During the Nov. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, there appeared to be some confusion among board members as to what can be asked of candidates seeking the open trustee seat at a special public meeting scheduled for Dec. 12.

During the Nov. 28 Board of Trustees meeting, there appeared to be some confusion among board members as to what can be asked of candidates seeking the open trustee seat at a special public meeting scheduled for Dec. 12.

File photo by Alex Szwarc

Concerns arise regarding format of special December meeting in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published December 3, 2018


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — At 6 p.m. on Dec. 12, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to discuss the open trustee seat.

The seat opened up in November when the board unanimously approved a message from former Trustee Dino Bucci to be a resignation letter.

During its Nov. 28 meeting, there appeared to be some confusion among board members as to what can be asked of candidates at the special meeting.

Supervisor Janet Dunn asked members for approval of the agenda format for the meeting.

“The candidates will come to the board and have three minutes to speak to tell us why they should be the new township trustee,” she said. ”The candidates will be speaking in the order their applications were received. There will only be questions for clarification if needed of what the candidate speaks about.”

That last sentence didn’t sit well with Trustee Tim Bussineau and Clerk Kristi Pozzi. What followed was a 12-minute debate before the meeting ended with a motion to follow the original plan passing in a 4-2 vote. Bussineau and Pozzi opposed the motion.

Bussineau’s concern with the format had to do with only being able to ask questions about what candidates say in the three minutes.

“I think residents will want someone on the board to maybe ask some tough questions about some of these candidates,” he said.

Dunn told the board that members will be given the resumes and applications of the candidates before the meeting.

“So that night we can only ask questions based on what they say in those three minutes?” Bussineau asked, to which Dunn replied, “right.”

Bussineau also had a concern with candidates having ties to what he called “some of the old Macomb Township way.”

“I would like to ask some tougher questions of them when they come to the podium,” he said. “I do think we’ve made strides on this board to move this township forward. But if something doesn’t show up on their resume or we know something about this candidate, we’re only going to ask questions to what they speak to?”

Pozzi commented that if a question or concern does come up in regard to a candidate, “What limits us from not being able to ask any additional questions?”

Dunn answered saying there are no laws that limits what questions can be asked.

When Pozzi asked Township Attorney Tom Esordi if a member would be able to ask any questions that would be relative, he responded, “The board gets to decide and the law is pretty clear. It’s just the decision of the majority members of the board to receive the next person as long as it’s done within 45 days of the resignation. You can adopt whatever procedure you want to adopt as a board and the majority of that would rule.”

Pozzi said she would appreciate if others on the board would share questions, knowledge or information that would be helpful in her making a decision about a candidate.

“I think it would be more beneficial to myself if we could ask questions in case you may know something that I don’t or would like to offer information that may not be presented by the candidate,” she said. “It would be open and helpful if everybody could talk. What if they limit their presentation to information that doesn’t answer my questions?”

Treasurer Karen Goodhue brought up the possibility that the board could make phone calls to candidates outside of the setting of board meeting to get answers rather than putting them on the spot in a public format.

“Nothing prohibits any of you from contacting any of the individuals,” Esordi said. “Other then more than three of you deliberating at any given time.”

Bussineau inquired to see if board members could receive a list of questions that can’t be asked in the special meeting.

“We are at a crossroads here,” he said. “This is a very important appointment. I know we’ve appointed like this in the past. I think we have a lot of eyes on us now of who we’re appointing. What if a candidate comes forward and we want to ask about that candidate, we’re going to call that candidate direct and ask that question? What if the candidate doesn’t answer my question or says I don’t have to answer that?”

Esordi said members are free to vote however they choose.

“I also think residents need to hear these questions and answers,” Bussineau said. “This is a different position then if you were just an employee here. If they were running as a candidate, everything would be on the table.”

Goodhue then made a motion to follow the plan for the Dec. 12 meeting on how it will be run.

“What is that plan then if it’s not the agenda,” Bussineau asked. “I’m confused on what I’d be voting on right now. Here’s the agenda that doesn’t include a plan. I heard that we may be able to ask questions at first of anything they brought up. What is the plan that is being presented? Is it the agenda plus questions of what that candidate brings up?”

The agenda states there will be remarks from applicants to fill the vacancy followed by public comments.

Dunn referred back to her original comments for the approval of the agenda format.

“To add to what the candidate speaks about, I think we should be able to ask questions about anything they write on their application as well,” Pozzi said.

Dunn commented, “We could be here all night.”

“I’m willing to be here all night to get this right for the residents,” Bussineau said.

As of Nov. 28, there were 12 applications for the trustee position. The cutoff date for the applications was Nov. 30.

An online notice about the meeting states the purpose is to “review applications and hear remarks from residents seeking appointment to the vacant township trustee seat and any other business that may come before the board.”

The board has 45 days from the acceptance of Bucci’s resignation to appoint a replacement.