The conflict results in a special policy for the trustee’s communications
TWP PARK. – A clash between a Park Township administrator and the Township Director led the council to create a formal policy for communications between the two.
Under the policy, approved by a 4-3 vote on Thursday, manager Howard Fink is not required to respond to emails from trustee Jeff Hoekstra and cannot be sanctioned by the board for not doing so. Rather, Hoekstra is encouraged to obtain information on canton affairs from the clerk’s office.
Hoekstra and Fink have clashed since Hoekstra returned to the board in November. Hoekstra criticized Fink’s management of the township in private and in public and Fink complained that Hoekstra made false statements about him and distracted him from his work.
“We have tried to fix this problem, but without success,” said supervisor Jim Gerard. “Due to some recent emails it has been suggested by legal counsel to allow Fink to ignore Hoekstra emails. It has now been recommended by legal counsel that we formalize this with a board vote.”
Township attorney Dan Martin said the goal was to protect Fink from any employment consequences, or litigation, that might result from their unfavorable relationship.
“This only exposes the manager to a potential risk if he ignores the administrator Hoekstra […] it could come back and potentially hurt manager fink in his job evaluation and lead to discipline because he ignores one of his seven bosses. The board ultimately hires the director, ”said Martin.
“[…] This proposal would not prevent Hoekstra from sending emails to the manager or posting things on social media or otherwise. It wouldn’t be censoring him. That would essentially be giving the manager the power to ignore these emails. ”
Hoekstra said he found it “unnecessarily difficult” to obtain information from the commune since his election. When he was first elected, Gerard told him he would have to submit Freedom of Information Act requests for information for the information he requested.
Gerard then apologized and said Hoekstra was no longer required to submit FOIAs.
“I’m a little worried that in order to deal with this we are making a policy that weighs me down unfairly,” Hoekstra said. “What if [Trustee] Steve Spoelhof gets on Howard’s wrong side and all of a sudden they have an argument and now we have to have another policy that Administrator Spoelhof should go through the same hoops as me? ”
Fink said he welcomes and encourages dialogue and wishes an end to the conflict with Hoekstra.
“I believe in civil discourse. I support healthy debate. […] I want to have a good working relationship with every board and team member at Park Township, ”Fink said in an emailed statement.
“But I also have to protect my reputation, career path, and family when faced with misinformation and half-truths. I would much prefer that we focus on delivering the township’s agenda and keep improving. our amazing community. If necessary, I will take action to protect myself and provide factual and contextual information to set the record straight. ”
Trustees Hoekstra, Loran Serne and Steve Spoelhof voted against the policy.