Saturday, March 3, 2012

Funny anecdote about recalls...

Recall petition against Troy mayor approved
by: Eric B.
Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 11:12:09 AM EST

Several years go, a group of anti-fluoridation activists submitted petitions to the Mt. Pleasant City Commission to remove fluoride from the city's drinking water. The city commission, caught flat-footed, took some very bad advice from the guy who runs the water treatment plant and voted to pull the question off the November ballot because the water treatment plant manager said it would cost the city millions of dollars in bond defaults. I was news editor at the local paper at the time, and immediately read the city charter to research under what conditions the city commission could pull ballot questions. Unsurprisingly, "On the advice of the water treatment plant manager" wasn't listed. I also took a look at the wording of the ballot question, found it vague enough that down the road someone could challenge the city's addition of chlorine to the water, which would violate the Safe Drinking Water Act, a federal law. So, I wrote a column in which I said that the city commission had violated the rights of the activists by making a political decision intended by the city charter to be left to voters, and a news story about the vagueness of the question. The activists sued the city, and the county's chief judge ruled that the city commission violated the city charter and ordered the question back on the ballot ... reworded so that it was unambiguous on the question of chlorine. A week after a successful vote to remove fluoride from the city's drinking water*, one of the leading proponents called me on the phone to tell me that the week before she'd witnessed a friend of hers lay hands on a small child, and channeling the power of Christ, exorcised a demon. As a result, she said, a small child was cured of autism.

Every pixel of that is true.

The point of that story and its connections to the headline will become pretty clear here in a second. We go to Oakland County.

more...

Eric B. :: Recall petition against Troy mayor approved

The Oakland County Election Commission unanimously approved language Thursday for a recall petition challenging Troy Mayor Janice Daniels' vote against millions of dollars in federal funding to build a transit center near the Troy-Birmingham border.

But the commission denied approval of petition language challenging her views on homosexuality, her behavior during her swearing-in and a possible breach of City Council meeting rules.

As has been mentioned here before, the structure of Troy's city government, as far as I can tell, is not one that places a premium on the mayor or the city council. The city's mayor is largely a figurehead who mostly just chairs meetings, cuts ribbons, and occasionally marries middle-aged divorces who want to skip a full-blown hullaballoo. The purpose of allowing a bureaucracy to run the day-to-day affairs of a city is to make sure things operate smoothly and quietly. Once you upset that apple cart by inserting yourself into controversy, you start to annoy local businesses, the local chamber of commerce, and any and all local economic development agencies that want to project an image of stability and sobriety. In other words, you start making the wrong people angry.

Normally, we could expect a good deal of tsk-tsking from various editorial pages who are even more upset at the idea of removing from office people who demonstrate a lack of fitness to serve. The idea is that once elected, unless you get caught in bed with a dead woman and a live boy, you serve out your term. Whatever damage is wreaked as a result is simply a lesson to the electorate to not elevate low-grade morons to public office. In this case however, there's a convenient and even reasonable excuse to bounce Janice Daniels from office.


When she was sworn into office in November, Daniels changed the oath, eschewing a part that pledges allegiance to the city's charter. She called the charter a "whimsical" document, changed at the will of the council.

Tell it to a judge, so to speak. The city charter is anything but a whimsical document, and unless there is something special about Troy's**, it can't be changed at the will of the council but has to be amended through a vote of the people. Electing as mayor a woman who doesn't recognize the inherent authority of a city charter and who isn't familiar with the process by which it is amended is like hiring a police officer who is unaware that he is not allowed to beat people suspected of committing crimes.

*--I voted no, despite my lingering concerns about medicating people with fluoride without their express consent. It remains a personal and professional high point, if for no other reason than I enabled crackpot conspiracy mongering and have the privilege of going to my grave able to say that I played a key role in the temporary removal of fluoride from the city's drinking water at the behest of people who are, to put it mildly, batshit crazy.

**--There is a provision in Troy's city charter requiring the city to lobby its representative in Congress every year for Congressional term limits until those term limits have been achieved.

2 comments:

  1. I am disappointed that the first petition was not approved. Agree with the article that much of the mayor's duties are "largely a figurehead who mostly just chairs meetings, cuts ribbons....allowing a bureaucracy to run the day-to-day affairs of a city is to make sure things operate smoothly and quietly. Once you upset that apple cart by inserting yourself into controversy, you start to annoy local businesses, the local chamber of commerce, and any and all local economic development agencies that want to project an image of stability and sobriety". The first petition covered this aspect, at which Mayor Daniels has failed miserably and in only three months time.

    Also, IMO, even if she didn't agree with the term-limits aspect of the City charter, she still could have pledged allegiance to it, and specifically stated her term limit exclusion proviso at the end of it. As it is, she, in essense, threw out any inconvenient (for her and her minions's purposes) allegance to every part of the City Charter for the obstensible reason of term limits---that is troubling.

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  2. At least they took action on the issue of fluoride in drinking water. This is to keep the health of the citizens.

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