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Barbs fly at Troy City Council meeting

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 26, 2019


TROY — Independence Day fireworks started early at the Troy City Council table June 17.

While former City Manager Brian Kischnick is behind bars — serving a sentence in federal prison for bribery — questions about Mayor Dane Slater’s driveway sparked heated discourse at the council table.

Kischnick was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and two years probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery in August.

A Jan. 18 sentencing memorandum by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison states that Kischnick used his city office to solicit bribes and other things of value. This included demanding bribes from DiLisio Contracting. Kischnick was ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution.

After Kischnick directed city staff to contact DiLisio in September 2015 and coordinate construction of a new driveway at Kischnick’s home,  DiLisio sent Kischnick a $3,500 invoice for costs and labor only for a driveway, including tree removal by the city arborist, which he never paid, according to the sentencing memorandum.

According to the memorandum, DiLisio, acting under the direction of the FBI, arranged a Christmas lunch at a Troy restaurant in December 2017 with city employees invited by Kischnick. DiLisio paid the $1,287 tab and gave Kischnick $1,000 in exchange for his support of the renewal of the city’s contract for concrete slab replacement services. On Jan. 22, 2018, based on Kischnick’s recommendation, the Troy City Council awarded DiLisio a one-year contract to provide concrete slab replacement services, with an option to renew for one additional year.

On March 6, 2018, under the direction of the FBI, DiLisio offered and Kischnick accepted a $2,000 bribe, according to the sentencing memorandum.

The Troy City Council terminated Kischnick’s employment March 11, 2018, following a March 9 domestic assault charge in Clawson, to which he pleaded no contest.

Councilman David Hamilton voiced concern over unanswered questions on Slater’s driveway at the June 3 meeting after resident John Kulesz said he had concerns about Slater allegedly having his driveway replaced at the same time that DiLisio was performing work nearby. Kulesz noted that he was unable to find a permit issued by the city for the reported driveway work.

“We need to know who replaced his driveway and how much he paid for it,” Kulesz said.

At the same meeting, the council voted 6-0 to approve the one-year, $2.4 million contract for concrete slab replacement with DiLisio Contracting.

Councilman Ed Pennington read into the public record a press release listing the City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm and City Manager Mark Miller just before 7 p.m. June 17: “The Contractor performed work by private agreement with property owners adjacent to the project, including Mayor Dane Slater. The contractor, not the mayor, should have applied for and received a permit before performing the work. The mayor brought this matter to the city’s attention more than one year ago.

“However, city staff subsequently inspected the driveway and found it complies with city codes.  Mayor Dane Slater showed the city manager and city attorney a copy of the invoice and proof of payment so the city considers the matter closed.”


DiLisio’s responds
John Freeman, an attorney for DiLisio, gave this response via email.

“During the normal course of the city local road concrete slab replacement program in Troy, DiLisio contracting performed regularly scheduled work in the mayor’s neighborhood. Due to drainage and grade issues, the mayor’s approach needed to be replaced.

“The city was responsible for payment to replace the approach. When such work on an approach is being done, homeowners often ask for a quote to replace the entire driveway at the homeowner’s expense. This is what happened in the mayor’s case.  He received a quote and paid for the driveway. As DiLisio Contracting does work pursuant to the concrete slab replacement program, a city inspector is routinely present alongside DiLisio Contracting employees to ensure the work is done properly.  Therefore, as is the case in many municipalities in the area, DiLisio Contracting believed that a permit was unnecessary,” it read.

Pennington called Hamilton’s actions “dirty politics,” and said, “Congratulations for driving a wedge between City Council.”

However, Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek said people are still concerned.

“These are not difficult questions. When questions on oversight come up, we need to take a deep breath and answer them.”

“If the driveway was paid for, why wasn’t it revealed?” Hamilton asked.

Henderson addressed heated words that he said were exchanged between himself and Hamilton after the June 3 meeting.

“I was visibly aggravated and not real happy,” he said, noting that while he was disappointed in himself for the language he used with Hamilton, he did not threaten Hamilton and he didn’t have a gun in his possession, although he has a concealed weapons permit.

“I apologize for frightening him,” he said.

Henderson said that Hamilton gave him the finger and called him a name.

Hamilton said that at the June 3 meeting, Henderson told him to “go f--- yourself” and shoved him on the shoulder. He said the mayor called him “chickens--t.”

“I want to clear the air,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t think my questions were all that out of the ordinary. I don’t understand why it wasn’t just revealed.”

“All you had to do was ask me,” Slater said, from the council table. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve followed procedures. I will do nothing to discredit my family.”

Slater told C & G Newspapers June 18 that he hoped everyone “got the chance to vent and move forward. It went over the top.”

“I followed procedure,” he said. “Everyone was aware of the driveway. It was not a secret. It wasn’t my obligation to get a permit.”

He added that the initial estimate for the work was higher than he thought it would be, but he went ahead with it, as his neighbor also did.

“I hate to see this continue to be in the paper. This is a political year. This is classic dirty politics,” he said.