NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
The forecast by a community leader after the passing of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Saturday, August 3, that the jockeying for power was “going to be an absolute shit show,” has certainly come true. It seems the Democrats, who for the first time in over 40 years, had a majority on the county board of commissioners, don't know what to do with their newfound power. First, as foretold in this column, board chair Dave Woodward (D-Royal Oak) resigned right after he called an emergency board meeting just five days after Patterson's passing, a necessity by county law to allow him to be appointed executive, a long-stated goal. Insiders had told Downtown that prior to that planned Thursday, August 8, meeting, approximately a half-dozen Republicans had agreed to support Woodward for executive appointment – freezing out main Democratic opponent county treasurer Andy Meisner. Meisner quickly threw sand in that plan, lamenting the lack of transparency and calling for a vote of the public. Commissioners have 30 days to appoint a new exec, or must have a public vote, with Patterson's chief deputy executive Gerald Poisson having been sworn in as interim exec – so there is someone running the county. New board chair Marcia Gershenson (D-Bloomfield) quickly cancelled that meeting, and said a bipartisan committee would take applications for exec, which she initially said would be made up of four Democrats and two Republicans, (but only consists of her, fellow Democrat Gwen Markham (Novi) and Clarkston Republican Tom Middleton). There could be a possible appointment Friday, August 16 (after initially setting the meeting for Thursday, August 15 – same day as Patterson's funeral). The latest is Republican caucus chair Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion) sent a memo to Gershenson demanding parity by adding Tom Kuhn (R-Troy) to the appointment committee, noting that “a balanced committee and a process that is fair and equitable is more important than the current arbitrary date of Friday, August 16.” As of the application deadline for appointment to the county executive post, 21 candidates, many unqualified or joking, applied, with Dave Woodward one of them. Then, Woodward dropped a bomb – he withdrew his application for exec on Thursday, August 15, and withdrew his resignation from the board, once again giving it an 11-10 Democratic majority. Word is the Dems will try to appoint Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter to finish Patterson's term. Oakland County GOP Chair Rocky Raczkowski sent out an emergency email entitled “Scam!” in which he said the party planned to ask the court for a restraining order to stop Woodward from rejoining the commission and making the appointment. All the maneuvering and backroom dealing won't preclude a showdown between Woodward and Meisner in 2020.