Courtesy photoDave Healy
TEXAS TOWNSHIP — A long-simmering conflict on the Texas Township Board of Trustees erupted into the public eye again Monday when the board addressed a perceived violation of the township’s code of conduct and concerns about the supervisor’s “kitchen cabinet.”
The board voted 6-1, with Supervisor Dave Healy dissenting, to approve a motion stating that the board does not condone Healy’s behavior toward the township’s deputy clerk at the Aug. 8 board meeting and that the township is not responsible for any costs if the deputy clerk takes legal action.
At the Aug. 8 meeting, the board considered a recommendation to hire Scott Paddock to serve as ordinance enforcement officer. his wife, Theresa Paddock, is the township’s deputy clerk.
Healy expressed concerns about nepotism, increased tension in the office and conflicts he already faced with the deputy clerk. Board members objected to what they felt was a personal attack.
Clerk Linda Kerr said that after the meeting she asked township Attorney Roxanne Seeber if the township was vulnerable to a lawsuit, and Seeber suggested the board make it clear it did not sanction Healy’s comments.
The board at its meeting Monday also discussed but took no action on Healy’s “kitchen cabinet” meetings. The board considered assigning a board member or employee to attend the meetings to ensure they follow the code of conduct and state law.
Healy holds the meetings at Asiago’s, where information about the meetings is posted. He also emails invitations to select people with agenda information.
The meetings have been a source of contention among board members. Seeber previously determined that they are not subject to the Open Meetings Act, but she encouraged board members to avoid attending them in order to prevent the appearance of a board-sanctioned meeting.
There have been concerns about private information being divulged at the meetings and whether the “kitchen cabinet” is a steering committee of the township.
Three audience members at Monday’s board meeting commented on the importance of getting informal feedback and said they saw no problem with Healy’s meetings.
In a memo to the board that he read aloud at the meeting, Healy said Seeber has “continually worked with certain members of the board to discourage (him) from meeting with the public to discuss the various issues of the day.” Healy objected to Seeber initiating Monday’s agenda item, recommending that a board member be monitored and implying that private information was divulged when he said he had no indication the information was confidential.
The information in question was the recommendation to hire Scott Paddock as the township’s ordinance enforcement officer, which went on the “kitchen cabinet” agenda before the board had considered the recommendation.
Healy requested the board consider making its arrangement for legal services nonexclusive.
Kerr, Treasurer Paul Cutting and trustees Joyce Neubauer, Erin Hoogendyk and Boven expressed strong support for Seeber, saying she has faced difficult situations in the township and done so gracefully.
The board also discussed the distinction between private and public information and the necessity of making it clear when information is confidential.
Trustee Steve Bosch made a motion that the board not take action to assign a board member or employee to monitor the kitchen cabinet meetings.
”we need to understand public things can be talked about in public and private things need to be kept private,” Bosch said.
“we need to move on …. if you’re in question, don’t talk about it.”
Bosch’s motion passed 6-1, with Cutting opposed.
Bill Saunders, a member of the township’s planning commission, spoke during public comments to offer his support for Seeber.
“we ought to be respectful among ourselves and with others,” Saunders said.