Scio Township Board Trustee Jane Vogel says she's stepping down
Scio Township Board Trustee Jane Vogel is stepping down at the end of January.
She made this announcement in a letter addressed to the township board and others. The letter was also made available to The Sun Times News.
“I am grateful to have been elected to the Scio board and appreciate the confidence expressed by many in my role on the board,” Vogel said in her letter. “After an extraordinarily difficult decision process, I have decided to step down from the board due to professional and family priorities that require my fuller attention. January 31, 2022 will be the effective date for my resignation.”
Vogel was elected for the first time in 2020. She also served on the township’s Transportation Alternatives Planning Committee (TAP).
She and township supervisor Will Hathaway have both been facing recall efforts.
The township board will now need to replace her.
Here is the rest of her letter:
The following observations and thanks are offered as a strategic look at the past year in Scio Township including Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (a strategic planning model called a SWOT analysis).
Respectfully Trustee Jane Vogel
Many of the Boards and Commissions which are a great asset for the township have been refreshed in an effort lead by Supervisor Hathaway with wonderful resident volunteers. Thank you to all who have stepped up and to the Trustees who serves as the board representatives. This is a wonderful way to serve the community and it can be a lot of fun.
• The Land Preservation Commission (LPC) is working to secure a second 100+ acre parcel to preserve as farm land in perpetuity. Existing preserves have been expanded and access improved. It’s been a big year for LPC and a lot of work. Many thanks to the LPC, Trustee Courteau and especially to LPC consultant Barry Lonik.
• The Parks and Pathways millage Scio voters approved in 2019 has been put to good use. Three nature preserves including Liberty Pond, Marshall Park, and West Scio Preserve have been opened to Scio residents with parking areas and walking trails with more features planned. Many Scio residents have enjoyed guided walks in the preserves coordinated between Parks and LPC. Many thanks to the Parks Advisory Board (PAB) and Trustee Jerome. After many years the Parkland Plaza sidewalk is finally complete due in part to four wonderful community funding partners including the Scio DDA. Phase III of the Zeeb Road Pathway is complete and $1.5M has been secured in a State of Michigan grant for future phases. Many thanks to Representative Lasinski for her leadership on the grant. This is where I have been able to take a lead role and extend a hearty thanks to TAP for moving the pathway network forward.
• The new Sustainability Task Force was launched out of the Planning Commission to develop a climate action plan for the township and to work in partnership with adjacent communities. It has been a privilege to working with Trustee Courteau and Planning Commission Chair Culbertson on this launch. Many thanks to the 20+ residents who have volunteered for this task force.
• The Local Roads Advisory Committee has been reset with a new charter and new resident volunteers to ensure a robust and transparent process for resident to drive road improvements within their neighborhoods.
So much more has been accomplished. The Fire House renovation is almost done and the new red doors are a beautiful signature feature in the community. Thank you Fire Chief Houde for your leadership and to the firefighting staff. It’s difficult to work through a major renovation. Much work has been accomplished to ensure Water & Sewer capacity for future township needs. Thank you goes to Utilities Director, Steve Wyzgoski for your good work. There have been gains and new approaches in the Gelman dioxane contamination which Trustees Knols and Courteau continue to guide.
Based on the needs confirmed in an all-employee survey in January, some of the key staffing needs have been addressed with the help of an excellent HR professional Supervisor Hathaway brought to the township. Most importantly, after a robust search process, a new Township Administrator, David Rowley, is onboard as of December 1 and brings deep experience and expertise to the job.
This is a strong and capable board deeply committed and working incredibly hard on behalf of Scio residents.
In the two year vacuum without a Township Administrator there are mis-alignments and overly extended roles and responsibilities that have created tensions and difficulties for township staff. Those voices and concerns will be heard and addressed by the new Administrator who serves as chief-of-staff.
Core board functions have been embroiled in polarized disagreements. Financial reporting is a core function and yet this board has gone the whole year without financial reports. That is unacceptable for any board. Many concerns have been raised at the Budget and Finance Committee that need to be resolved. Budget and financial management must be a top priority for the new Administrator.
Stepping back, where this board struggles is the conflict over board meeting administration and process. Agenda setting is a pitched battle for control. Meeting protocols are routinely debated. There is a lack of trust and confidence among a majority of the board that the draft minutes are a complete, accurate and unbiased record of meetings. Discussions are prolonged and repetitive without progress. Board meetings go as late as 11:00, 12:00 even 1:00 in the morning. This is not sustainable and more importantly it does not serve our resident well.
All of this detracts from the real work of the board which is to serve our residents. Essential adjustments are needed as we go into the new year. We are at a pivot point in the township with the new Administrator now in place. It’s an opportunity for a reset for this board.
This board was elected to represent 18,000 Scio residents, their issues and the larger agenda of the township. The current structure of online meetings needs to be optimized to listen to all residents while allowing the Board to conduct business in meetings of a reasonable length. We need to seek balance in representing all of the residents of Scio. To do otherwise is to the detriment of overall civil discourse and erosion of the representative democratic process.
We have all lived with this pandemic for coming up on two years. The Zoom-based meeting format has enabled broad public engagement and needs to continue. Yet this format has compromised our capacity to get to know each other and to develop relationships and trust. Going forward the board needs to finds ways to optimize the Zoom experience and to finds ways to bring the board and the community together in person.
Addressing these Threats and Weaknesses and building on the Strengths and Opportunities provides great hope that Scio Township will continue to be the lovely community we all value so much.