In 2004 Brianne Randall-Gay was a high school soccer player when she came to the Meridian Township Police and told them about her encounters with former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics Doctor, Larry Nassar.
“I think everyone knows what happened in 2004, we missed it, we blew it,” said Township Manager Frank Walsh. “Here we are 14 years later and we’ve all come forward to learn that what she was saying was true.
On March 20, the Meridian Township Board approved a consulting agreement of $30,000 towards a sexual assault prevention and educational course program led by Randall-Gay. The consulting agreement passed with a vote of 6-1 in favor of the agreement.
“In February, we altered our goals,” said Treasurer Julie Brixie. “Because of the severity of the events that transpired, we’re really serious about changing the culture of what happened, and are focused on moving forward in a positive way.”
Brixie, who was in favor of the agreement, said this proposal is in line with the goals and the new direction of the township.
“This consulting agreement and sexual assault prevention program is consistent with the township’s own goals that we modified this year,” said Brixie. “I am glad to see that we are moving forward with this and I look forward to the conversations and education of our greater community.”
Not everyone on the board was in favor of the means by which the new program would be initiated. Clerk Brett Dreyfus was the only opposing vote. He said he felt there were better, more qualified options.
“I’m trying to find a way to do things that are legal, appropriate and good for the taxpayers,” said Dreyfus.
Dreyfus’ main concern was with the amount of money given to Randall-Gay for her services, and for her lack of qualified counseling experience.
“Our commitment to developing this type of program, does not mean the township abandons fiscally responsible spending policies and the way we normally do business in the township,” said Dreyfus. “Even if it’s an emotionally volatile topic.”
Dreyfus said he wanted to make clear that his issue was not with having a program like this, but simply with the proposed contract and the terms within it.
Dreyfus said the board should issue a request for proposal to a few local organizations in the Lansing area that specialize in sexual assault consulting and prevention programs.
“What we have is two organizations, locally, that are highly skilled and have been doing this for years,” said Dreyfus. “They may not charge anything for their services, they’re funded already. They may charge zero cost for doing this, we don’t know because we didn’t issue a [request for bid].”
Trustee Dan Opsommer said he admires what the township is doing for such a serious and prevalent topic.
“I appreciate that this entire contract, not the contract itself but the purpose here, is to implement a community-wide program that educates youth on how to identify these issues, from the perspective of a victim,” said Opsommer.
Supervisor Ronald Styka said this is a special circumstance, and that request for bids are not required in this situation. He also said he supports the proposed consulting agreement.
“We have a circumstance where we are having Brianna help us in a unique way, we have a unique soul source,” said Styka. “Along the way we’re probably going to have to hire other people … but her unique experience is going to benefit us in a unique way.”
Walsh said from the beginning the person he wanted was Randall-Gay. He said he felt like the entire community owes it to her for what happened in the past.
“In this case, I wanted Brianne,” said Walsh. “She suffered at the hands of this township, greatly. That’s who we wanted to run this program, and she offered to do it.”