Washtenaw County judge rejects Scio Township Clerk's request for a temporary restraining order

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Washtenaw County Judge Tim Connors denied the request made by Scio Township Clerk Jessica Flintoft asking that a temporary restraining order be granted against the rest of the township board in the matter of a board-approved contract.

However, this was just the first step in the court case that was pending as of April 25.

The court decision to reject the request came on April 21. Connors’ ruling said in part that it wasn’t appropriate for a judge to step in and play the role of which he or she is not elected to do, and in this case that is run a township board.

The Sun Times News (STN) followed up with Flintoft to get her response and she said by email:

“I am grateful to the Court for holding this first hearing on the reckless actions of the Scio Township Board of Trustees that prevent me the elected Clerk from carrying out my statutory duties that safeguard our public funds from corruption. This Board’s assault on fundamental checks and balances and professional standards is shocking. Township taxpayers and employees deserve better. I hope that the Court provides the relief requested to put this Township back into compliance with the statutes and rules of this state.”

In lead up to this, Flintoft said in part during the April 12 township board meeting that “It was only after deep consideration that I decided to take this step,” she said. “This board left me no other choice. As you know as well, as part of it, I filed a motion with the court to seek a restraining order against this board to prevent the cancellation or modification of the emergency contract with Rehmann Robson that was signed appropriately by the treasurer and I on March 16, has a term of March 17 to June 30 to carry out our very basic accounts payable and payroll functions. That motion is scheduled with the court, Judge Connors, Thursday, April 21 at 11:30, next Thursday. That’s all.”

She said then she was seeking injunctive relief to remedy the township’s emergency and longstanding need for greater financial staff at the township and to roll back certain legal actions the board has taken over the past eight months to erode the clerk’s office statutory responsibilities related to finance.

In reaching out to the township board about Judge Connors’ decision, STN asked Scio Township Supervisor Will Hathaway to ask if there was a response to the court’s decision.

Hathaway said by email:

“The Board of Trustees voted on April 12 to terminate a contract for consulting services. The Township clerk disagreed with this decision by the Board majority. She sued on April 11, in part, to block that vote and then to overturn it. The judge denied the clerk's request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the termination of the contract. The rest of the lawsuit is still pending.”

“The ruling by Judge Connors was an initial rejection of the clerk's effort to have a court intervene in Township governance. The judge stated that it is not appropriate for courts to step in whenever there are disagreements between elected officials. I hope that we can soon put the clerk's lawsuit behind us so that we can focus all our efforts on serving the residents of Scio Township.”

When Flintoft announced her suit, Hathaway said to STN, “the clerk's lawsuit seeks to reverse multiple, legitimate actions taken by the elected Board of Trustees. These votes by the Board majority are decisions with which the clerk disagrees. She lost these votes, and now she is suing to overturn the results she doesn't like. The clerk's lawsuit is an attempt to negate the authority of the Board while increasing the unilateral power of the clerk.”

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