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March 27, 2014 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-03-27

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

metro

Job Altered

West Bloomfield board reduces
treasurer's salary, duties.

Ronelle Grier
Contributing Writer

A

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20 March 27 • 2014

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fter months of controversy
surrounding the performance
of West Bloomfield Township
Treasurer Teri Weingarden, the board
of trustees voted to redistribute some
of the treasurer's duties and reduce the
salary of the position to $22,000, start-
ing with the term immediately after the
next election on Nov. 20, 2016.
The changes were
authorized during an
emotionally charged
board meeting on
March 10. The vote
was unanimous,
with the exception
of Weingarden, who
voted against the
Teri
resolutions.
Weingarden
"This is punitive
and retaliatory:' she said, adding there
has been no evidence of wrongdo-
ing, and that accusations regarding
fees, penalties and lost interest were
unfounded.
The resolutions were based mainly
on the findings of a 79-page report by
Christopher Johnson of Johnson, Rosati,
Schultz and Joppich P.C., a law firm
hired by the township board to look
into concerns about purported irregu-
larities in the treasurer's office. The
report referred to a number of "serious
irregularities and deficiencies" that
included inappropriate investments of
township funds, failure to keep accu-
rate and timely records, incorrect fund
transfers and ledger entries, improper
documentation and other occurrences.
Weingarden described Johnson's
report as a "political witch hunt:' stat-
ing it contained several errors and that
she was never questioned by Johnson
regarding any of the issues in his report.
The meeting was peppered with
confrontational exchanges, especially
between Weingarden and township
Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste,
who accused each other of making false
statements and misrepresenting the
truth. At one point, Ureste called a five-
minute recess to allow tempers to cool
down.
When the meeting resumed, Ureste
apologized for the lack of decorum, and
the board voted to reduce the treasurer's
salary to $22,000, following a motion
by Trustee Steven Kaplan to raise the
amount from $15,000 originally pro-
posed. The rationale for the salary

reduction was that the treasurer will
become a part-time position and paid
staff members would perform many of
the duties required of the office.
"Our janitors make more than
$15,000 a year ... this is 100 percent a
political attack:' Weingarden said. "This
is just a ruse to have me not run for
public office again:'
The current annual salaries for the
three elected officials are approximately
$106,224 for the treasurer and the clerk,
and $109,347 for the supervisor.
During public comment, former West
Bloomfield supervisor David Flaisher
criticized the decisions.
"Nothing like this ever happened
on any board I was on ... as far back
as I can remember; said Flaisher, who
served as supervisor from 2000-2008.
"If you're going to do this, do it for all
three officers. Don't just pick one out,
and don't just make it a political ven-
detta:'

Duties Changed

The modifications of the treasurer's
duties, which will take effect imme-
diately, include contracting with an
outside firm to manage the township's
investments, and required signatures by
the clerk and the supervisor for certain
expenditures and fund transfers previ-
ously handled by the treasurer.
After the meeting, Clerk Cathy
Shaughnessy denied the treasurer's
claims that the responsibilities she was
accused of shirking belonged to the
Finance Department, which is under
the jurisdiction of the clerk.
"That is absolutely, totally,
unequivocally, 100 percent incorrect:'
Shaughnessy said. "The law is pretty
clear:'
Shaughnessy also said the township
board decided not to petition Gov.
Snyder to remove Weingarden from
office, an action that had been approved
at a meeting on Dec. 9, 2013.
Weingarden said she and members of
her staff have been bullied and harassed
in what she considers a campaign to get
her to resign. She said complaints have
been filed by some staff members with
their union representatives.
"This is part of a pattern and prac-
tice of harassment:' Weingarden said
a week after the March 10 meeting.
"They [the board members] are using
a political agenda to affect me and my
office. Instead of letting the electorate
decide, they're trying to circumvent the
process:'



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