Macomb TownshipAugust 1, 2012
Recording contradicts election-fraud lawsuit
By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Normally, the resignation of a teenager working a part-time job with a municipality’s parks and recreation department is not newsworthy.
But Jordan Gross has become an inseparable part of the Aug. 7 primary election after his name, albeit misspelled as Jordon Gross, appeared in a two-count lawsuit alleging election fraud and violation of the Freedom of Information Act on the part of the township clerk.
In addition to claiming that Township Clerk Michael Koehs certified fraudulent signatures on Trustee Janet Dunn’s nominating petitions for supervisor, the lawsuit claims the clerk’s office is withholding a letter Gross wrote to township officials after being forced to resign for “refusing to engage in certain conduct and observing township employees sign nominating petitions for certain candidates on township time for election to Macomb Township public office.”
The letter was written to several township officials in late May, including Koehs and Township Supervisor Mark Grabow, who subsequently invited Gross to his 25 Mile Road home for an interview.
The interview, recorded and uploaded to YouTube in June by Gross without Grabow’s knowledge, contrarily and quite blatantly reveals the then 19-year-old was not forced to resign and did not see nominating petitions being signed on township time.
You were “told to write that (resignation) letter or forced to write that (resignation) letter?” Grabow asks Gross.
“No, I wasn’t forced,” Gross replies. “She said, ‘Write a resignation letter. You can write whatever you want on there.’ I said I don’t know how. I’ve never been fired before.”
“But did the letter say ‘letter of resignation?’” Grabow asks.
“No, it was just a lined piece of paper,” Gross says.
Gross later tells Grabow he actually never witnessed township officials forcing or asking Parks and Recreation employees to sign nominating petitions on township time.
“I have not personally seen it,” Gross tells Grabow. “But I have heard of it.”
Gross later in the interview says he never signed a petition or even saw one being circulated, particularly one for Dunn’s nomination as the lawsuit alleges.
After the Chronicle briefed Grabow on the recording, Grabow said he stood by everything he said in the interview.
“I have nothing to hide,” he said in a phone interview. “I just want to be clear about getting to the truth.”
Gross hid a video-recording device in his pocket and captured the audio portions of the interviews in which Grabow frequently discusses his contempt for the others on the board and different township and county officials.
“I can’t keep my eyes on all of them,” Grabow says vaguely of the board. “That’s the hard part.”
He paints another board member to be “just as dirty” as everyone else in town hall and accuses township officials of “thiefdom.”
In another segment, he mocks the idea of running against Dunn for supervisor.
“Interesting enough, they can’t handle an outsider running the show,” Grabow said. “So that’s why they were out getting a 71-year-old woman to run against me. I’m like, really?”
Although the Chronicle has been unsuccessful in attempts interview Gross on the four-part recording, there are several points beyond just the context of the conversation that support the recording’s authenticity. Gross introduces himself to Grabow as “Jordan.” Additionally, the YouTube account responsible for uploading the four parts is named JordanGross4215, and one of the videos is captioned “Interview with mark Grabow about my paper on what is wrong with the rec center.”
In July, township’s legal counsel advised the clerk’s office to not release the letter because “the letter could be construed as accusing some people of illegal and/or unethical conduct with absolutely no factual support,” attorney Albert Addis wrote.
Grabow shares the same sentiment about the letter, calling it “hearsay” several times in his interview with Gross.
But in public, Grabow has worn a much different hat. He is one of three candidates calling for an investigation into the clerk’s office for not releasing the letter after Mark Maiuri, a Macomb resident, filed the lawsuit July 19.
In a July 28 press release, Grabow, along with his opponent for the supervisor position, Charles Missig, continued scrutinizing Koehs for not releasing the letter.
“Michael Koehs needs to come clean on why he is burying this letter,” Grabow was quoted in an unsigned press release that lists Maiuri’s contact information.
Grabow, in a later interview, denied having said the quote on the press release. But the press release came from the same email address his signed press releases have come from in the past, and it is not the first time he has criticized Koehs and Dunn.
In another statement he signed, Grabow called for an investigation by the Michigan State Police and Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith into the clerk’s office.
Gross’ personnel file also contradicts the forced resignation claims made in the lawsuit.
“I am resigning because I failed to show up for work,” Gross, now 20, wrote in his May 22 resignation letter. “I overslept, and I understand that it was my fault.”
Three incidents in which he was late — two of them in May — are on file and signed by Gross, including his resignation letter.
On May 18, “Jordan and I had discussed the importance of being on time,” wrote R. Scott Lee, Gross’ supervisor, in the final report. “Jordan was reminded of his previous write up, and that if he could not be on time (Saturday) May 19, he should plan on other employment.”
Lee wrote that two other employees were present for this conversation.
“Jordan was brought in for discipline,” Lee concludes in the report. “Jordan elected to resign.”
Grabow said he received the Gross’ complaint letter just before Memorial Day and met with Gross over the holiday weekend.
At the July 25 trustee meeting, the supervisor said the reason for the time and location of the interview was because the letter was brought in on Friday, and Gross wanted to see him as soon as possible.
“I said sure, I’ll do that for any resident of the township,” Grabow said. “I answered that … former employee. I allowed him to speak. He had concerns.”
But, once again, the candid interview contradicts Grabow’s public claim.
“That’s the reason I said stop by. That way you won’t have any words of intimidation,” Grabow says.
The supervisor warns the former township employee that if he hands over the letter to Michigan State Police, several people will be going after him, including township officials, the media and investigators.
“I’m set on what’s going to happen,” Gross says. “Turn it in, and let’s do this.”
“You realize eventually somebody’s going to filter this out to the news media,” Grabow says. “The freaking news crawls man. … Be prepared.”
Grabow never turned over the letter to Michigan State Police. On June 27, he deemed his portion of the investigation over and found the letter to have no merit.
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