Macomb TownshipAugust 1, 2012
Final board meeting sets tone for election
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Rebuttals of election fraud allegations and lambasting of the township supervisor for an accusatory press release he issued occupied much of the July 25 trustee meeting.
A lawsuit filed July 19 by plaintiff Mark Maiuri — a Macomb resident — claims Clerk Michael Koehs and supervisor candidate and current Trustee Janet Dunn committed election fraud.
The lawsuit is based on research conducted by campaign aides for clerk candidate Cathy Imbronone and supervisor candidate Charles Missig.
“I am appalled that Mr. Koehs and Mrs. Dunn would go so far to secure their political futures as to conspire in voter fraud,” Township Supervisor Mark Grabow said in the press release. “Oftentimes, elected officials need to be reminded that they are not entitled to hold office, but rather it is a privilege.” He called for an investigation into the matter.
Charles Pierce, the supervisor of township records, called Grabow’s press release defamatory of not just Koehs — named as one of two defendants in the lawsuit — but also to all employees in the clerk’s office.
“The only way to begin to remedy this situation is to provide a public and written apology to the entire clerk’s office,” Pierce said, standing before the board in a packed town hall meeting room. “And in failing to do so, I’d hope the board would look at the censure of those comments.”
The board meeting was the final one before the Aug. 7 primary and the first since the lawsuit was filed that alleges there were forged signatures on Dunn’s nominating petition.
Koehs and Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh are named as the defendants in the lawsuit.
There were accusations, revelations, gavel banging, booing and ovations in a meeting that solidified battle lines between the board incumbents and the candidates, including Supervisor Mark Grabow, looking to oust them in the all-Republican primary.
Because there are no Democrats running for office in the township, all seven positions will be decided by the primary.
Mariuri and supervisor candidate Charles Missig used the public comment section to call for the county to oversee the election.
“We don’t want to lose the trust of our citizens here,” Missig said. “And it might be a good idea to have someone come in on Aug. 7 and perhaps oversee the election.”
Tempers flared at some portions of the meeting, particularly when Deputy Clerk Jim Gelios spoke over the three minutes allotted for comments and discussed Grabow’s lawsuit against the township.
In 2010, the township forced Grabow and his family to close their business, Brentwood Limousine, because it violated township zoning policy.
Then the township had to garnish Grabow’s wages as supervisor after he refused to pay court-order fees. Records show Macomb pulled $2,555 from Grabow’s paycheck in 2009.
Grabow banged the gavel after Gelios began to discuss the garnishing of wages.
“Well, I’ll come back for part two,” he said while walking away from the pedestal. “You don’t like the truth.”
Some residents in the crowd yelled at Gelios to sit down.
Ed Carey, supervisor of township elections, took to the pedestal to defend Koehs.
“He has never personally checked a single petition signature on Mrs. Dunn’s petitions or any of the other candidates that have filed for office,” Carey said. “That is a function I, myself as supervisor of elections, and the other members of our staff perform.”
Carey did not deny that there were multiple signatures on Dunn’s petitions. He said every candidate had duplicates, but none of the duplicates were counted.
One of the presumed duplicates was Salvatore DiCaro, the head of the Parks and Recreation Department.
On Dunn’s petition, there are two “Salvatore A. DiCaro” signatures that do not match. John Johnson, the campaign manager for clerk candidate Cathy Imbronone and Missig, has said that it was the two DiCaro signatures that tipped him off that something was wrong.
DiCaro provided a simple explanation for the two names at the trustee meeting. He said his son is named after him and is right-handed, unlike DiCaro, who is left-handed. He said they both signed Dunn’s petition.
After the meeting, John Michael Johnson, son of John Johnson, stood by the election fraud claims.
“There are some duplicates on there that are crossed off, no big deal.” Johnson said. “But there are some on there that are not crossed off — more than just (Salvatore) DiCaro was speaking to.”
He said the number of duplicate signatures not crossed off would bring Dunn’s petition drive close to the 200 signatures required to be on the ballot.
Koehs and Dunn used their comments to officially respond to the lawsuits allegations.
“I believe it necessary to advise each and every resident that neither I nor any member of my dedicated staff has engaged in any type of election fraud, and we are deeply upset and offended at this baseless political stunt,” Koehs said.
“I do not appreciate the false accusations that are being made about me in regard to the petitions that I filed for supervisor,” Dunn said
She called the claim that she collected all 200-plus signatures in one day an “outright lie.”
The dates on her petitions reflect that she had been collecting them since April.
Koehs also directly criticized Grabow’s press release.
“Mr. Grabow issued a press release calling for a criminal investigation without ever asking any questions of my staff or myself,” he said. “He could have discovered that this entire suit was baseless, but instead, chose to be the judge and jury and presume guilt.”
Koehs said Grabow’s actions show his contempt for his town hall peers.
Koehs also used the time to play, in dramatic fashion, a DVD of the May 25, 2011, meeting where Grabow reiterates that the Board of Trustees did not approve the expenditure of funds to build a SMART pole barn in which to house the township’s Dial-A-Ride buses.
For the last month, the debate over whether the board approved the pole barn’s construction has been a point of contention between Grabow and Koehs.
Grabow, during his comments, backpedaled from the accusations in his press release.
Grabow said he called for an investigation only to provide clarification to voters that the township can be trusted.
“Let’s verify it and make sure that it’s clear that no wrongdoing is brought to light, so that it’s very clear that our staff did or did not — I believe they did not — but I’m appalled that the accusations are there,” Grabow said.
“There’s way too much rhetoric that’s going on, and we need to clear the air,” he concl
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