Below is a letter sent to the Troy Times editor in response to an article which appeared in the September 20 edition. This weekly newspaper is mailed free to all residents of Troy. I’ll offer more explanation to Troy Patch readers since there is more space. Letters to the editor in printed newspapers must be concise and are often blunt.
Patch readers are familiar with my opposition to moving the train station a quarter mile to add bus service and more parking spaces at a cost of over six million dollars, borrowed from the next generation, with no improvement in train service. This is one of the reasons Mayor Daniels is facing a special recall election in November. Opposition to this project from her and the other new SEGs on the city council earned Troy national criticism from liberal icon Keith Olbermann and the Atlantic magazine.
New Acronyms to Save Space
SEG people favor Smaller Efficient Government, while BIG people favor Bigger Government. Government is invariably less efficient than the private sector since it doesn’t have to make a profit, so it could be called Bigger Inefficient Government. Neither point of view is inherently better; both are valid opinions and governing philosophies.
Both viewpoints are pro-growth, but SEG people favor private sector growth which funds the government employees who serve us so well. BIG people favor public sector growth. It’s no surprise that public sector unions and other government workers are the strongest supporters of leaders with BIG government viewpoints.
Another reason for the new acronyms is that most people like to be called conservatives, especially during election season. Few are proud of being called a liberal except people like Robert Reich and Alan Colmes, whose recent book explaining the liberal point of view got praise across the entire political spectrum. SEGs disagree with most of his conclusions (conservatives want to move forward, too!), but they liked the book.
Tone and Content of the Article
The tone of the Troy Times article put a successful recall in a favorable light and featured only interviews with recall supporters and government employees. The only attempt to give Mayor Daniels a say was a negative reference: “Daniels could not be reached for comment by press time.” The only neutral part was at the end where both web sites were given.
Terry Oparka does a good job of writing many articles each week about Troy news, but she missed the mark on having a balanced article this time. The power of the pen should be wielded more carefully, especially on sensitive topics like this with an important election depending on neutral information from the press.
Troy Times bias continues
The same issue had a Second Front Page article at the top of page 3 with a bold headline “Highland Park resident sues Troy City Council over city manager deliberation.” Readers had to turn to page 9 to find out that this AFSCME labor negotiator was indicted on federal charges for misappropriating over $400,000 from the school district for his personal use and could face ten years in prison.
Although a small sub-headline read “Council unanimously approves contract for new city manager,” at first glance the article makes it look like our city is mismanaged when in fact the whole council had the closed door meeting.
On page 9, City Attorney Lori Bluhm said she believes the closed door meeting was allowed by a clause in the Open Meetings Act that allows councils to consider applications for public office in closed session if the applicants request confidentiality.
The lawsuit will probably be dismissed; probably neither that nor the outcome of Robert Davis’ felony case will make headlines. For sure they will both be after the November special election for Mayor Daniels.
Delay in printing letter
The editor “will consider all the letters on the mayoral recall closer to the election.” By waiting a few weeks the editor is preventing a timely response to a biased article and may not print my letter at all.
With the above as explanation, here is my letter to the editor:
Mayoral Recall a Referendum on American Democracy
The headline “Successful mayoral recall would not prompt special election” and content of the September 20 Troy Times article misled readers, making it sound like it would be a positive development and no big deal for the city council to handle.
The November ballot question IS the special election. Our mayor must defend her seat three years early against an unknown opponent. Instead of promoting their own candidate, Mayor Daniels’ opponents have criticized her relentlessly. A successful recall will dump the task of picking her replacement on a divided city council.
City business will grind to a halt for at least a month while partisan divisions in the council surface as they decide on a new process to appoint her replacement. If a member resigns to run for mayor, they must agree not only on that person but on a new tie-breaking council member.
Troy’s council has functioned well recently despite its 4-3 tilt in philosophy. Many decisions have been unanimous or with wide margins. Removing one who favors Smaller Efficient Government will leave a tie, since the others favor Bigger Government. Asking SEGs and BIGs to quickly agree on the city’s spokesperson and tie-breaking replacement council member would require a Christmas miracle.
Sincere people are angry with Mayor Daniels since her upset win over her BIG opponent, circulating a misleading petition for her removal. They can’t stand other points of view besides their own in city leadership.
Even more than a special election, this is a referendum on American democracy. Unlike parliamentary governments, regular elections with fixed terms are a hallmark of American democracy. People should vote no on the recall even if they oppose some or all of the mayor’s policies. This attacks our system of government as well as Mayor Daniels.