First the mandatory disclaimer. I do not work for Patch. I am paid by nobody. My opinions are my own, and do not reflect Patch in any way. This is an opinion piece. My opinion.
Well you have probably all now heard about the inexcusable actions of Plymouth Township Supervisor, Richard Reaume.
You have heard it from Patch, you have heard about it from me, and if you were watching TV Friday night, you could have heard about it on Channel 7 Action News.
Plymouth Township Supervisor, Richard Reaume, in an act of lunacy, was caught in the act of stealing campaign signs from a candidate running for Plymouth Township Treasurer.
I'm just going to say it right now. Plymouth Township Supervisor, Richard Reaume needs to do the right thing for Plymouth Township and resign his position.
If you think that this is too drastic a punishment for stealing campaign signs on taxpayer time and throwing them in a dumpster, you may or may not be right.
Personally, I think that the Supervisor of the Township has to set the example. He is the top elected official of Plymouth Township. He is the leader of the Board of Trustees. He is the very face of Plymouth Township, and he has sullied her reputation.
So personally, I think this is enough to warrant his resignation. But there is more. There is a lot more, and it has all been happening fairly recently. I am gravely concerned about Mr. Reaume. I am concerned that he is no longer fit for public office. I base this opinion on a series of events that he has been involved with over the course of the last five months specifically.
My concerns about Mr. Reaume began on June 14th 2012. He sent a letter to Plymouth Township residents supporting Nancy Conzelman for Township Clerk. That alone is not reason for concern.
The disturbing part is that it wasn't really an endorsement letter, but rather an attack ad against the sitting Plymouth Township Clerk, Joe Bridgeman. This concerned me because they are both Republicans. Or so we thought back then.
This concerned me because how were they supposed to get along for the next four years if they both got reelected? It was an attack ad against a fellow Republican, and colleague, and it didn't pass the smell test with me.
I did some research, and found a whopper of a lie in the letter. Reaume accused Bridgeman of missing more meetings than anyone else on the board. This was unbelievably easy to check, and there were other untruths in the letter as well, that came out later.
So after a bullet pointed attack on Mr. Bridgeman that had lies and distortions he finished with this, and I quote: "This behavior by an elected official can not be tolerated."
Remember that quote Mr. Reaume? "This behavior by an elected official can not be tolerated?"
It was a lie. The behavior Mr. Reaume talked about was a lie, and he went so far as to admit it to the Observer. I called him on this lie, and a few days later the Observer called him on this lie.
Mr. Reaume: The man lost by 14 lousy votes! You mailed lies out to all of Plymouth Township about a good family man, and he lost his job by 14 votes!
His life is forever changed because Mr. Reaume told Plymouth Township residents that "his behavior can not be tolerated" and that statement was based on a lie.
People trusted Mr. Reaume to be above reproach. They put a lot of stock in his words. A lot of folks voted against Mr. Bridgeman because Mr. Reaume told them that "this behavior can not be tolerated by an elected official" and it was a lie. Mr. Reaume admitted this lie, but did nothing to make it right. He didn't lift a finger to right his wrong, and that utterly disgusts me.
This was when Mr. Reaume lost my respect. This was also when I became concerned about Mr. Reaume in general, and his relationship with Mr. Ron Edwards, in particular. You see, Mr. Edwards allegedly tried to beat the hell out of Mr. Bridgeman right in the Township Hall one night, and now suddenly, Mr. Reaume is strangely writing attack ads about Mr. Bridgeman.
I was also very concerned about the relationship between Mr. Reaume and Ms. Conzelman. I found out that Ms. Conzelman's husband, Mr. Steve O'Conner serves on the Plymouth Township Compensation Board.
The Plymouth Township Compensation Board sets the salary for Mr. Reaume, and now we know that Mr. Reaume wrote an attack ad for Steve O'Conner's wife's opponent. We now know that Mr. Reaume made a $500 campaign contribution to Ms. Conzelman's campaign.
This reeks of nepotism. This reeks of cronyism. This was the beginning of very disturbing series of events that have me questioning Mr. Reaume's administration.
I have been around the block once or twice, and I know a bad situation when I see one. I know abuse of power when I see it, and this was the first example of Mr. Reaume abusing his power, and betraying the public's trust, for political and quite possibly, monetary gain.
The next cause for concern about Mr. Reaume came when the League of Women Voters scheduled their candidate forum. There was a lot of fear amongst some of our elected officials at the time. They were worried about having to answer tough questions.
Out of the blue, Mr. Reaume scheduled a special meeting of the Board of Trustees in order to pass a policy denying the LWV permission to have their candidate forum in our Township Hall. Turns out that Mr. Reaume tried unsuccessfully to strong arm the LWV into canceling their forum.
Well the LWV didn't fall for the bluff, and as quick as the special meeting was scheduled, it was canceled.
Mr. Reaume still had a trick up his sleeve though. He had Nancy Conzelman skip the candidate forum, thereby denying Mr. Bridgeman a forum to defend himself against the lies that Mr. Reaume had written about him.
To me, this was a low class, dirty rotten move by both Mr. Reaume, and Ms. Conzelman. This whole thing just gave me more and more concern about whether or not Mr. Reaume was fit for public office. His lies and power grabs seemed to be starting to spin out of control.
Things quieted a bit after the primary, when the pressure on him began to wane. Recently though there have been some things that have come to light about him, and when I called Mr. Reaume for comment, he did not return my calls.
I approached the man after a Board of Trustees meeting to ask about this, and he literally threw a temper tantrum right there at the Township Hall in front of many people. I had never seen him lose his composure like this.
I walked away, and wrote my blog without his comment.
I waited a few days, hopefully giving him time to cool off, and finally gave him a call to seek answers to my questions. He threw another fit, lectured/yelled at me some more, and hung up on me. I could see the pressure or something was getting to this man. More concern.
Suddenly this week, right before the last public meeting the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees would host before the election, Mr. Reaume canceled the meeting. He just flat out canceled it. No warning. A note posted on the building: Meeting Canceled. No explanation. Meeting canceled.
Again I was seriously concerned about his bizarre behavior. These meeting are scheduled a year in advance, and you don't just up and cancel them out of the blue. This was the last chance voters had to question this board before the election.
This was maybe the biggest meeting in four years. There is a huge issue concerning public safety out there, and residents were expected to show up seeking answers from our elected officials.
The biggest meeting in four years, and Mr. Reaume unilaterally canceled it. He canceled the October 23rd regular meeting of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees, exactly two weeks before what is probably going to be the most hotly contested local election in Plymouth Township history.
Here's the problem. He can't do that. Mr. Reaume is not supposed to do that, and he knows it. There is no mechanism in place to cancel a regularly scheduled meeting of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees, and Richard Reaume knows it, and he admitted as much to me when I talked to him on Friday the 26th of October.
He admitted to me that he did not have the power to cancel the meeting.
I asked him what he was going to do about it. No answer. I asked him if he would reschedule a meeting before the election, as he has the power to do that. He said no, he would not be doing that either.
I informed him that it looks terrible to be denying folks their last chance to ask questions of their elected officials before a big election. I reminded him that people had a bunch of questions about the Public Safety Officer issue. He said "there had only been a few at the last meeting."
I reminded him that none of the questions people had asked, were answered by him. He had no response. Bizarre!
So I moved on to the day's events.
Three days after the canceled meeting, Mr. Reaume was observed by an off duty police officer stealing campaign signs and throwing them in a dumpster.
Once he was informed that he had been caught in an illegal act, he went back and crawled through a dumpster filled with restaurant garbage, to retrieve the signs, and put them back.
When confronted by Rita White at the dumpster. Mr. Reaume responded by saying "I don't know what I was thinking."
He went on to say that "I've never done anything like this before."
These two statements are very revealing, and combined with everything else, lead me to believe that he is losing touch with reality. That he may not be fit for public office.
Mr. Reaume makes decisions that affect all of us. He makes decisions that affect our Firefighters, and our Police Officers.
I want to know that the man making these decisions that can affect the safety and well being of our first responders, and by extension our residents, are being made by a person who is thinking clearly and reasonably.
The events reflected here, make me question Mr. Reaume's judgement.
Look, it is no secret that I do not like the guy's politics, but that point is irrelevant. The facts are the facts, and the events reflected here can not be disputed, and have not been disputed by Mr. Reaume, and he has had ample time to do just that.
For those who have missed some of these events, here is the timeline:
June 14th Reaume sends attack ad with lies about Township Clerk Joe Bridgeman. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/local-elections-heat-up-with-supervisors-letter
June 22nd: I expose Mr. Reaume's whopper of a lie. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/township-supevisor-richard-reaume-has-some-splainin-to-do
July 6th: Mr. Reaume calls the League of women Voters and asks them to cancel their already scheduled candidate forum. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/plymouth-township-supervisor-leaves-the-league-of-women-voters-candidate-forum-in-limbo
July 12th: At the end of the day, Mr Reaume schedules a special meeting to deny permission to the League of Women Voters for their candidate forum. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/league-of-women-voters-candidate-forum-could-be-banned-from-plymouth-township-hall
July 13th: Everybody shows up for Mr. Reaume's special meeting, only to find out that he canceled it at the last minute. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/king-richard-has-spoken
August 10th: Mr. Reaume claims absolute power of the Board of Trustees, and I make my dire and apparently correct prediction. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/absolute-power-4da6a2e7
October 17th: Mr. Reaume loses his composure and yells at me after a meeting. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/is-plymouth-township-supervisor-distorting-his-military-service
October 23rd: The October 23rd Plymouth Township Board of Trustees meeting is canceled. http://plymouth-mi.patch.com/blog_posts/plymouth-township-board-of-trustees-abruptly-cancels-meeting-right-before-general-election
October 26th : Richard Reaume is caught illegally stealing Rita White's campaign signs. http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/wayne_county/a-township-official-gets-caught-removing-someone-elses-campaign-signs-when-he-was-not-supposed-to
Any single one of these events are probably not big enough to call for a resignation, but when added up, over such a short period of time, I think there is clearly reason to be concerned about whether the top elected official in Plymouth Township is fit for office.
I don't think he is. I do not think Mr. Richard Reaume is, at this time, capable of fulfilling the duties of Supervisor of Plymouth Township. I think for the good of Plymouth Township, he should resign his seat effective immediately.
THE WAY FORWARD:
I would hope that Mr. Reaume resign effective immediately because then voters would be allowed to vote for Mr. Reaume's opponent in the election.
Mr. Reaume's voters would almost certainly switch to Mr. Richard Sharland. This would mean that we would not have to pay for a special election should Mr. Reaume somehow win reelection.
I am not convinced that Mr. Reaume will win reelection. Mr. Reaume has enjoyed good support at the polls in the past, but people are starting to get worried about this current group of elected officials, and Mr. Sharland is an attractive candidate.
Mr. Sharland is running as an Independent, and he chose to do so for a very good reason. Mr. Sharland had enough political smarts to realize that with nobody running as a Democrat, Plymouth Township voters would have no choice in the general election if he ran against Mr. Reaume in the primary. So he chose to run as an Independent in order to give voters a choice in November. In my opinion, that was a brilliant move, and one that benefitted voters.
Mr. Sharland is a true Republican, and there can be no question about that. He also is appealing to many Democrats this election cycle, because he has shown that he understands that the issues facing Plymouth Township are not partisan issues. They are local issues, and he supports, and works with candidates that have the best visions and best answers for our community.
I met Mr. Sharland one time. We went out and had a cup of coffee at McDonalds. We sat down for a quick cup of coffee, and about two hours later, I went home very impressed with this guy, and very glad that I had the pleasure of meeting him.
I was impressed with the content of his character. He is proud of his country, and he loves his community. He wears his patriotic feelings on his sleeve shamelessly, and I like that in a man, because I am the same way.
Mr. Sharland is the type of guy who will get misty eyed while singing God Bless America at a baseball game or some such event, but you can also see him as a tough old bird too, who won't be pushed around. He is the kind of guy who won't compromise his principles just because it is politically expedient.
He is a United States Army Veteran, who told me that he cast his first vote for President for Barry Goldwater. He lives in the house he grew up in, and he is proud of that. He is a self made man, working as a licensed contractor, farmer, and also ran, and owns the Gottschalk Turkey Farm that his Grandfather started in 1936.
Nobody in this race knows more about Plymouth Township than Mr. Sharland, and he is politically astute as well. He was the only person around who was able to untangle the mess that is the DeHoCo property debacle.
It was his ability to identify the flaws, and notify the proper people that quite possibly saved Plymouth Township taxpayers millions of dollars had this transaction gone through, and the flaws been discovered after the fact. He was able to figure out what Mr. Reaume, Treasurer Ron Edwards, and the Wayne County Treasurer were not.
He spent countless hours doing this service for the Township, and asked for, and received nothing in return. It would have been a decent thing for the Township officials to thank him and acknowledge him for his service.
In the end, I have no doubt that Mr. Reaume will politely decline my suggestion to stand down, and resign his seat. There would be no dishonor in doing that, and I know better than most that stress and pressure can lead one to make poor decisions.
Mr. Reaume will not resign though, he will most likely do everything possible to cling to his office. I do not respect that decision, and I will not be voting for him.
I am going to vote for Richard Sharland, who is the one true Republican on the ballot. He is running as an Independent, but make no mistake, he is a Republican. He is a Republican who is willing to work with those who want to see a better future for Plymouth Township.
Mr. Sharland is a smart guy. He is a straight shooter. He won't lie to you. He won't compromise his principles. He will always put Plymouth Township first. He has a clear vision for Plymouth Township.
Mr. Richard Sharland deserves your vote for Plymouth Township Supervisor...