Wheatland Township won't eliminate the job of deputy clerk, but the fate of the man who holds the post remains unsettled.
Residents and board members made it plain Thursday they did not like Supervisor Todd Morse's proposal to because Morse believes Bill Alstrom overstepped his authority by arranging for the at which residents killed plans to build, buy or lease a new town hall.
However, board members were amenable to a measure that would give them the authority to approve and remove the deputy clerk at their discretion. A resolution granting them that authority is to be presented at the December meeting.
Clerk Chuck Kern said he planned to talk to Alstrom, who was not at the meeting. Assuming the resolution is passed, Kern said he would put Alstrom's name forward as his choice for deputy clerk -- if Alstrom wants continue in the position.
Board member Joe Hudetz came to Alstrom's defense in reference to the Aug. 9 meeting, saying he gave the deputy clerk authorization to find a meeting location because it was expected an overflow crowd would attend. Alstrom arranged to use space at free of charge.
Hudetz was the chairman of the space committee charged with weighing the options for building, buying or leasing new town hall space. The committee was voted upon by residents, who started efforts in April to stop a Morse-backed plan to build a new $1.3 million town hall.
The bone of contention for Morse was Alstrom, per state statutes, did not have the authority to sign a contract to use that space or to arrange for insurance. Morse and Trustee Frank King said the state statute is specific in saying the deputy clerk's duties are limited to filling in for the clerk at board meetings, attending bid openings and executing township clerk documents required by law.
"The bottom line is he didn't have the authority (to arrange the meeting)," King said.
But critics say the real motivation is Morse's perception that Alstrom is aligned with the residents who stopped the new town hall from being built.
Three of four board members -- Hudetz, Karl Karantonis and Doug Haddad -- seemed to see the action in the same light.
"I will not vote for this," said Haddad, who is typically aligned with Morse on most issues. "I don't think anyone would. It's retaliation."
Nearly 20 crowded the board meeting in support of Alstrom, with more than a half dozen speaking on his behalf.
"I felt it was very important to come and communicate my concerns about this particular issue," Julie Berkowicz said. "You owe it to us to explain your reasons why and to tell (Alstrom) what is leading to your vote tonight."
Deb Holscher concurred, suggesting that "bruised egos" were behind the action.
"For (Alstrom) to be punished in some way, I don't understand this at all," she said.
Hudetz also questioned why Alstrom's actions were being debated after the fact, given that board members were aware of what he was doing, and challenged the need for the township's legal firm, Ancel Glink, to be consulted on whether this and the Aug. 9 meeting were legal.
"It seems this has to do with undoing what was done (by the residents) at the meeting," he said. "I think that is a horrific abuse of funds."