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Posted on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Judge throws out Augusta Township Open Meetings Act lawsuit

By Tom Perkins

A judge has thrown out an Open Meeting’s Act lawsuit brought by one half of the Augusta Township Board of Trustees against the other half.

Washtenaw County Court Judge Timothy Connors did not find that several members of the board violated the OMA by holding a short-notice special meeting to accept the resignation of the treasurer and appoint a new one in September.

The suit was brought by Supervisor Pete Hafler, Trustee Mike King, Trustee Dan Lula and former Supervisor and Trustee Kathy Jackson. They were asking that Connors invalidate Clerk Kathy Giszczak, Trustee Bill Tobler, Trustee Brian Shelby’s vote to accept the resignation of former treasurer. They were also asking a subsequent vote to appoint Susan Burek be invalidated.

Giszczak, Tobler, Sherbine and Shelby were present for a special meeting that was called on Thursday, Sept. 1 and scheduled for 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. None of the plaintiffs were present.

That was enough for the quorum necessary to hold the vote, and OMA laws require notice to be provided within 24 hours of the meeting.

The plaintiffs charged a number of wrongdoings in Sherbine’s resignation. Attorney Nik Lulgjuraj wrote in his compliant that Sherbine failed to tender her resignation to Hafler as she is required to do.

He said the defendants knew the plaintiffs would be unable to attend because of vacation plans and work schedules, and he alleged the stated purpose of the meeting on the notice, which said it was for a “Treasurer’s staffing report”, was intentionally misleading.

Lulgjuraj also wrote that there was no debate or discussion at the special meeting, which indicated the decision to accept Sherbine’s resignation and appoint Burek was predetermined.

Lulgjuraj alleged that the reason Sherbine was resigning was because of her role in firing former deputy treasurer Janice Blair. He said Giszczak admitted in a deposition for a wrongful termination lawsuit that she electronically eavesdropped on a conversation between Blair and Hafler, and that recording had been used against Blair in her firing.

Electronic eavesdropping is a felony punishable by five years in prison, though no charges were ever brought against Giszczak or Sherbine.

Sherbine previously told she was resigning because she is moving to Alabama to be with her family.

Connors disagreed that there was any violations of the OMA, though he admonished the board for their behavior.

“I’m gratified by the judge’s decision,” Tobler said. “We have maintained that we followed all the necessary rules and that we had notified (the plaintiffs) of the special meeting, and they chose not to come.”

Giszczak repeated her stance since the issue arose.

“They had a chance to participate at that special meeting and they didn’t show up,” she said.

The plaintiffs either declined to comment or were unable to be reached by



Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 7:21 a.m.

HURRAY on his Hon. Timothy Connors. I completely agree he has seen thru the smokescreen of pettiness foisted upon the citizens of Augusta Twsp. by the 4 defeated plaintiffs: Hafler/King/Lula and Jackson et al. With the most appropriate appointment of Ms Burek I look forward to many future years of calm sanity ruling the township hall. The days of childish outbursts and ridiculous lawsuits by the minority tyranny are now surely numbered. Us ordinary citizen/voters are not ignorant by any more so than Judge Connors would be. With the next election we will NOT forget who these plaintiffs are that filed this frivolous and hateful lawsuit against the wishes of and cost us a great deal of money... Ya us...the taxpayers who pay your salary. In the words of the "Don" Trump '' You're fired" Ah yes. the Agony of Defeat and the Thrill of Victory but I now ask....what will be in the next episode of this soap ' As the Township Turns"


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Thankfully, there remains some semblence of sanity. Sadly it resides outside of Augusta Township. These petty politics are the product of petty people, and the result is wasted tax dollars and as others have said a disservice to the citizens.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 8:48 a.m.

Judge Connors is a real good judge, just add a little salt and pepper... kidding. He is a very fare and honest guy. He has a problem with being nice and outgoing with lawbreakers. If he had saw fit to do this , then I believe it is the right thing to do. Besides this is a power driven suit, and should have never came to court. Shame on them, and the new treasurer has our blessings. Happy Holidays to all. Peace Out, everyone.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

@Joe Citizen - I take it you have not seen <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 5:26 a.m.

The State has statutes that define the rules for calling a meeting. The rules apparently were followed, and the meeting was called for the morning of a normal work day (a Friday, Sept 2). Three of the Board members (Hafler, King and Lula) chose not to attend the meeting. What excuse do they have? Only later do they object and file a frivolous lawsuit for their personal benefit. The plaintiffs desired to have no Treasurer for as many months as it would take to call a special election. How would a township conduct normal business without a Treasurer? Plaintiffs and their attorney Lulgjuraj used the media to shout out their frivolous case with distortions of the truth. Shame on them, and praise to Judge Connors.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

I agree with Mr. Ed.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Really.. Judge threw it out??? Wow.. As a resident of Augusta Township.. thank you very much for WASTING my tax dollars! Thank you so much for not getting the police protection.. and not getting some of the roads fixed.. Glad to see that the egos of the elected officials come way before the tax payers! Thank you to the judge who saw the through the smoke screen and put a end to the madness! and PS.. to al Augusta Township residents.. remember this come election time.. remember what out weighed the taxpayers!

Mr. Ed

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

Augusta Twp is the joke of Washtenaw County.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

I hope Plaintiffs appeal this asinine ruling. Judge Timothy Connors is up for re-election in 2012 and will face at least three opponents - Steve Postema, Carol Kuhnke, and Jim Fink for his seat plus a vacancy created by the retirement of Melinda Morris. Either of those three candidates would be an improvement over Connors. I salute Nik Lulgjuraj for filing this suit and forPlaintiffs efforts in attempting to enforce the Open Meetings Act.


Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

I am correct. Look at the results of the 2006 election. Harvard Law grad Patricia Gravel-Henkel was a write-in candidate for both seats - Connors and Morris - they were combined on the ballot in 2006 and that is how circuit judges in a county are statutorily voted in. The only exception of a separate circuit court seat ballot is where the incumbent-appointee is running in a special election after the governor has filled a seat for someone who has died or retired without completing their term. In such a case the special election is held in the next even-numbered year. If you believe I am incorrect, Tom, please show me.

Tom Wieder

Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Roaadman- I think you're confused. I'm fairly certain that the 3 candidates you mention will be running for the Morris seat, not against Connors. The two races are not combined, but voted on separately.

world view

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

Sad, sad, sad...the behavior of the entire Township Board is appalling.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

Gosh, this happened on a SUNDAY?