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Friday, November 18, 2011

Under Oath

This past Monday evening, our new mayor and council were sworn in.

An abbreviated version of prior oaths was used, and the version used omitted any reference to the City of Troy and any pledge to uphold the City Charter.

It also omitted the phrase, "...so help me God."

It was the first time in anyone's recent memory that this had been done. The oath, typically administered by the City Clerk, was given by Judge Michael Warren.

Judge Warren created "Patriot Week" and often speaks at area Tea Party events.

As a result of this obvious change-up in proceedings, the social media world, phone lines and e-mail circuits have been jammed with speculation as to WHY our new mayor would make such radical changes. So, I went straight to the horse's mouth to find out.

Here is what I asked our mayor and new council:

I have a question regarding the oath that was taken Monday night, and rather than continue to add to the speculation swirling about I'm coming to this body. Why was any mention of the City of Troy left off the oath? And why was the oath different from those taken by previous councils/mayors? Any insight to this would be very helpful.

Mayor Daniels answered quickly:

In response to your question, elected officials are only bound to take an Oath to the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State in which they will serve. This is stated in Article XI Public Officers and Employment, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Michigan. City Attorney Lori Bluhm was fully briefed and concurred with my decision to limit my Oath to the constitutional requirement. Thank you so much for your interest and concern for our City.

Do you see an answer to my question there?

Nor did I. So I pressed again by asking:

I do understand the LEGALITY of the issue and that your chosen version of the oath was within the bounds of law. However, my question was to the omission of any mention of the City of Troy and our city charter. Why, specifically, was that left off? Ms. Bluhm could also then speak to whether or not you are still bound by the charter and obligated to uphold it.

Ms. Daniels' next response:

One example comes to my mind. Section 3.8.5 of the Troy City Charter states that the Mayor will send an annual proclamation to the U.S. Congress encouraging them to pass a constitutional amendment in favor of term limits upon themselves. I don't agree with term limits. I think they are unconstitutional and so I would have a problem sending in such a proclamation. The best term limits are an informed citizenry who will vote out perceived bad leadership.

I read this over very carefully several times. It seemed a natural conclusion TO ME that Ms. Daniels was saying that she didn't mention the city or the charter on personal principle -- because she didn't agree, she wouldn't pledge to agree. So I responded:

I thank you for your interesting response. I will, as I said, await Ms. Bluhm's legal opinion on whether you are required to uphold our city charter. But can I assume from your answer that you do not intend to follow the aspects of the city charter with which you do not personally agree?

Next I received word from Ms. Bluhm, our City Attorney:

... any city official not compliant with our charter could face misconduct in office charges.

And, finally, hours later, Ms. Daniels's response...

Your assumptions are not accurate.
The Constitution of the State of Michigan binds me to the city charter subject to the constitution and all laws. See Article VII, Section 22

So...there you have it. No matter Ms. Daniels's personal ideology, rest assured. She is OBLIGATED (and apparently has been briefed with the law) to uphold our charter whether or not she agrees with it. She is bound by the Constitution of the State of Michigan.

And we'll be holding her to it...so help us God.

13 comments:

  1. Sue,

    So basically, after all this hoopla, what she swore to in the oath, and the subsequent fall out, and 'second guessing' is really a moot point. She has to uphold the charter because that is a 'default path' if she swears to uphold the state constitution. My question still is, and always was, 'why' stir the pot? End result, from an 'oath' stanpoint, everyone should be happy, although they might be unhappy that there is no 'technicality' here that could have removed her from office. Thanks.

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  2. Thank you Sue, for going to the lengths to satisfy many people who were questioning this. Clearly the new mayor spent a good deal of time researching this. I only wish she had gone to as much effort to research the library issues. But then, that is not a factor in the over-arching ideology of the tea party/libertarians. They are focused on parsing words and phrases that will support, in their view, their positions. I think that as a matter of goodwill, especially if it didn't make that much of a difference legally, that Ms. Daniels would have included the oath to the city. It will be interesting to see if she is willing to listen to ALL the citizens she now represents and be mindful of differing views or be tone deaf to the scene and continue on her path without understanding at the very least the appearance of inclusion or cooperative leadership. The mayor's seat is not a bully pulpit, nor a place where one gets to call in ideological buddies (Mr. Wisz) to do your bidding.

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  3. No. I think the pot was stirred by Mayor Daniels. I think she thought she was being clever by leaving herself some wiggle room to not do things that she didn't think she should have to do. Once all this became an issue, she was apparently informed by someone in the know that she was still legally obligated to fulfill the city charter.

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  4. I haven't called to have her removed from office, so for me...that was never an issue.

    I merely tried to quell some of what you are calling "pot stirring" by finding out the answers to questions many are asking and providing those answers for all.

    An informed electorate is always beneficial, even if some of that electorate thinks merely informing ourselves is pot stirring. :)

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  5. Oh...and this...

    Don't you think leaving an unanswered question hanging often does more harm than good? So by actually verifying information, I think we're doing a bigger service to the community.

    We should probably thank our new mayor for allowing us this chance to learn more about our charter and the state constitution.

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  6. Sue,

    You raise an interesting point.

    Janice claims fealty to the Constitution but has to be dragged into admitting that she must follow the City Charter.

    I'm now worried about how Janice understands the Constitution and what her role is in interpreting it.

    Would Janice seek to close the community center because the power to maintain it isn't in the Constitution? How about the library? Would Janice be willing to admit that the power to maintain and fund the library is in the Constitution?

    What kind of lunatic radical is Janice Daniels?

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  7. " It will be interesting to see if she is willing to listen to ALL the citizens she now represents and be mindful of differing views or be tone deaf to the scene ".. Well, let's look at the previous administration. Did they ALWAYS listen to ALL the citizens? Apparently no, because there is a new regime (and I know that all of those past admiistration were term limited out, but the results of the election do tell us something).

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  8. One minor correction to your post. In 2004, Mayor Schilling, Councilwoman Beltramini and I were sworn into office by District Judges Drury, Martone, and Bolle.

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  9. Dave Lambert...good to know! I'll edit.

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  10. Oh...and thank you. I hate that you can't edit comments for typos/errors.

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  11. Thank you for the thorough investigation that lead to the accountability of Ms. Daniels' oath of office. However, it's minutia. As I'm sure she'll get a quick lesson in the accounting and economics of running a city, I still fear that her ideology will bring the City of Troy to ruin the next time a tax abatement request comes to the table. I wonder how she'll respond when residents complain to her and the city about the substandard way roads will be cleared and patched this winter. I predict she'll do something incredibly stupid and reckless that will lead to a citizen-initiated recall within the year.

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  12. Wow, Sue, this is really incredible. She admitted that she wouldn't vow to defend the city charter because she doesn't agree with it!?
    What more do you need to know about our mayor than that?

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  13. Here is the section of the Michigan Constitution:

    § 22 Charters, resolutions, ordinances; enumeration of powers.
    Sec. 22. Under general laws the electors of each city and village shall have the power and authority to frame, adopt and amend its charter, and to amend an existing charter of the city or village heretofore granted or enacted by the legislature for the government of the city or village. Each such city and village shall have power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns, property and government, subject to the constitution and law. No enumeration of powers granted to cities and villages in this constitution shall limit or restrict the general grant of authority conferred by this section.
    History: Const. 1963, Art. VII, § 22, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964. Former constitution: See Const. 1908, Art. VIII, § 21.

    I don't see anything about "upholding the charter."

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