Letters: May 8, 2024

Orion Township clerk silenced me twice
Orion Township Clerk Penny Shults has twice used her power and influence to suppress my freedom of speech.
In 2016, the League of Women Voters partnered with the Orion Area Chamber of Commerce on a live Candidates Forum. I was less than three months into my position as executive director of the OACC. The forum was planned well before I came along. Clerk Shults had an opponent in the race for township clerk in 2016 who was a personal friend and whose candidacy I supported. My husband took photos of candidates’ signs on the lawn of our front yard and posted them to his personal Facebook account. Shortly after, I received a call from the League of Women Voters stating that they had received a complaint from Clerk Shults that she considered the sign in my yard as an endorsement from the Chamber itself for her opponent and we were by advised by the League to remove them from our yard.
Although we didn’t want to remove the signs from our yard, we did so anyway to shield the OACC from further scrutiny. This was the first time Clerk Shults used her power and influence to suppress my freedom of speech.
The second time was on April 24. A post appeared on the Orion Township Elections Facebook page that read, “When you wake up, know that God has already won the day for you.” I asked a simple, relevant question from my personal Facebook account, “How is this post election-related?” My comment was deleted, and I was blocked.
The Orion Township Elections Facebook page is described as: “…for election-related information for Orion Township & Lake Orion Village residents.” It’s listed as a Public & Government Service page and includes the township’s address, phone number, website and elections email address. There is a QR code on the clerk’s page on the township website that links to the Facebook page. Clerk Shults is the administrator for the Facebook page.
As a resident and voter in Orion Township, I should not have been blocked from the page nor barred from asking a relevant question on that post. An email explaining this to Clerk Shults garnered the following response, “Thank you for reaching out. I’ll look into it.” As of the day this letter was submitted I’ve received no further communication from Clerk Shults, nor have I been unblocked from the page.
Having my right to speak suppressed twice by the same person is unacceptable. As a communication scholar, I have respect for the press, which is why I am turning to the Lake Orion Review to express my concerns that someone who holds power and influence can suppress a resident’s freedom of speech when she disagrees with it.
Kim Urbanowski
Orion Twp.

Disturbed about potential sale of the Orion Center
I am very disturbed to learn about the potential sale of the Orion Center to Lake Orion Community Schools. This is not a revenue-generating transaction and adds to the building list of properties that are now the taxpayers’ responsibility to maintain.  We pay for the schools and the property taxes of these new parcels. These costs are mounting.
The Orion Township board approved the GLAC purchase for $8 million without voter approval. It was claimed it “won’t cost the taxpayers anything.” They used funds from “other township programs” surpluses.” Isn’t that taxpayer money? And the additional funding to renovate the GLAC is now to come from the sale of the Orion Center to the schools. Now that’s definitely taxpayer money. The new level of funding will be added forever to the township budget. Have any of you looked at the fees for activities at GLAC? They are exorbitant, especially for seniors on a fixed income and families with multiple children. And I am still waiting for proof of “outgrowing” the current Orion Center.
The Orion Municipal Complex was built in 2020 and the township spent $18.3 million (funded by bonds) without voter approval. I have lived here for 30 years and have seen a lot of these types of transactions.
Stop the deceitful rhetoric of “it’s not costing taxpayers anything.” Isn’t it more democratic to put these transactions to a vote by the ones expected to pay for it? It seems our local government is mirroring the federal trend. It makes us feel powerless to change how they operate.   You can change it by voting and sharing your concerns. It’s our money and our future.
Laura Bringman
Orion Twp.

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