Here we go again! How many times will Troy's temporary appointed mayor Dane Slater land our city in the Courts? How many times will this former lawman be caught breaking the law? How much is our city spending to defend him on these trips to court? How much OTHER lawbreaking is there that we still haven't learned of (but will end up paying for)?
Troy resident Charlene Femminineo tried to speak at City Council meetings back in November and December, only to be cut off at the microphone by temporary appointed mayor Slater. Twice in November her appearances at the microphone were removed from the official version of the council meeting video that is rebroadcast over cable tv, and also available for download through links on the Troy web site. When Femminineo signed up to speak again on December 3, 2012, Slater first warned her before she spoke that there were certain topics he would not let her speak on based on her previous appearances, and then later he ordered her away from the microphone. Never mind that Femminineo has the right under Federal and State law to speak on any topic she wishes. See the December 3 video of Femminineo's remarks here.
Femminineo's resulting lawsuit, filed in Federal court on Friday, April 12, was covered on local Channel TV4 news Wednesday night - see the story here. Notice that Troy city attorney Lauri Bluhm is quoted saying that Femminineo was unruly. Femminineo's complete appearance on Dec. 3 is covered in the video segment linked to above - do you see her being "unruly", or is the city attorney just mouthing some lame excuse to cover for her boss Dane Slater until the election is over, when the city will doubtless fold on this open-and-shut case against Slater and hand over taxpayer dollars to Femminineo and her attorney? Click here to read the court filing.
Now, at last, we have more on what it is that Femminineo has been trying to talk about, and it's clear why Slater wants to shut her up. It seems that temporary appointed mayor Slater was the Captain in charge of the unit where the disappearance (or theft?) of $40,000 in cash once used by the Troy Police Department in drug sting operations back before he retired from the Troy police force. Word of this missing $40,000 in taxpayer provided funds has been gossiped about around town for years. But now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request Femminineo filed with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, we at last have more of the details. These documents make it clear that Slater was the supervisor, from 2005 through 2008, of the unit where the money disappeared.
Six edited pages were released in response to the FOIA request, and are attached for your information. This is still an open investigation of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. For this reason we presume, some pages are withheld, and some information was lined through with black marker so that we can not read it. One part of the gossip for years has been that another officer who had access to the missing taxpayer money requested and passed a lie detector test. Perhaps that information is part of what has been hidden from us here? We don't know if the money has been stolen or not, we do know that it is still missing and the explanations are just not very good!
The documents we have are:
1. a letter from then Troy Police Chief Craft to Oakland County Undersheriff McCabe reporting the disappearance and requesting an investigation,
2. a two page statement by Troy Police Captain Frye covering his knowledge of the missing money,
3. a one page memorandum by Troy Police Lieutenant Pappas stating his knowledge of the missing money, and
4. pages three and four of a three-page (see the margins - I kid you not?) April 15, 2009 investigation report that describes portions of the investigation including conversations with Dane Slater.
In brief summary, these pages show that the money was discovered missing shortly after Dane Slater retired in early 2009. The money was "officially" last seen FOUR YEARS EARLIER(!) in Dane Slater's possession, in early 2005. Thinking back in 2009, none of the officers involved can recall the money being returned to the safe. Access to the safe combination was always restricted, possibly only to two officers, Slater and one other, at any given moment. But then perhaps it never went back to the safe, those interviewed ponder; it could have just been dumped into Slater's file cabinet and forgotten or overlooked ever since. Honest injun, folks, you just have to read this stuff to believe it - it reads like a skit that you could expect to see the Three Stooges performing. So here it is -
The list of questions that these papers leave unanswered is practically endless, not just for Dane Slater, but for Troy's city administrators and city auditors as well - lets start with these:
1. Why was there never an audit from 2005 to 2009?
2. Why would this amount of taxpayer cash be left unaccounted for for so long a period?
3. If the money was not in use, not needed, why would it not have been returned to the city Treasurer?
4. Mr. Slater, you were the unit supervisor, why didn't YOU order a periodic audit be performed?
5. Mr. Slater, during the investigation you suggest that you may never have had the safe combination even while another officer remembers giving it to you - why would you have gone four years without getting the combination if you didn't have it, and then check on all that cash? ? ?
6. Was this lose insured? And has the city filed an insurance claim for the missing $40,000? Was the claim paid?
Thursday, April 25, 2013: The above story is beginning to get more traction in local media, with attention now moving to what it was that Ms. Femminineo was trying to call attention to all along. See the Wednesday, April 24 story in the Royal Oak Daily Tribune here. Also, see the Detroit Free Press on Monday, April 22 here. Be sure to read near the end of this Free Press article, where Slater is quoted saying "I had nothing to do with it," adding that he was retired by the time the Oakland County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation. None of us were wondering where you were when the investigation started, Mr. Slater. What we are all wondering is where you were when the $40,000 of taxpayer money disappeared sometime over the preceding four years? The six pages of FOIA material (see above) tell us that the money was last seen in your care in 2005!
And just think, Slater is one of the people who recalled Janice Daniels because she was embarrassing our city! Less than three weeks in his temporary appointed mayor office and he had Troy in court as a defendant being sued by Michigan's Attorney General, and now this. One can only wonder - what's next for Troy?