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Facts, civility must rule at public meetings

More and more, we live in a society where facts are disregarded and manners are optional. It's not a good look for any of us at any time, but at city commission and township board meetings, it's downright unacceptable.

In recent months, Bloomfield Township Treasurer Brian Kepes has been on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of vitriol and misinformation by a small group peddling half truths regarding a piece of real estate he has owned since 2004 – long before he was a member of the board of trustees. The property is finally being redeveloped, along with others, after 20 years as a site of blight. The site, at the corner of Squirrel Road and South Boulevard, was once a typical strip shopping center which held a Kroger, long since closed. After years of decay, the location went into foreclosure and the township forced the owners to demolish it.

Kepes has been a businessman and real estate developer for years – as others in the community are – and there is no prohibition in Bloomfield or any community against elected officials holding an outside job or interests. When there is an appearance or actual conflict of interest, public officials should just recuse themselves from voting on anything in which they have an interest.

Kepes has done an excellent job of recusing himself every time anything to do with the property at Squirrel and South Boulevard is on the agenda. Yet, there is a group of alarmists, one that would rather deal in deception than facts and resort to noxious name calling at meetings, that continues to show their lack of understanding that Kepes, supervisor Leo Savoie, clerk Jan Roncelli and trustees Neal Barnett and Michael Schostak are consistently taking the long view, looking out for all of the residents of the township, not just a select few from a special interest group.

We are disappointed that long-time trustee Dave Buckley has found himself entwined with this disruptive group, members of which have had to be removed from meetings by police. This is not a positive force for the community.

Questioning people who hold public office is part of the process, but facts and civility must drive the conversation.

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