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State Staying Out Of Gagnon Dispute

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The Michigan Attorney General's Office has declined to become involved in a dispute , about the fappointment of Ypsilanti Township Supr. William L. Gagnon to a trustee's post on the Township Board last month. Wesley E. Prater, one of Gagnon's fellow trustees, had requested the attorney generai's office to itake action against Gagnon's appointment on the grounds that it was illegal. In what was generally acknowledged as a political power play, Gagnon - who ,lost a re-election bidfor the supervisor position to former County Cmsr. William E. Winters in the Democratie primary in August - was appointed trustee for two years'on Nov. 19 to fill the unexpired term of Richard Branham. Branham resigned nis trustee's post the same night, as part of a prearranged series of job reshufflings, to replace Chester Wilson as superintendent of building and grounds maintenance at the township Civic Center. Wilson accepted a position with the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority of which Gagnon is chairman. In order to have a quorum voting on the Gagnon appointment, Ypsilanti area land developer and Gagnon friend John Lundblad was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Trustee Henry Sturza, who had died two weeks earlier. Sturza's term had 13 hours to run when Lundblad i took the trustee's chair frustóé-elect Prater, who was to be I sworn into office the next day, was in the I audience but was overlooked in favor of I Lundblad. I Prater retained Jerold Lax, former I Ann Arbor city attorney, to explore the I possibility of legally challenging 1 non's appointment. ; Prater is challenging the appointment I on the basis that Branham's resignationl did not conform to state statute requir-l ing a resignation of a township officer to I be in writing. I Lax received the attorney general of-I fice's response Friday. The letter did not indícate why Attor-I ney General Frank Kelley would not in-l tervené, but Lax said he presumed it wasl because a state official didn't want to become involved in local politics. The attorney general office's letter 1 so did not offer an opinión regarding the legality of the appointment. Although he was unavailable for comment today, Prater has said an attorney general's decisión not to become involved wouldn't mean the end of nis challenge. He said he either wanted tö see Gagnon removed from the board or a ruling that he has a legal right to be there. , Lax said Kelley's refusal to become involved clears the way fór Prater to file a lawsuit against Gagnon or against the Ypsilanti Township Board.


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