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June 28, 2012 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-06-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

metro >> on the cover

Heated Race

Despite past chaos, West Bloomfield board cites
progress, gets ready for August primary vote.

Bill Carroll I Contributing Writer

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

The different factions have been running
"attack" ads against each other in a local
newspaper.
The divisiveness and lack of harmony has
fragmented the board and led to Economou
Ureste and Kaplan forming their own slate of
candidates to run against fellow Democrats
in the Aug. 7 primary. Also on their slate are
clerk candidate Neha Patel, and trustee can-
didates Hartley Harris, Al Zara and Jeremy
Kaplan (unrelated to Steve Kaplan).
Economou Ureste sums up the "change":
"There's chaos on the board; it's worse than
the previous board. As a result, township
employee morale is down the drain."
"It's been very disappointing,"
Shaughnessy admitted. Amazingly, she and
Economou Ureste, who are current foes, were
on the same slate in the 2008 election.
Weingarden looks dismayed when she's
reminded of the board situation. "Well,
despite all this, we really have accomplished
a lot in the past four years," she said.
Astonishingly, that's true. Orchard Lake
Road got repaved through West Bloomfield,
improvements were made to buildings and
grounds, union contracts got settled, a new
police chief was hired (although not without
a dispute), and a new waste-hauling corn-
pany was brought in, also in a dispute.
Now, all of the incumbents are running
for re-election to four-year terms. Ten of the
total 16 candidates are Jewish. Shaughnessy,
who handles all elections, expects about a
25-30 percent turnout of the 50,000 regis-
tered voters out of 65,000 in the township.
The nominees will vie in the Nov. 6 elec-
tion, which may be superfluous because only
one Republican, Tom Pustelak, is running to
be nominated for trustee. Thus, a primary
victory is tantamount to election.

Supervisor ($109,347 per year salary)
Michele Economou
Ureste, incumbent
Democrat
Economou Ureste, 43,
said her "authority was
eroded in the past four
years by 4-3 majority vote
blocs against me, but I
managed to persevere and
Michele
get
a lot accomplished
Economou
for
our
residents." She
Ureste
cites the streamlining
of the building permit process, adding five
building inspectors, maintaining a fund
equity surplus, new automation to create a
new software system and database sharing

N

8

June 28 . 2012

among all township departments, a AA-plus
rating for any necessary bond issues, and
$571,000 in township buildings and grounds
improvements.
The former business consultant, journalist
and 11-year West Bloomfield resident added:
"The supervisor role is very gratifying, and
I love helping residents. I always respond
promptly to residents' phone calls, emails
and letters, and my door is always open to
them. My background in quality manage-
ment has helped me in problem-solving and
creating more efficiency in the township."

Jonathan Warshay,
Democrat

After attending many
board meetings, Warshay,
51, an attorney and con-
sultant, claims the super-
visor "is not responsive to
the needs of the people."
Jonathan
"The board actions
Warshay
affect the lives of most of
the residents; they're very close to the people,
and this board is just not getting the job
done he said. "And the supervisor shouldn't
be involved in suing other board members."
Economou Ureste responds the suit was
necessary because four board members were
"misusing public taxpayer funds."
Warshay served one four-year term as
a Ferndale city councilman and has been
a West Bloomfield resident for two years.
He wants to improve the "downtown" area
and fill vacant parcels of land. "We have to
approach the Road Commission of Oakland
County diplomatically to get some of our
roads improved and widened."

Robert Egren, Democrat

Egren declined to be interviewed.

Clerk ($106,224)

Catherine
Shaughnessy,
Democrat incumbent

Shaughnessy, 55, says
she was a "reluctant
participant" in any
lawsuits, and decries
the "negativity" and
Catherine
"lack of professional-
Shaughnessy
ism and maturity" by
some board members,
who "refuse to accept majority rule." She
calls herself a "hard-working clerk and
independent voter. I love my job, especially
handling elections."
She says she took the lead on a commit-

tee with Brown and three residents to
get Orchard Lake Road repaved from 14
Mile Road to Walnut Lake Road; spurred
the refinancing of library bonds to save
$54,000 in interest; reorganized the clerk's
office and saved $450,000, and pushed to
revamp the car wash contract on township
vehicles to save $10,000.
She points to West Bloomfield being
among the first in Michigan to use electronic
poll books in elections. `Also, we'll place
two computers at the clerk office counter to
facilitate absentee ballots."

Neha Patel, Democrat
Patel, 46, a township
Woodland Review Board
member, says she wants
to "restore transpar-
ency" to the clerk's office,
although she has no
criticism of township
Neha Patel
election procedures.
"I decided to run for the board because of
Brown's lawsuits and the poor way the new
waste-hauling contract was handled, not giv-
ing the contract to the lowest bidder."
She's proud of the diversity on the six-
person slate of candidates formed by some of
the incumbents. "We share similar views on
issues, and we've combined our resources for
advertising expenditures," she said.
With 25 years of corporate and entrepre-
neurial experience, she has lived in West
Bloomfield for 17 years.
Shaughnessy, a 24-year resident, says she
has improved transparency, including add-
ing information to the township website.

Treasurer ($106,224)
Teri Adelberg
Weingarden, incum-
bent Democrat
Weingarden, 42, who
grew up in West
Bloomfield, marvels at
the "positive action" by
the board "despite the
Teri Adelberg
many inflated egos and
Weingarden
personality disputes
among members; the
accomplishments overshadowed the arguing
and bickering" She says she spearheaded the
settling of five union contracts "left hang-
ing by the previous board." She also says
she admires how employees "pitched in and
took voluntary concessions:' To help, she,
Economou Ureste and Shaughnessy no lon-
ger take car allowances.
Weingarden says inspectors have been

added for
house rentals
by absentee landlords
to alleviate the foreclosure
problem, and she points to the success of a
"foreclosure extravaganza" held by the town-
ship to sell these properties."I'm an inde-
pendent voter on board issues, and I try to
represent the best interests of the public."

Gene Farber, Democrat
Farber, 65, a West
Bloomfield attorney, is
giving up his trustee
position to oppose
Weingarden. He says he's
running as an indepen-
dent again and, alluding
Gene Farber
to recent board lawsuits,
he points out, "You can't stop people from
suing whomever they want to:'
"I would change a few things, such as
investing the maximum amount of town-
ship funds, thus leaving less in the checking
account, and preparing better rate of return
information on investments;' he said.
Weingarden responds that her main
concern is to "invest our money safely" and
to get earnings credits, which affect bank
fees. She says she follows provisions of the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which
stresses "safety and stability" of investments
and "daily liquidity to keep things running
smoothly."

Board of Trustees ($125 per
meeting; four to be nominated)
Larry Brown, Democrat
incumbent
Despite the rifts, Brown,
67, says, "We all came
together to take care of
the necessary township
business; there's no doubt
we had a lot of discord,
Larry Brown
mainly because of a few
instigators, but we still
managed to talk things out for the good of
the residents. It's too bad the waste-hauling
contract with Richfield Equities of Flint
caused a problem right out of the chute, but
we saved money on that."
Brown had admitted to having a busi-
ness relationship with Richfield. He says
he, Farber and Rosenberg spent many
hours negotiating with the unions to settle
labor issues amicably. He cites Orchard
Lake Road repaving as a major accom-

Heated Race on page 10

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