by ANDREW NEAL
Amid the standard protocol one would expect to see at a local Board of Trustees meeting – the pledge of allegiance, roll call, agenda items and the like – a new scene has become a regular routine in Shelby Township: personal attacks levied at Board members during public comment, and return fire from the elected officials.
The meetings have turned into an all out verbal war, which if nothing else makes for entertaining, albeit PG-13, local television.
Months ago, the Board chose to limit public comments from five minutes to three per individual. The move continues to infuriate many of the meeting’s regular attendants.
However, longtime watchdogs like Ron Churchill and Thomas Turner are still able to squeeze their critiques into the shortened window.
“You don’t give a rat’s ass about the people of Shelby Township,” Churchill said at the Dec 7 meeting. “You people disgust me.”
“(Mr. Flynn’s) absenteeism is getting to the point where he’s stealing money from the taxpayers because he’s not putting in the work that he’s being paid for,” said Turner, adding that he will be watching Flynn closely over the coming months.
“He’s welcome to stalk me all he wants,” Treasurer Flynn responded. “He’s living in 1955 and we’ll let him live in 1955.”
A father and son duo, Gary and Grant Golasa, have upped the proverbial harassment ante by threatening the trustees, attacking their character, and accusing them of corruption.
“I’m going to ask you a question and if you lie, I’m going to release some photos in this red folder,” said the son, Grant, to Supervisor Stathakis at the Dec 7 meeting, holding up the metaphorical charade folder labeled what can only be assumed “top secret dirt.”
“Have you ever had an extramarital affair during your time in office?”
Grant Golasa, a lifelong resident of Shelby Township and avid Trump supporter, lost a bid for Township Trustee during the most recent election – a bid that did not have the support of Supervisor Stathakis, Treasurer Flynn and Trustee Douglas Wozniak, despite the three having had friendly ties with the Golasas previously.
“What we have here is a case of sour grapes where his father and him will sit in the audience and make faces and stick their middle fingers up,” said Treasurer Flynn.
“We were all willing to work with the man and help him in his career in politics but he decided he wanted it now and when we didn’t want to support him, now he’s coming up here attacking us at every meeting.”
In an interview with Shelby TV during his election bid in July, Golasa echoed the talking points of Donald Trump, saying “we need leaders who are great,” calling campaign finance contributions “pure corruption” and local leaders “not well educated.”
“If you look at the current status of Shelby, we don’t win. We don’t win against anyone. Clinton Township, Utica, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills. We have to start winning.”
Just before the primary election in August, a brochure appeared in the mailboxes of several Township residents depicting board members as Nazis saluting Supervisor Stathakis, whose picture was photoshopped to look like Hitler.
Stathakis has accused Golasa of distributing the propaganda and says he has evidence to prove it. Golasa has denied any involvement in the brochure.
On a number of occasions after Golasa speaks at the board meetings, Stathakis will hold up the brochure and reiterate his accusations, a move that has angered even some of his supporters.
“Don’t be showing that picture no more,” one resident said. “It’s so disparaging to show that picture again. No matter what he says, we know about that. If he wants to come up and talk, let him talk. We all know different.”
At the Dec. 21 meeting, Grant Golasa used his three minutes to continue to bully the bully pulpit, directing his initial insults at Treasurer Flynn and his fiancé.
“She’s never going to marry you. I’ll inform you of that much.” He continued, “In the divorce papers, it shows that you were consistently drunk at home and she could not tolerate your abuse.”
Stathakis interjected. “You’re really digging deep here and I would ask you to refrain from attacking character.”
“At the last board meeting he insulted me viciously,” Golasa said referring to the sour grapes. “Why is it alright for him to insult me and for me not to rebuttal?” Golasa continued, questioning whether or not Flynn was ever arrested in college, which Flynn later denied and threatened to sue for slander, before turning his attention to the Supervisor.
“My question is still posed though. Have you ever had an extramarital affair?”
Stathakis responded, “Well I’ve already said, absolutely not. I’ve answered that question and I’ll answer it again. And I just want to say that I hope that this Christmas season you can find some peace when you come back here in January without some disdain for mankind.”
Gary Golasa, a dentist with a private practice in Sterling Heights, likened the three minute talking time limit to an oppressive oligarchy.
“From now on I will refer to Supervisor Stathakis as King Stathakis.”
Gary Golasa used his three minutes on Dec 7 to focus on what he sees as a pay-for-play operation of campaign contributions between Stathakis and other board members like Wozniak and private contractors in the Township.
“Purchasing influence is something that you do very well,” he has said of Stathakis, after accusing Trustees like Douglas Wozniak of taking contributions in exchange for a contract renewal.
After his comments, Wozniak noted, “I didn’t receive any money from whoever he’s talking about.”
“Yeah, I’m not really sure what they’re talking about either,” Stathakis shrugged, “but let’s let them talk and, whatever.”
Read Part 2 from Jan. 20, 2017 – Public Comment: Shelby Trustees Harassed, Again, in 3 Minutes Flat