Macomb Township Attorney Thomas Esordi discussed a letter from Gov. Rick Snyder’s office during the July 11 meeting that the governor won’t take action yet on removing Dino Bucci from office.

Macomb Township Attorney Thomas Esordi discussed a letter from Gov. Rick Snyder’s office during the July 11 meeting that the governor won’t take action yet on removing Dino Bucci from office.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Gov. Snyder won’t make decision on Bucci removal yet

Recall petition may take precedence before any action by Snyder

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 25, 2018


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Gov. Rick Snyder is taking his time on proceeding with any kind of action on removing Macomb Township Trustee Dino Bucci from his elected position after Bucci was indicted on 18 charges last November.

Following the indictment, the Board of Trustees authorized Supervisor Janet Dunn to send a letter to Snyder asking him to remove Bucci from his position. According to Township Attorney Thomas Esordi, Michigan Election law dictates that only the governor can remove an elected township officer.

Snyder’s attorney, Travis Weber, finally sent a response to the board on July 2 in the form of a letter. According to the letter, the other six trustees had also sent affidavits to Snyder in May that discussed Bucci not having attended a meeting since he was indicted, a position that was backed by meeting minutes.

In the letter, Weber said Snyder would not move forward with any kind of removal proceedings until proof was submitted that Bucci, or his lawyer Fred Gibson, had been served notice of the claims the board is making and the affidavits by the trustees. Esordi said he has sent those documents to Gibson, which was confirmed with a signed acknowledgement letter from Gibson that is dated July 9.

That notice from Gibson has been sent to Snyder’s office, but it may still be a slow-moving process due to Bucci being an elected official and a recall petition that is currently being circulated.

“The governor doesn’t have a high interest in intervening in local matters, which I think is a fair summary of the issue,” Esordi said. “At this point, the governor’s position is they don’t like to get involved in local matters and they will wait to see what happens in the recall petition.”

The 18 criminal charges Bucci was indicted on involved kickbacks, embezzlement and bribery over a nine-year period in both his position as a trustee and with the Macomb County Department of Public Works.

In Macomb Township, Bucci is accused of embezzling and conspiring to embezzle nearly $100,000 from the township in connection with contracts that deal with parking lot work at the township hall and the fire station.

On the county level, Bucci is accused of using county-paid officials for personal tasks, such as plowing driveways for him and those close him, moving an associate’s girlfriend to Ohio and placing campaign signs for him.

In the letter, Weber states that Snyder recognizes that Bucci was elected by the residents to serve a four-year term, and he wants to make sure Bucci has proper due process before interfering.

“The people of Macomb Township have the right to elect the individual of their choosing, and to have those individuals serve the terms to which they were elected,” the letter says. “A governor removing from office a duly elected official is highly unusual, and the governor has ultimate respect for the will of the voters.”

The letter follows up that the recall effort may weigh against further proceedings, as that is the voters using their voice to signify what they want to happen.

Resident Tom Sokol started the recall proceedings with the language getting approved in May by Macomb County. Sokol must get just under 7,000 signatures before the Aug. 7 filing deadline, which would represent 25 percent of the total Macomb Township voter turnout for the last gubernatorial election in 2014. Sokol said he is aiming for 7,500 signatures to be safe during the verification process.

If Sokol gets enough signatures and they are verified, the recall vote would be on the November election ballot. Sokol has recruited other residents to help him and has attended public events and set up shop at local businesses.

Sokol said he thinks it makes sense for the recall campaign to take first priority before Snyder taking any action. If the governor removed Bucci, the spot would be filled by the board, while a successful recall vote would allow the voters to elect a new trustee.

There have been a few road bumps in acquiring signatures, Sokol said, as the indictment and Bucci’s recent resignation from the Zoning Board of Appeals has some residents thinking he is already off the board.

“A common theme we are hearing from residents is that they want to see change — that their trust in local government needs to be restored,” Sokol said. “The biggest hurdle we currently face with the recall is voter confusion. However, (Bucci) is still on the Board of Trustees, receiving salary and benefits even though he is not showing up for work.”

Sokol said he has recently confirmed that the other six Board of Trustees members have signed the recall petition. After Dunn signed, Sokol said he saw more employees signing as well.

Bucci is scheduled to have a final pretrial hearing on Sept. 5 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, with a jury trial currently scheduled for Oct. 2.