Karin Winchester, Holly Township clerk and secretary of the North Oakland County Fire Authority (NOCFA), asked for a public apology and a retraction of allegations made against her. She did this during the NOCFA Board meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16 when she read a letter put together by her attorney.
Winchester said if her demands are not met, she would pursue legal action.
Peter Stouffer, the citizen-at-large from Rose Township, motioned to censure Winchester during a special NOCFA Board meeting Sept. 27. The Board voted 3-1 to censure her for opening a letter addressed to the Holly Township offices, where she is the clerk, which had Stouffer’s name on the envelope. She then shared the anonymous letter with the Board.
Winchester motioned to have the censure rescinded during an Oct. 19 meeting. Her motion failed by a vote of 2-2. A majority voted was required. Stouffer abstained from voting and the Rose Township representatives voted to keep the censure while the Holly Township representatives voted to rescind the censure.
The NOCFA board is comprised of two Rose Township Board of Trustee members, two Holly Township Board of Trustee members and one citizen at large. Representing Rose Township are Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider and Treasurer Paul Gambka. Representing Holly Township is Clerk Karin Winchester and Supervisor George Kullis. The citizen at large is Peter Stouffer of Rose Township.
On Nov. 16, Winchester read the letter and demanded an apology and public retraction of the criminal allegations made against her by Stouffer. She has claimed she did nothing wrong by opening a letter sent to the Holly Township offices.
Scheib-Snider motioned that this issue be discussed in closed session, however, Kullis said this matter did not qualify for a closed session meeting.
Winchester said, “You guys slandered me in public.”
Stouffer motioned that the Board go into closed session. They did by a vote of 3-2 with Kullis and Winchester voting against a closed session.
Following the closed session meeting, the Board agreed to seek a legal opinion on Winchester’s censure.
November 9, 2021
Via Hand Delivery and First Class Mail
Peter J. Stouffer
c/o North Oakland County Fire Authority
P.O. Box 129
Holly, Michigan 48442
Dear Board Members:
I represent Karin Winchester with respect to certain comments made about her and a censure vote taken by the North Oakland County Fire Authority (NOCFA) Board on September 27, 2021. Specifically, Ms. Winchester was falsely accused of criminal activity and thereafter several board members ratified those false statements by voting to censure her. Those Board members are notified that Ms. Winchester demands a public retraction of the comments and the censure.
My review of the facts and circumstances of this matter do not show any criminal or unlawful conduct on Ms. Winchester’s part. My view is supported by the lack of any interest or attention from the Postal Inspector, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. Presumably because those seasoned law enforcement officials saw no crime was committed and recognize immature small town politics when they see it.
Ms. Winchester’s reputation in the community has unequivocally been damaged. I note that the Youtube recording of the Board meeting has ten times more views than that of next most watched NOCFA video. The vote to censure Ms. Winchester was taken without seeking the opinion of NOCFA legal counsel. Mr. Stroub also appears to have written his “motion” in advance of the meeting, strongly suggesting a premeditated effort to tarnish Ms. Winchester’s sterling character.
On behalf of Ms. Winchester, I demand an immediate, public retraction of the comments made on September 27th. I also demand that her censure be vacated immediately. Should the Board decline to do so, I will have no choice but to pursue legal action against the Board and the individual members who voted to censure Ms. Winchester for libel, slander, false light among other causes of action.
NOCFA serves an important role in protecting the health and safety of Oakland County residents. I doubt those same citizens will approve of the conduct exhibited during the Board meeting, if I am forced to pursue legal action.
Very truly yours,
Gerald J. Gleeson II
cc: Ms. Karin Winchester