Editorial: … but I Googled It? Um … oops!

Jan 6, 2012 by

Last night (January 4th, 2012) we reported that The Bruce Township Board held a “Special Meeting” that addressed two topics; an ALS agreement between Bruce and Almont, and two requests for a Bruce Township liquor license.

To give you a glimpse into how absurd this meeting went, we need to take a quick look at the history of the issue.

Here is the original story we wrote about the issue. - Click Here -

In January 2011, Times Square Restaurant went before the Bruce Township board requesting a Liquor License. The topic was discussed in detail, and ultimately was “deferred” to the Bruce Township Planning Commission for a recommendation. At the time, Bruce Township Trustee Paul Okoniewski was NOT on the Bruce Township board, but WAS on the Bruce Township Planning Commission. As we reported in our story, the issue did not go in front of the Planning Commission for 10 months (October 2011). This meant that everyone on the Bruce Township Planning Commission had 10 Months (10 MONTHS!) to research the issue and be prepared to discuss it at the Planning Commission meeting in October.

At the Planning Commission meeting in October of 2011, Trustee Okoniewski was a member of both the Bruce Township board and the Planning Commission, and discussed this topic at length with the Planning Commission. At this meeting, Mr. Okoniewski made comments suggesting that he didn’t support giving Times Square a liquor license.

Fast forward a few months to the Bruce Township board meeting in December of 2011, the Times Square request (along with the new request from Dimitri’s Steak House) was brought up again (now the 3rd time, and 12 months after the original request). The topic was tabled again, postponed until the regular January meeting. Instead of waiting until that meeting Bruce Township scheduled a “special” meeting shortly after the holidays when everyone is still sleeping off all the holiday stress. On the agenda is the liquor license. However, there is a new development… they now have a “surprise” 2nd license awarded by the State of Michigan.

Here is where things get almost comical. Trustee Okeniewski announced that he’s performed “extensive” research on the establishments. He stated that he has talked to Pete Lund and Don Brown… and… he “Googled” Times Square. He addressed the owner of Times Square and said that he understands the establishment is a National Chain … Right? Um oops! He is informed that it is NOT in fact a National Chain. He proceeded to explain again how he “Googled” Times Square and a bunch of Times Square restaurants came up and apparently this means that it is a National Chain???

After having this issue in front of him for 13 months, and discussing it at 3 different meetings, Trustee Okeniewski just decided to do extensive research, and his extensive research is Google? He didn’t even call the business to find out before the meeting? He didn’t remember it being discussed in the last 3 meetings?

Mr. Okoniewski ultimately voted in support of the license for Times Square.

Let’s move on a little…

During the meeting, the agenda turned to the Liquor License votes. Up for vote is liquor license #1 presumably for Times Square (whom originally requested the license in January of 2011)? Nope! It’s Dimitri’s (who requested the license 2 months ago)?! What?!?

Fact is, it really doesn’t matter, but honestly it’s this type of behavior that makes people wonder what is going on!? I believe Mr. Okoniewski is a very intelligent and upstanding citizen. What I can’t understand is how this type of thing is happening? Maybe he doesn’t have the time to effectively do his job? Maybe something a little more is going on behind the scenes? Maybe he doesn’t think it’s something worth his time, which is perfectly within his right to do, but it’s pretty obvious that this type of behavior is getting on the nerves of a lot of people.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post…

- Brian -

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  1. DJ

    I struggle with the actions of the entire board. From outside the community, it would make a great sitcom. Unfortunately those inside the community suffer from the impact. So what is it, small town politics out of control? I was at the early meeting when Times Square requested the license, it was pretty clear then that they didn’t intend to give them one. They were going to save it for another opportunity – perhaps Dimitri’s was already in the works and promised? So much for the transparency this board is always touting.

  2. paul a heller

    The fabrication of the Sewer Water Special Assessment District (SAD) to cover the multi-million dollar bond issue was another “Board” failure and the talk of going west to subdivisions on 33 mile will lead to a new Board. It is obvious that the “new” elected officials have verified the Peter Principle by rising to the level of their incompetence. Isn’t Dimitri’s Steak House part of a chain or multiple establishments? Now that the Bruce fire department has a tri-township area to cover, can we expect more taxes for bigger and better? Taking on the Almont coverage of 81 sq.miles is a bit much. Almont is not paying it’s share when they are charged less than the taxpayers of Bruce/Romeo.

  3. Bridget Lamberty

    My only comment here is to clarify some facts, if I may. The Planning Commission did not have 13 months to research this subject. The Liquor License issue was not presented to the Planning Commission until October of 2011. It was not put on any Planning Commission agenda until that time. The commission as a whole, was not aware that we would be put in the position that we were put in. I, as the newest member of the board, had no time to research and was not aware that Times Square had applied for a liquor license in January of 2011. That fact was also not mentioned during our discussion. With that said, when it was brought forth to the board in a public forum, it was as a “discussion”, as requested by Mr. Tiganelli, not a “recommendation”, as it is not under the Planning Commission’s authority to decide. We were to discuss areas that may be of concern to them, the Board of Trustees, when making their decision.

    • Bridget,

      Thank you for your comment, but I don’t necessarily agree with everything. :)

      First, in my opinion, if the Board of the Planning Commission had no idea they were going to be asked to “discuss” the Liquor License, until it was brought up in the October meeting, there is a fundamental communication issue with both boards. The issue was covered in the local press (see the Observer Story here) in January, and at least one member of the Planning Commission Board was at that January meeting (Karol Regius – Click to see Meeting Minutes). I find it hard to believe that the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, and future Township Trustee, didn’t know about this meeting or the topic. If that is in fact true, this is another issue that I could write an editorial on.

      The second thing I’d like to comment on, is your comment about the Board being asked to “discuss” the topic and not “recommend” something. To a certain extent, I agree with your comments, and while I’m sure there is a “technical” difference between the two I feel like they are ultimately the same, and believe the PC Board performed both tasks. In fact, if you reference the January, 19th 2011 Township of Bruce regular meeting minutes, you’ll read:

      Motion by Falker, support by Brockmann to refer to the planning commission for their recommendation.

      Clearly, the word is “recommendation”.

  4. Geri Rinaldi

    …..and then there was Susan Brockmann, Bruce Township Clerk, who jumped into her “I-have-some-e-mails-to-read” mode once again.  No doubt people have different opinions on why, or why not, a business should be given a liquor license.  My question is:  Did Clerk Brockmann do her due diligence in checking out the concerns expressed in one of these e-mails?  Did she drive through the parking lot at Times Square to see if there was actually any evidence to support the concerns?  Did she speak with the owner personally about the so-called concerns?  Did she speak with the owner, as well as other tenants in this strip of stores regarding “loitering”.  Something tells me she did not.  One would ask, why not?  It probably did not fit into her desired outcome.  As often as I’ve been to Times Square, I have never seen anything to support the complaints in that e-mail.  Again, did she check it out?  If so, with whom did she speak regarding this issue? Why would she read an e-mail from an anonymous person?  In my opinion, if a person isn’t willing to reveal his/her identity, his/her statements must be found suspect.  Perhaps this individual is unable to support the concern with facts?

    ……Continuing down the line at the Board table, we come to Jim Tignanelli, Bruce Township Supervisor.  It was interesting to hear him expound on what I feel was his intent to diminish the array of menu items at Times Square, although he was quick to state this was not his attempt….hmmmm!  However, one might question why he failed, or chose not to mention the Veal Parmigiana, Fettuccine Alfredo, Fisherman’s Platter, Salmon, etc.  At a previous meeting, Tignanelli mentioned he had had breakfast at Times Square…..what?  Not dinner where patrons may order a cocktail? Now, one may ask what difference does it make what’s on the menu when a liquor license is the agenda item?  Was this a feeble attempt to cast a shadow over Times Square’s application for a liquor license?  Was he just wanting to hear himself talk rather than focus on items pertaining to the issue?

    Did Dimitri’s receive such scrutiny?  NOT!  The discussion on this agenda item was so skewed one may ask, why?   What were they thinking?  If this is what the Board calls due diligence, they missed the mark.  Did Okeniewski, Brockmann, and/or Tignanelli have any concerns about Dimitri’s having a restaurant for only one year?  Poof!  There goes a liquor license!  Was any concern given to the fact that Times Square owns the property and Dimitri’s just rents?   Did Trustee Okeniewski “Google” Dimitri’s?  If so, why didn’t he questions whether or not Dimitri’s was a National chain?

    To add insult to injury, comparing Times Square with a restaurant in a nearby town was the icing on the cake.  They would have been better served to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.  Once again, some members of the Bruce Township Board failed to perform their due diligence.  Did they choose, instead, to scrutinize one restaurant and give the other a pass?  At the December Board of Trustees meeting, they decided it would be prudent to visit each location and speak with the owner.  Did any of the five Board members do this?   Would it be dereliction of duties if you failed to do so?  Come on, let’s be transparent and honest.  Furthermore, relying on a Google search is absurd!

    Oh….let’s not forget the mysterious letter from the State that never arrived.  I’d like to hear more about how this happened, and how someone found out about a missing letter.  Bingo!……a second liquor license!  Let’s not forget the year Times Square had been waiting for the verdict, so to speak, while Dimitri’s waited about two months…….hmmm.                                              

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