Request for early retirement unveils lawsuit appeal by O’Leary

— Discussions regarding early retirement for deputy building inspector Michael O’Leary at the Aug. 9 meeting of the Flint Township Board of Trustees were tabled after it became known that O’Leary still has a lawsuit pending against the township.

At the Aug. 9 meeting, Supervisor Karyn Miller brought forward the discussion regarding changing the terms of employment for O’Leary, essentially purchasing service credits towards his early retirement. The service credits, which would have come from the township’s general fund, would have O’Leary vested for 25 years of employment with the township. Miller said the move was instigated by her, as a way to reduce township expenses, since “there is not a lot of work to be done by a building inspector in Flint Township.”

Miller said she initially talked to O’Leary about reducing his hours to parttime, but O’Leary said he would rather be bought out than reduced down to a parttime status. As board discussion ensued, Miller said that the attorney told her to “proceed with caution” when deciding to sign O’Leary’s resignation agreement. Trustee Frank Kasle asked which attorney, to which Miller replied Peter Goodstein, the township’s attorney.

“My opinion on the document is not to sign it,” Goodstein said.

It was at that time that O’Leary admitted he still has a pending lawsuit in the State Court of Appeals against Flint Township. O’Leary filed his lawsuit last year, suing the township and former supervisor Doug Carlton. The civil suit, filed Aug. 28 2009 in Genesee Circuit Court, alleges emotional distress, humiliation and harm to O’Leary’s reputation in regards to an incident surrounding his failure to find major code violations for the former Beach House Bar & Grill on Beecher Rd. When it was filed, the suit sought damages in excess of $75,000. According to the suit, the defendants (township agents, employees and servants) harassed O’Leary for standing up to racial discrimination against a black-owned business, catering to black clientele.

After receiving the caution from Goodstein, the township board was hesitant to move forward on O’Leary’s request of signing the early retirement document.

“If the arrangement (early retirement) is acceptable, then you should drop the appeal,” Kasle said to O’Leary. “If there is a lawsuit pending, then that needs to be settled before we sign this document.”

Kasle made the motion to table O’Leary’s early retirement request until the Aug. 23 meeting, saying it would be best to get clarification from the lawyer who is handling the case.

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