties. We don’t get to pick our candidates. That’s really not what we want to do. COVID really brought that to the forefront because since the whole pandemic started, what has happened is the federal government has usurped the states’ responsibilities and the law. The state usurps the county, the county usurps the local, and so on and so on.
“Do we really want to do that? I have to say no.”
Also at the meeting, Gerald Fisher, a longtime township resident and past township attorney and former chairman of the board for the Oakland County Parks, addressed the board on his willingness to apply for the supervisor job should the application process reopen.
A motion was made to do just that, but the motion failed.
Pallotta added in her opinion, current township trustees Jose Aliaga and Paul Brown should run in the 2022 general election and the township should bring in an outsider to take over as supervisor.
Another motion was made to appoint Dale Stuart as supervisor, but that motion failed as well. Stuart was present at the meeting via the Webex video feature that the township has used since the onset of COVID in the spring of 2020.
Township attorney Dan Kelly clarified the notion of the township potentially having a superintendent in place in the near future.
“There is a statute that allows for a township to employ a township superintendent,” Kelly said. “It is in the board’s authority to do that.”
Kelly explained voting for a superintendent would be “to kind of put a stopgap in place to cover us maybe for the next couple of weeks or months, depending on where we end up.”
The superintendent would not sit and vote as a board member, one major difference between a superintendent and a supervisor.
With no supervisor in place, the board voted unanimously at the October 5 meeting to delegate duties to board members until a supervisor is in place.
The next regular trustees meeting is scheduled for October 19 at 6 p.m. from Independence Township Hall. This would be the last regular meeting to appoint a supervisor until the October 22 deadline when the county would step in and call for the special election.

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