Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sumpter Township Trustee protests Sunday meeting

One Sumpter Township Trustee expressed her displeasure at being disturbed on “family days” to conduct her elected duties.

During a special meeting called on Sunday, Aug. 15, Trustee Peggy Morgan soundly criticized the scheduling of the meeting. The brief  Zoom meeting  had only one agenda action item, the hiring of a part-time clerk in the treasurer's office. 

Morgan insisted that the hiring vote could have waited until the regular meeting of the board scheduled for the next week. She claimed that this could be “the first time in the history that a meeting was called on Sunday to hire a part-time employee.”

Both Trustee Matt Oddy and Treasurer Vincent Warren attempted to explain that there was a serious staffing shortage in the treasurer's office and that with the return of the deputy treasurer from leave the next day, Monday, Aug. 16, it was imperative to have the new hire in place to begin training as soon as possible “to serve the needs of the community.”

Trustee Tim Rush explained that there was no board meeting for a week and “we have an absence in the treasurer's office. We need to serve our residents.”

Morgan insisted that the treasurer's office could run with two people and that “this could have waited.” She demanded that Supervisor Tim Bowman explain his logic in calling the meeting on a Sunday. As Oddy attempted to again explain the immediacy of the situation, Morgan retorted, “I have the floor. Why do you have to be his mouthpiece? He's got a mouth.” 

Oddy responded that since he was involved in the hiring, as was Warren, he thought he could better explain the process.

“Treasurer Warren contacted me in an effort to get the new hire in as early this week as possible. We have had a vacancy in the office. We have a new treasurer, and this is a new hire.”

Warren explained that the job had been posted both externally and internally and only three candidates applied. He said Ashina Hall was the best candidate for the job and had strong credentials. He wanted to have her start the job which will be at 21 to 29 hours a week at the rate of $20.74 per hour as soon as possible.

“I have a family and I work, too,” he responded to Morgan's criticism. “We need to fill this position for our residents. I'm a community-based person. My job is to make sure this community is served,” he told Morgan. “My parents are in their 80s and if they go to the treasurer's office, they need to have someone there to serve their needs and answer their questions. You don't put the residents off,” he said. 

After listening to Morgan's repeated and escalating criticism, Trustee Tim Rush requested the floor and responded to Morgan.

“I am outraged,” he said. “I am outraged with your statements. If Supervisor Tim Bowman calls a special meeting, it is our obligation to be there. This is just outrageous.”

Morgan insisted that “this has never happened in the history of the township” and “this could have waited” but voted yes on the unanimous motion to approve the hiring of the new clerk.

Trustee Don LaPorte was excused from the meeting.