Editorials

Legal fight offers another example of why township government should die

Earlier video: Meeting of St. Clair Township officials turns argumentative

In a file video from June 2016, things get heated in a confrontation between Highway Commissioner Skip Kernan and the members of the St. Clair Township Board. The two sides have been fighting over the number of highway workers in the township.
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In a file video from June 2016, things get heated in a confrontation between Highway Commissioner Skip Kernan and the members of the St. Clair Township Board. The two sides have been fighting over the number of highway workers in the township.

You’ve got to hand it to St. Clair Township Highway Commissioner John “Skip” Kernan. Who thought township government could be so entertaining.

It’s just sad that the price of admission is so high to taxpayers.

Kernan has elevated his feud with his own township’s trustees from shouting and sarcasm at meetings to legal arguments in a courtroom. He is suing them because they refuse to allow him the budget to have five full-time workers rather than the three plus a part-timer.

Kernan’s lawsuit claims the township board has the right to set the budget, but not control the line items. He may be right.

He was elected to set the priorities for the township highway department, and that would logically extend to working within his budget and with trustees and constituents to set priorities.

But you can be within your rights and still be dead wrong.

This lawsuit will not cost Kernan or the trustees, it will cost the taxpayers.

Kernan said he’s willing to do fewer big projects in order to get nearly $100,000 needed to have his five workers. He’s willing run out of money in December, about the same time the snows need to be plowed, to have his five workers.

Whether in dollars or service, township taxpayers will pay for Kernan’s arrogance and inability to persuade trustees that his judgments are correct.

His one solid service might be offering yet another example of how inefficient and wasteful it is to have all these little fiefdoms, all with their own taxing authorities. Abolishing township government and allowing cities and counties to absorb their duties would bring efficiencies — starting with elimination of Kernan’s $60,885 salary — and allow our state to start fixing its hostile tax climate.

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