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Monday, December 22, 2014

"How Much Does A Little Spanish Girl Sell For?" Allendale Supervisor Faces Recall After Township Employees Claim Racism, Sexism, Sexual Harassment









 By Brandon Hall 

(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)


Allendale Township Sup. Jerry Alkema is under fire after Township employees have levied multiple allegations against him.

In an independent report compiled by Calvin College surveyors and obtained by West Michigan Politics, employees say Alkema regularly makes racist and sexist remarks, sexually harasses female employees, and has given preferential treatment to male employees, creating a culture of fear and a poor working environment for Township staff.


Chris McMullin, a member of the Ottawa County Republican Party Executive Committee and candidate for Allendale Township Trustee, is launching a recall against Alkema if he doesn't resign by the beginning of 2015.

Allendale's elected clerk, Candy Kracker, abruptly quit Friday, telling MLive  she was "done, done, done" with Alkema's BS.

Kraker

"Allendale Township Clerk Candy Kraker has announced in an email that she is resigning because of "the toxic environment" caused by Supervisor Jerry Alkema.


Kraker said Friday, Dec. 19, she is resigning but will continue to work through the end of December. The Township Board will be responsible to appoint a temporary clerk. Deputy Clerk Carla Leifers is on medical leave through the month of January.

Kraker has served as clerk since her election in 1988. In her e-mailed message, Kraker said, "The toxic environment caused by the supervisor has just done me in and now I am having physical issues because of it...so, I am done...done...done."

Kraker praised township employees. "I will miss you all so much...you have been an absolute pleasure to work with!"

One Allendale Township employee's remarks do a  good job of summing things up in the next few paragraphs. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE REPORT)

"Conflicts among co-workers are few and resolved between the co-workers. We have a great team of workers. Sexual harassment...only by the Supervisor. If he wasn't elected, he would be fired. Same with racial remarks...he has very obvious biases against African Americans, Hispanics, any non-Dutch race. Here is an example..."how much does a little Spanish girl sell for?"

Or...when he talked to a black woman on the phone and then met her in person, he was surprised that she was black because she
sounded smart on the phone. Females are treated poorly. He has no respect for them. He cusses around us guys, but he has also been known to say the f word to the ladies as well, which makes them very uncomfortable. General bullying is what he does on a consistent basis.

There are no conflicts among coworkers, so there is nothing to handle, we function great together, its the Supervisor who has told people that they cannot be friends or shouldn't hang out together after hours. We have lunch together often in the office. Now that the Supervisor has the lunch schedule he has made it more difficult for us to do that.
I have never experienced sexual harassment at work but have seen and heard it several times. The first time it was brought to the board it was dismissed and pushed off as nothing. The second time it was a lot worse but she never did anything because she nothing would have been done about it.

But I sure know that its inappropriate to make hand gestures of masturbating in front of a woman that you work with. Any other person would not have there job. Unfortunately that person has (now) since quit. But nothing would have been done. His language is deplorable and not appropriate in the work place. As far as race, he will quickly bring back a minority to another office person to deal with them before he will. As far as in the office the Supervisor defiantly puts down women and men do a better job, including compensation for that job, it so disgusting I don't know how to describe it.

There have been instances where the township supervisor has acted inappropriately including making sexual gestures to female employees. This should not be tolerated!!! These instances were brought before the township board and no action was ever taken.


The employee continues:

"Nothing ever written up and placed in personal files or a (reprimand) given. Lots of inappropriate language, The "F" word used frequently, which is also not professional and I find it very offensive. There is much gender discrimination at work. A male employee is allowed to leave at 4:30 on his scheduled work days and even when he was full time. Another female employee wanted the same schedule because she does come in early every day but was told by the township supervisor that that was not allowed.

The male is a department head and when he is not here there is no one covering his department. The female has coverage of the department but was denied. There have been several verbal outbursts between co workers and the township supervisor. This does create an hostile work environment.

Very little respect for female employees is displayed. Very socially awkward with both staff and citizens. Many confrontations. The township supervisor has lost his composure in public meetings, becoming unprofessional."

Another employee says:

"Eight years ago I would have and did tell everyone the Allendale Township was a great place to work, not just because of boss es we had but because of honesty, the fairness, the fact that you learned something. That is not the case anymore.

Everyday the Supervisor causes some sort of stir in the office, he can't just let people work and do there job. That's all I want to do is my job the way I was taught, not with just being under this side of wrong. It use to be a very nice place to work. You were treated with respect. Your opinions mattered and you felt part of an organization. Not that way anymore. I like the fact that it is very close to my home so there is little commute time.  communication is a big factor in our jobs. We have great communication between workers. I do not feel my talents are being used here at ACT.

My potential is not being filled and I am praying for a turnover at the next
election. I love my workmates and I am anticipating a time when I can once again do my job, be encouraged in my job, excel at my job, enjoy my job and be proud of my job, as I once was. The moral is just so low here now and sometimes it is all I ca n do to get through one day. The way that [Alkema] gets things done is by bullying and intimidation. Once again- I am serious.

In life I had  never met a male chauvinistic pig or an adult bully-- until I met [Alkema]. He is both.

Because it's a hostile working environment.-a first in over 30 years. You can feel the tension in the air! And I do mean HOSTILE. The
uninterested board is not concerned and the "absent" public is totally unaware of this. We all try to put up a good front."

>>>This isn't the first time Alkema has faced a recall. It's actually the third.

In 2009, it was claimed:

"He Violated the Open Meeting Act from 3/13/09 to 3/19/09 by
participating in e-mails and telephone conversations with trustees
regarding disciplinary procedures of the building and zoning
administrator until advised to stop by the township attorney.

 2- Used extreme profanity toward township staff, such as, mother f----r, S.O.B. and G-- damn etc. and made sexually harassing comments to female township
employees as the elected township supervisor.

3- He violated township citizen’s trust. On 4/20/09 he was investigated by the Ottawa County Sherriff’s office (complaint #0904240070) for recording township telephone conversations that began after he took the oath of office in
November of 2008.”

That recall fell short.

In September of 2010, a recall was again approved against Alkema after it was claimed he sexually harassed two women, among other things. Here is a section of relevant minutes from the meeting:

"SUBJECT: REVIEW AND COMMENT ON PROPOSED PEITION LANGUAGE FOR THE RECALL OF JERRY ALKEMA, ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR

Mr. Feyen gave introductory remarks on the role of the Election
Commission in the process of recall language approval, and then read
aloud the proposed petition language for the recall of Jerry Alkema,
Allendale Township Supervisor:

1. Continues to harass township employees and creates a hostile work
environment. Two female employees have filed written sexual
harassment complaints against Supervisor Alkema. Appointed a
review committee of untrained, at will employees, under his direct supervision to investigate the first sexual harassment complaint. A third employee was threatened when told “I have stuff on you too”after said employee spoke in favor of union organizing.

2. Did not follow township attorney and treasurer’s recommendation on
8/06/2010 that he resign his position.

3. Squandered township funds for personal gain by having Township Attorney prepare rental inspection service agreement with Blendon Township for inspection of his own rental properties within Allendale Township, stating it would be a questionable move to allow Allendale Township staff to inspect
his property.

4. Has allowed Township Attorney bills to go up by 97%
from 2007 ($36,838) to 2009 ($72,669). Is asking for $275,000 for a
new park property. All this at a time when funding is so tight that staff
has been laid off, sidewalk improvements are put on hold, and
department heads feel even more needs will suffer with further budget
cuts. "

However, that group also fell short according to this MLive article:

 "ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP — A group petitioning to recall Township Supervisor Jerry Alkema fell short of the necessary signatures needed this month to put it on the ballot.
The Allendale Accountability Committee, led by residents Mitch and Kathy VanderLaan, collected just over 1,000 signatures but needed 1,181 by April 14.

It marks the latest failed attempt to recall Alkema. He was targeted by a different group amid two efforts in 2009 that could have resulted in recalls for all seven Township Board members but that failed to reach a vote.

“It’s not really anything I ever took seriously,” said Alkema. “It ran its course and I didn’t hear anything more after the first few weeks.”

The VanderLaans said they probably would have gathered enough signatures, but many residents balked at learning that the township would bear the cost of a special election."

Alkema has also had other controversies, like when employee Phil Brummel, fired by Alkema after 22 years, said:

"The whole thing stinks...It stinks to high heaven. "I don't think you've ever worked for Allendale," Brummel told Alkema at the meeting. "I think you've worked for you and a handful of residents."

Alkema survived against Brummel and two other foes at the ballot box in 2012 after his opponents split up the votes against him.


"After hard campaigning by all four candidates for Allendale Township Supervisor, incumbent Jerry Alkema was returned by voters to the office for another four years.

Total ballots cast were 2,287, with 1,048 going to Alkema (45.8percent of votes cast). Jeffrey Meyer received 542 votes, 23.7percent; Philip Brummel received 509 votes, 22.3 percent; and Shawn Suits received 187 votes, 8.2 percent.

"Obviously, voters did see the decisions that were made were right," Alkema said. "We want to  keep making the right choices."  Alkema did a mailing, went door to door, and "tried to get as much information out there as I could.""

Alkema took office after defeating an incumbent Supervisor in 2008.

(More info soon from Gena Rickney at Watchdog Wire Michigan.)
_________________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
:)
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson



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