UPDATED: Washtenaw County – Ken Schwartz’ Golden Political Parachute Appointment?

Lame Duck Commissioner Ken Schwartz

UPDATE:  The rumor is true (scroll down).


The “rest of the story” from the Ann Arbor Chronicle:

Appointments: Road Commission 

As an item for current or future discussion, Rolland Sizemore Jr. stated that he was unhappy with the management of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, and he wanted the board to address it.  The staff isn’t responsive, and they don’t return phone calls from residents, he said.  Perhaps it’s time to look at different management, he said.

Wes Prater observed that… they had conducted public interviews for the road commission board (in the past), and he hoped that they would do the same this time.

Sizemore said he’d asked deputy administrator Bill Reynolds to review all of the roughly 60 county appointed boards, commissions and committees, to see if any of them could be eliminated or combined. He wanted to wait until that process is completed – likely in early 2011 – before making appointments.

Kristin Judge suggested conducting interviews for the road commission board as part of a Dec. 8 special meeting.  Ronnie Peterson said he didn’t understand the need to wait – if there were appointments they could make now, they should do it, he said.

By way of background, there are three members of the road commission board, who are appointed by the county board of commissioners.  The road commission has its own budget – funded by the state – and operates independently from the county.  A public hearing on the road commission’s 2011 budget is set for Dec. 9.

One of the three current road commissioners – David Rutledge – was elected to the state House of Representatives on Nov. 2 (which) leaves one vacancy on the board.  Seven people have applied:

  • Mary Beth Day of Grass Lake, chair of the Washtenaw County Conservation District.
  • James Drolett of Pinckney, a planning and zoning administrator for the city of Chelsea, and former Dexter Township supervisor.
  • Scott Hummel of Dexter, an elementary school physical education teacher in Dearborn and golf course supervisor for the Leslie Park Golf Course in Ann Arbor.
  • Roger Kappler of Sharon Township, former CEO of Hines Industries and former Sharon Township trustee.
  • Jeffrey Alan Lewis of Pittsfield Township, chief of the Milan police department and a former 20-year veteran of the Ypsilanti police force.
  • Jackson Morris of Pittsfield, a retired Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher and administrator who also served for a decade as Pittsfield Township supervisor.
  • Kenny Siler of Manchester, owner of Pleasant View Farms and president of the Washtenaw County Farm Bureau.

In addition, Sizemore has plans to nominate current county commissioner Ken Schwartz, a Democrat representing District 2 who was defeated in the Nov. 2 election by Republican Dan Smith. This possibility has not been floated publicly during any of the recent discussions at county board meetings, but in a phone interview with The Chronicle, Sizemore said he felt that Schwartz was the best person for the job.

Sizemore said that Schwartz – whose district covers northeast Washtenaw, including the townships of Superior, Salem and Northfield – is familiar with the county, having previously served on the board of Superior Township and as an attorney for Augusta Township, in addition to his work as a county commissioner.  Schwartz also understands what the board of commissioners wants from the road commission, Sizemore said….

There is precedent for this kind of move. The county board appointed Wes Prater to the road commission when Prater lost the election for his county commissioner seat in 2006. He resigned from the road commission during his 2008 campaign for the county board – he won that election, and has served as the board’s liaison to the road commission since then.

Road commissioners, who earn a base salary of $10,500, are appointed to six-year terms.


This Designated Conservative has gotten wind of whispered speculation of a move afoot by lame duck Democrats on the Washtenaw County Commission to give outgoing Commissioner Ken Schwartz the ultimate golden political parachute:   appointment to the cushy and politically lucrative position on the Washtenaw County Road Commission, filling a vacancy created by David Rutledge‘s pending move to the state legislature.

Accurate or not, the rumor is believable because this This is exactly this sort of mutual back-scratching cronyism that the electorate rejected last week when they voted a resounding “No!” on returning Mr. Schwartz for another term.  The last position Mr. Schwartz should be appointed to is one where he is called upon to represent and serve the very same voters who rejected him eight days ago.

The Road Commission appointment should be left for the new County Commissioners, and should be an open process of inviting interested individuals to apply and be considered in an open meeting of the Commission.  Mr. Schwartz should have the opportunity to be considered, but only as part of this open process.

No amount of urgency to fill this position can justify Mr. Schwartz’ premature appointment.


Click here

Want to tell your county commissioners what you think about this blatant cronyism?  Here’s where to find their names and contact information:  http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/boc/.

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