Macomb Township board rejects request for outside legal counsel

Issue centers on alleged employee conduct

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 28, 2019

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP –—After a month of employee resignations and complaints, one board member deemed it necessary for an outside attorney to launch an investigation.

At the May 22 Board of Trustees meeting, Clerk Kristi Pozzi made a request for outside legal counsel to conduct an employee investigation regarding alleged conduct of Human Resources Director/General Counsel Tom Esordi.

The motion failed in a 4-3 vote. Supervisor Janet Dunn, Treasurer Karen Goodhue, and Trustees Nancy Nevers and Roger Krzeminski voted “no.” Pozzi, along with Trustees Tim Bussineau and Kathy Smith voted “yes.”

Pozzi proposed that the township hire Greg Meihn, of Foley & Mansfield Law, to conduct an employee investigation of Esordi in an effort to take precautionary measures necessary to providing legal defense on behalf of the township.

Prior to her vote, Goodhue said she believes it to be unethical.

Later, she added it’s very unprofessional to publicly attack employees.

Smith asked if an investigation would occur with any employee, to which Pozzi said it would.

Goodhue then asked why Pozzi selected Meihn.

“He was selected to do our purchasing audit a few years ago and is already familiar with some of the department heads,” Pozzi said. “I think everyone agrees he gave a fair and unbiased opinion of our purchasing audit.”

A cost estimate was not provided to the township as to what would be charged for an investigation.

Krzeminski questioned Pozzi as to why a bid was not placed, something she said doesn’t happen for legal counsel, and why a price wasn’t offered.

“I didn’t get a price, but I’m following the practice of this township,” she said. “Mr. Esordi can contract out to anybody he wants, at any price, without any board approval. I think it’s worth any dollar that we spend on it.”

Prior to the vote, Pozzi outlined scenarios regarding complaints of Esordi.

“On April 15, three full-time elected officials received a complaint from an HR employee regarding the behavior of employee 2205,” Pozzi said. “In my opinion, the complaint warranted an investigative meeting and I requested one to be conducted.”

Pozzi said the meeting was scheduled by Dunn, but without any communication to her, the meeting was canceled with no rescheduled date.

“The complaint has now escalated to a grievance requesting a safe work environment, free from hostility and verbal abuse,” she said.

On April 18, former Planning Director Pat Meagher submitted a resignation letter, which states there is a distinct disconnect between department heads, board members and the human resources/legal counsel department.

Pozzi said also on April 18, the board received a resignation letter from Cynthia Carnes, the former purchasing specialist.

“She expressed to me, as her department head, how this employee operates both the human resources department and legal counsel is just wrong and can’t continue to watch it happen,” Pozzi said.

On May 8, Pozzi sent an email to the board regarding an investigation regarding Elections Coordinator Meggan Young. The investigation centered around an allegation Young falsified information on her employment application.

Pozzi also described an incident regarding Esordi from a police report, when in August 2018, “Mr. Esordi stopped, turned toward the group while walking by and informed the three ‘the second amendment is the right to bear arms, just like the gun that I’m carrying now.’”

The exchange was witnessed by Bussineau.

Ersodi has stated that he doesn’t comment on township operations.

The board’s next meeting is June 12 at 7 p.m.

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