Bloomfield Twp. Treasurer responds to criticism from political rival about work outside the office

Posted at 12:06 AM, Jul 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 00:06:09-04

A political battle between fierce rivals is heating up in an upscale suburb. One elected government official is accusing another of collecting full time pay, for part time work at the office.

On a quiet summer day in Bloomfield Township, employees inside the treasurer's office are hard at work, but the man in charge of it all is nowhere to be seen.

"There's an expectation that you are here during the work day. We put in 50-60 hours all the time," says Township Supervisor Leo Savoie.

Savoie isn't shy about working long hours on a weekly basis.

He says, "I get in 7-7:30 every day and I have meetings into the evening almost every single night."

But, he says fellow elected official Treasurer Dan Devine doesn't play by those rules. He says Devine does most of his work from or elsewhere.

Last Tuesday, we found his office door locked with the lights off. Devine has been with the township for 17 years.

"I believe he makes $139,000 a year. Plus all the benefits. If he only wants to work 5-10 hours a week and be in here 5-10 hours a week, I can't tell you what he does the rest of the time," says Savoie.

We went looking for Devine at his Bloomfield Township home. At noon last Tuesday, we could see his take home vehicle, paid for by taxpayers, parked in the driveway. A Ford Expedition that costs $45,000 and is also part of a six figure salary, benefits & pension package. 

Despite our repeated door knocks, he never answered.

Several days later, Devine agreed to an interview. We asked him, if a citizen comes to speak with him and he's not there, how do they reach him?

"A message is taken. I contact them immediately and meet them anytime anywhere. I've never had a situation where I didn't return a call or wasn't able to sit down with a person immediately," says Devine.

Devine says he was on vacation last week to campaign for office. However a pressing matter caused him to show up to work the very next day after our door knock.

"If I'm in town, I would attend any meetings that are scheduled. Regardless of vacation status," says Devine.

Devine says when he does take vacation within the state, he doesn't have to notify his staff who can reach him by phone.

"I have no obligation to inform them," says Devine.

We asked Devine how many hours he typically works in the office each week.

He says, "It depends on the given week, what I have going or if I have to meet with people or a big project. There's not much I can do from my desk that I can't do from a computer remotely."

Devine claims much of his work is done outside the office because some citizens feel more comfortable meeting at their own homes or offices.

On the streets we also heard from taxpayers.

"If they can get the job done and have the right motives for the people, in that position, I'm all for it" says Cindy Hall.

Wisal Jarbo, another taxpayer, says, "That's very sad. It's not right. He should be in the office and do all that for Bloomfield Township during normal hours."

We also heard from taxpayer Gene Friedman, who says he wants someone at the office "9-5 pm."

We asked Devine is its fair to his staff if they have to be in the office during normal business hours and he doesn't.

"They have different job categories, taking money at the counter, paying bills. That is not what I do," says Devine, who adds, "My results are what people are paying me for, not to be chained to a desk."

Devine also says he sometimes prefers working from home or at the library, but still maintains a 40-60 work week, investing hundreds of millions of dollars for the township.

He points out he's also pursuing a civil lawsuit against Savoie, whom he views as a political adversary, although they aren't running for the same job.

"Mr. Savoie and I are in a very heated campaign where I have a team of people challenging his team of people. They're attacking me personally and that's what the lawsuit was all about," says Devine.

We also spoke with Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, who also oversees hundreds of millions of dollars and has been on the job for years.

"I came in at a time of real financial crisis. While the county offered a free car, gas and cell phone, I turned those down" says Meisner.

Meisner says Devine isn't as easy to reach as he claims. In fact out of 60 local treasurers over 7 years, he says, "I think he's the only one I actually haven't met with the whole time I've been county treasurer. Yes. Yup that's true."

Devine denies that.

"I met with Andy Meisner and helped him become a successful treasurer for the county. How I do my job is my discretion. If people who are electing me in August don't like that they can vote me out, but they've been satisfied for 17 years," says Devine.

We also asked members of Devine's staff to speak with us. So far, they have chosen to stay out of this.