Court filing reveals Genoa has been paying attorney $150 an hour to fight school

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So this is how Linda Rowell will be spending your money if she’s elected Genoa Township supervisor. And this is the kind of fiscal responsibility you can expect if Todd Smith and Polly Skolarus are both re-elected in Tuesday’s primary.

It was revealed last week that Genoa Township has been paying an attorney firm $150 an hour to keep a small Christian school out of the township. That’s how much the township has been spending to fight a lawsuit from Livingston Christian Schools, which wants to locate in Genoa.

The Township Planning Commission, of course, gave near-unanimous approval to the school, but the Township Board has decided to play politics with children, and is fighting it.

In a court filing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, it was revealed that Genoa has been paying attorney T. Joseph Seward and his law firm $150 an hour to keep Livingston Christian out of Genoa. Thus far, T. Joseph Seward’s firm has spent 540.6 hours on the case, which adds up to a whopping $81,090 in Genoa Township taxpayer money that has flown out the door, all to fund a political vendetta that Rowell, Smith and Skolarus have against Livingston Christian.

This case has been in the headlines for almost a year now, and nobody is happier about that than T. Joseph Seward. His wallet is $81,090 thicker with Genoa Township money, thanks to Linda Rowell, Todd Smith and Polly Skolarus.

And if voters cast a ballot tomorrow for Rowell, Smith and Skolarus, nobody will be smiling bigger than T. Joseph Seward, because that means his wallet will be getting even fatter.

So if you see T. Joseph Seward standing at the polls tomorrow holding up a sign that says “VOTE FOR LINDA ROWELL,” you’ll know why. Whereas she’s been very bad for Genoa Township taxpayers, she’s been very good for T. Joseph Seward. A vote for Linda Rowell is a vote for T. Joseph Seward’s bank account.

And according to the motion that was filed Thursday, T. Joseph Seward wants everyone to know that at $150 an hour, Genoa Township has actually been getting a bargain! He COULD be charging them more than double that!

Quoting from the motion, which can be seen in its entirety here: “This recent survey indicates that the mean or average billing rate of Mr. Seward’s experience, 33 years, is $276 per hour. It further indicates that the mean billing rate for an equity partner in a law firm, such as Mr. Seward and Ms. Rosati, is $333 per hour.”

So consider yourselves lucky, Genoa Township taxpayers! T. Joseph Seward is willing to work for the paltry sum of just $150, but he COULD be dinging you for $333 an hour.

It’s now up to the voters, of course, to decide whether Linda Rowell, Todd Smith and Polly Skolarus will be returned to the Genoa Township Board. The Republican primary is Tuesday, and if all three of them are returned to the board, it’s a good bet the legal battle against Livingston Christian will continue.

So the choice is pretty clear for Genoa voters. If you want your tax dollars to go toward township services, parks and roads, don’t vote for Linda Rowell, Todd Smith or Polly Skolarus.

If you want your tax dollars to go to T. Joseph Seward, then do vote for them.

About Buddy Moorehouse 101 Articles

Longtime Livingston County journalist Buddy Moorehouse is director of communications at the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.

25 Comments

  1. Todd Smith and Linda Rowell just learned what happens when you subvert the will of the people.

    Truth is that there’s a few NIMBY’s who don’t want the school, but the majority of the people would like to see it approved. And always keep in mind, Planning Commission (the experts) 6-1 approval, Trustees (the politicians with a foolishly admitted ax to grind wrt irrelevant prior permit issues) 4-3 Disapproval.

    However you want to slice it, even the officials in the twp. hall wanted it approved by total 10-4 (Good Buddy). That’s probably about how the entire township residents feel about – over 2/3rds would approve it.

    Rowell and Smith subverted the will of the people. Smith did it with reckless arrogance and stupidity, and now they are gone. Skolarus survived because she voted for the project. It’s all pretty clear.

    One of the better examples of the people penalizing those who would subvert their will. Sadly, Rowell is probably a more trustworthy person than Bill Rogers, but she made her own bed on this one.

  2. It’s amazing that since the school issue came up Buddy has had such an ax to grind with Genoa township. Funny how he doesn’t seem to mention his wife’s involvement with these schools and how, instead of being an actual journalist that reports honest facts, he basically has designated himself as the hit man. Doing the dirty work for that group while acting as though he has journalistic integrity. Used to have much respect for him but have learned his words seem to be full of mistruths, twist and context issues.

    • It’s good that there are people willing to talk about things they believe in. Think about what an even worse mess we’d be in if everyone in the country were a whining pansy making up reasons that other people’s shared opinions shouldn’t be shared.

      It’s hard to speak truth to pansy but the truth is there is nothing dirty about sharing an opinion. The dirty things in Genoa just got cleaned out. Moorehouse deserves praise for being an American not afraid to share his opinion. You, not so much….the pansification of this county isn’t complete, but it obviously got to you.

  3. Todd Smith and Linda Rowell defeated. 3 New people on Board.

    I’d say it’s a good bet that Seward’s Con is finished. School approved by February.

  4. Suggestion for the Naz:

    1. Obtain all details of Seward’s billing justification for 540 hours of work

    2. Ask the court to review: “Your honor, Seward says this is a frivolous lawsuit, while at the same time claiming he needed 540 hours to respond to it. Does that make sense, Judge ?”

    3. 540 hours is 13 weeks at 40 hours per week.

    4. Your honor, do you think 540 hours were actually expended, or is Mr. Seward conning the people of Genoa Township ?

    5. We could understand 540 hours if Mr. Seward thought the lawsuit was serious, but he says it’s frivolous your honor….is something very wrong, here ?

    Honestly, these fools on the Board are getting worked over by a lawyer who knows how to play to their feeble minds.

  5. Since when is paying a township attorney $150/hour is a big deal? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Neighboring municipalities acquire similar fees when working with attorneys, regardless of the case’s subject matter.

    • Ever since the attorney in question claimed to have spent 540 hours on a matter which has had no discovery, no trial…just a response and a hearing. $83,000 to get a dismissal which has been appealed.

      Funniest thing – in the sad sense – is Seward is claiming it was a “frivolous” lawsuit !

      How do you explain to a Judge that it took you 540 hours to respond to a frivolous lawsuit ? It can’t be done – enough to make a cat laugh, not to mention a Federal Judge.

      Frivolous lawsuits take 8 hours to defend, not 540. The laughable story about getting those fees back is the attorney taking advantage of a dumb Board which wants the public to think that money is coming back….it isn’t…more likely a whole lot more will be pissed away by fools.

  6. Good Lord, people. This is about a school – a SCHOOL – children, parents who want a good education for their children, and a church who is willing to provide the space for it. I think these three should get off their high horses and just approve it. This is what happens when people go into politics and the “power” starts to take over. I pray for them.

    • It does corrupt over time.

      One of the things I like about Fiani and Wholihan is they seem like nerds – guys who get a charge out of doing things right. There’s a lot to learn, even at the local level, but the vast majority of these clowns don’t have any interest in actually understanding their responsibilities or statutes or principals. Those two strike me as guys that actually pay attention to these things.

      Can you imagine Todd Smith actually trying to learn about what his job is ? The guy runs a completely illegitimate Rec Authority whose statutory basis requires approval by voters (never gained) and an approved funding level (never gained). Drinking and being a public servant do not mix.

  7. Still, I think Rowell would be a much better Supervisor than Rogers. There is no family syndicate which has done more harm to Livingston County than John, Joyce (deceased), Mike, and Bill Rogers. People are going to be blown away by the wrong-doing in sewer and water facilities, including Genoa’s MHOG….blown away….

  8. How lame is this article? The title shouldn’t be “fighting the school”, it should defending the suit filed by the school. But don’t worry about the Genoa taxpayers Buddy. The Twp will be getting the legal fees back soon. You really need to get a life or get some anger counseling. I only read this rag because it’s starting to sound like the National enquirer and the shock value is entertaining.

    • You’re not just “reading” this rag,Jimmy…you are sharing your opinion. The reason you are sharing your opinion is that it frustrates you to see public discourse which exposes the corruption and stupidity of a few yokels on the Genoa Twp. Board.

      Chance of township getting it’s legal fees back: about 1 in 50, maybe less. Planning Commission near unanimous approval alone provides enough substance to ensure it’s a legitimate lawsuit.

      Number of Genoa Twp. officials who approve of the school: 10
      Number who disapprove: 4

      10 – 4 Jimmy. While true the Board has the final say, it is a Board with a questionable pattern of judgment, containing at least 1 dumb drunk and others who’ve been there forever….not to serve the public, but to serve themselves and their perceived power.

      Given the 4-3 narrow vote to disapprove, the biggest mistake of the Church lawyers was to not demand a statement from Todd Smith explaining his behavior on the day of the permit vote, including a signed statement that he hadn’t been drinking.

      Drinking and Driving kills.

      Drinking and Voting hurts kids and their parents for a long time…until eventually the school gets approved.

      I do not know for certain whether it would be illegal or criminal for Todd Smith to vote on public matters while drunk, but if it’s not, Genoa needs to make it a local ordinance and breathalyze the guy before he votes.

  9. Pretty sick board at Genoa. Seward is playing with fools, leading them down the path….

    And if you really think this guy Seward spent 540 hours on this….Todd Smith has a piece of swampland to sell you…location, location, location, folks….it’s right next to a margarita tavern !

    • It doesn’t really matter what the legal costs are. The township backed the resident and was wronged by this school, confirmed by a federal court (in record time I may add) and now they should get whatever they can get. If the township paid this amount for legal services, they should receive this amount. The dissecting of the legal bill or arguing the attorney firm’s actual time they invested on this matter, at this juncture is another issue. Focus dude!

      • I see a bunch of words, but you have no idea what you are talking about, to wit:

        1. The court dismissed the matter on the theory that the Church’s claim that the denial created a “substantial burden” was not met.

        2. The appeal is based on the Church’s claim that there is a substantial burden created and the ruling was in error.

        3. Nothing has been determined on merit and the Church has lost no position in the matter.

        4. The current situation is it is still in court.

        5. The chances of getting attorneys fees back is close to zero. The mere fact that it was near unanimous approval by the Planning committee indicates it is not a frivolous filing. The reason the lawyer is soaking the township for more money to “attempt” to get attorney fees back is a combination of grandstanding (false outrage against a legitimate filing) and politics…basically the board wants the public to think they might get the money back because they are so embarrassed about spending $83,000 on this fiasco.

        6. The church doesn’t even have to win the appeal to get eventual approval…just has to get a few bozo’s off the board – Todd Smith and Polly Skolarus will do….

        Whatever happens, that $83,000 is long gone into the sewer of Seward. Add another $5,000 for the failed attempt to get attorney fees, and whatever the appeal defense costs and this is going to be one big, embarrassing fiasco where the egos of fools know no bounds when it comes to wasting public money.

        Fiasco in process. All to stop a school – A SCHOOL.

        If you dive deeper into the minds of the fools who created this fiasco, you’ll probably find they don’t believe in school choice, and are afraid of state per-pupil dollars going to the new school instead of the public schools. Competion, good. Fools in public office, bad.

  10. Kind of like the City if Brighton against the 2 Bonner homes… Although the attorney for them offered to put up a substantial bond, offered a time limit to complete and agreed to put them to Greenfield Village standards, 5 to 2 against rehabilitation of the 1854 and 1860 homes.
    Who benefited so far Law office of Paul Burns to the tune of OVER $200,000.00 so far…
    Maybe that is why the city has only 87k to fix its roads…….

    • No Susan, its totally different. You just can’t resist giving a jab to the City. Mr. Bonner is a spiteful old man that has done the samething in two other municipality’s.

      Have you heard that posting negative things without offering a solution is just whining..

      • Larry, I was at all the city meetings including the construction board of appeals. I speak what I know as fact as I also sat in the court room year after year. I have written and visual documents stating that the city wanted to use the property behind the houses for parking but they couldn’t because of the homes. I can show that Genoa Twps. Linda Rowells husband had not (legally) ever been in them before he red tagged them for demolition… You should understand I don’t make comments I can’t back up in writing…

      • Let’s say you are right. Then we have to believe the City spent $200,000 to fight a spiteful old man….whatever justifications you find it was a waste of money by a Board controlled by the employee lawyer. It’s supposed to be the other way around.

      • Main problem in the city is the people who live there have to be nuts – sky high taxes and generally not friendly to families. There are a few decent neighborhoods, and but for the most part it’s absentee landlords renting out their houses (I’d guess it’s 50% rental properties and the owners don’t really care) and then a whole lot of high tax revenue businesses near I-96. That’s a recipe for real weirdos running the place – for some reason too dumb to not move to a low tax township.

        Not saying it’s charmless but it’s all about soaking absentee landlords and the mall businesses by I-96.

    • If you don’t like the City’s decisions, run for office. Oh wait…never mind. Didn’t you do that like 7 times. You condemnation of any issue is an endorsement.

      • Jim I use my full name yet you don’t/won’t. Why is that?

        • William Buckley once said never debate someone who is not a debater. Could be changed…never debate a bohnhead.

          • Wow I doubt that Brighton city councilman Jim “Bohn” would care for your comment…
            Again, still no last name.

      • Love him or hate him, Moorehouse is just speaking his mind about things he sees. Straight-forward criticism with an edge.

        Compare that to the weasels at the Livingston Daily: Their editor, presumably smarmy Jim Totten, claims to be “puzzled” about why Fiani is running against the Treasurer and Wholihan against the fake Republican Skolarus. According to the weasels, everything is fine and it’s just “puzzling” why anyone would even try to run themselves. It’s little more than a disguised insult, disrespecting Fiani and Wholihan.

        More people should run for these offices, not less….and they shouldn’t be discouraged by a smarmy Livingston Daily editor like Totten.

        Livingston Daily’s approach is always “everybody is doing great, and should be re-elected”. Pretty pathetic….need more people like Moorehouse speaking their minds. Not hard to see where he stands….Totten on the other hand, he’s just puzzled, we’ll never know why….laughable. And probably a good reason on its own to vote for the challengers like Wholihan and Fiani.

        As smarmy as Totten is, I have to agree with their papers support of Rowell over Rogers. People are going to find out a lot about the Rogers clan over the next year, as Brighton Township’s sewer corruption unfolds in Federal Court.

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