Editor's note: The following is Dale Murrish's public comment given during the Feb. 20 Troy City Council meeting.
Mayor Daniels’ First Amendment Rights
Good evening. Tonight I’m speaking on behalf of the first amendment rights of an elected public official. Since she took office in November, she has been mercilessly attacked by her political opponents because she has different views. Her opponents preach tolerance but they are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them. She’s kept her campaign promises and behaved admirably under fire, displaying gracious professionalism at one of the lowest paid jobs in Troy.
This “non-partisan” council is highly partisan, subtly from council members and viciously from some trying to nullify the last election. The mayor was elected by a majority of those who bothered to vote – the city clerk considered it a good turnout.
Recalls are for crimes or gross misconduct in office, not for embarrassing the city in liberal circles. The reasons for recalling our mayor boil down to two: her opposition to the transit center and using words that offend a certain group of people.
She campaigned on her opposition to the transit center and the debt we’re passing to the next generation. Supporters had ten years into planning it, and she’s criticized for allowing a patent attorney an hour to share his ideas. He presented lots of good data about the high subsidies for mass transit and trains in particular. His crime concerns were legitimate and could be interpreted by some as racist. However, there have been muggings on the Paint Creek Trail in Rochester, hardly an area known for minorities. Any deserted area is a risk for people traveling alone, especially women.
People alter their habits based on fear, regardless of crime statistics. No wonder the shopping center is concerned about a 24 hour bus station with no one around all weekend when no buses are running. And the elevators and stairs by the lonely footbridge that serves 6 trains and 66 people a day? Meanwhile, residents are told they have to accept lower police services but this won’t cost the city any extra patrol time.
Our mayor has apologized for her poor choice of words in June, before she was elected, and asked for forgiveness. If you have a strong stomach and can wade through the venomous comments on the Troy Patch, you can find her actual written apology and videotape pieced together from the exchange. The last part is obviously from later, after her apology was refused.
Her recent comments about those who choose a gay lifestyle are inconveniently true (statistics don’t lie – on average, it is more dangerous), regardless of what is currently politically correct. She respects all people regardless of their sexual orientation; why do people disrespect her? People are choosing to be offended by what was said, and sometimes the filters on their ears amplify certain things and ignore others.
Public comment at meetings is no longer limited to 3 minutes if more than 15 people sign up. The library is again open on Saturday, the busiest day, city wages and benefits are posted on line, and she answers emails. That's four promises kept - not bad for a first few months in office.
Her word choice in June proves she's inexperienced, but it doesn't prove she's a bigot. This firestorm of hate speech is very upsetting, and it’s not just from out of town activists or anonymous bloggers; it’s from adults who live here who should know better.
She’s been publicly criticized by a former mayor for changing the oath; when she explained that the city charter is covered under the Michigan Constitution there was no public apology. Mayor Daniels also explained the “whimsical” document comment, which made sense to me but not her opponents.
Brooks Patterson is a crusty dutch oven calling a teapot black. He is doing the same thing to Mayor Daniels that she did to the city manager, only worse, because he knows better, having many years of experience in government. Mr. Szerlag has already defended himself quite well (8 pages to her 5); many others have risen to his defense.
A sitting county executive rebuking a first term mayor while claiming to defend the honor of a public servant is the height of hypocrisy. Patterson's disdain for social conservatives is well known. Instead of viewing them as valued coalition partners, his big tent theory would like to be rid of them, leaving only country club Republicans. He doesn't realize they are the foot soldiers that help him win elections.
Patterson knows exactly what he's doing. He's throwing Daniels under the bus, giving fuel to her recall campaign. Some liberals in Troy are no better. They are criticizing her for her actions and doing worse themselves, yet are blind to it.
Anything she does is heard through their “I hate Daniels” filter, including her personal endorsement of Rick Santorum last Friday. At least that’s the way I interpreted her offering him the keys to the city. The polite applause and cheers were a welcome change from the way she’s treated by her opponents, who are twisting her comment about the budget woes into insulting our city. Most people heard that as times are tough everywhere and appreciated her sincere question about the health of his handicapped daughter. It also gave him a chance to tell how a parent of a special needs child feels to have the government making choices for him. Governor Snyder endorsed Romney; why can’t Mayor Daniels endorse Santorum?
Mayor Daniels and the conservative majority were elected because people were tired of having their money wasted. People should wait until the next election to vote her out if they don't like the job she's doing, not mount a recall. They have the right to do that, but now the mayor’s supporters will be forced to encourage people not to sign the petition and to get out the vote if they gather enough signatures. This wastes more time and money.
America was founded on the principle of representative government and regular elections. This is typical of liberals when they don’t get their way: they use bureaucratic edicts, like Obama is doing now, liberal activist judges, or they recall elected officials for keeping their campaign promises, like the Wisconsin and Michigan governors.
This is Troy, Michigan, 2012, not Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. It’s time to end this modern witch hunt and get on with the city’s business. Thank you.