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Troy City Council Calls Special Meeting on Mayoral Replacement Procedure

Council will meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Troy City Hall.

Troy City Council will meet this Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the council boardroom at Troy City Hall to review and discuss "the conflicting requirements of the Troy Charter and State Election Law regarding the appointment of a replacement of the Mayor position and the process to fill that position's remaining term (until November 2015)."

The purpose of the meeting is also "to discuss and determine whether an alternate course of action needs to be pursued."

In a letter sent Friday to Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm, state Director of Elections Christopher Thomas writes: "It is the position of the Bureau of Elections that the City is required to conduct a special election to fill the vacancy on Feb. 26, 2013."

However, Attorney Bluhm said having a special election so soon would violate City Charter, which requires potential candidates to file a petition signed by at least 60 registered electors of the City "on or before 4 o’clock p.m. of the one hundredth (100th) day preceding the next election," according to the Charter.

“We are not comfortable having a February election because that would require us to violate some of our charter provisions," Bluhm said. "It's not enough notice."

The meeting was called at the request of councilmen Wade Fleming and Dave Henderson.

On Nov. 12, council chose Acting Mayor Dane Slater to serve as mayor until the Nov. 5, 2013, city election after Janice Daniels was recalled Nov. 6. Councilwoman Maureen McGinnis and Councilman Wade Fleming also expressed interest in the position.

Council has not yet voted on the resolution to officially appoint Slater mayor for the next year, though the city is currently accepting applications for the open city council seat that would be left vacant by Slater.

Editor's Note: The third and fourth paragraphs were added Monday night.

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John David November 20, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Mark, Dave and Irv, Dave Henderson and Wade Fleming are doing the right thing calling for the meeting. As far as the city attorney goes, regulations and laws are not perfectly written, and are open to interpretation. Ms Bluhm probably has a basis for her position. It is far from unusual for a different level of government to disagree with another level's legal determinations, or different arms of a government doing the same. At this point I don't see anything to show Bluhm has been involved in any wrongdoing or is responsible for the situation, anymore than the city council. Perhaps the council, or public, should have asked more questions. From memory, I think it was Campbell who asked about the procedures after recall, twice. I don't remember if other council members challenged Bluhm's findings. The recall was no secret in the state, but if the SOS office had superior information, why did they wait to provide it? And, is it possible that their legal interpretation is wrong? So, no one should be making accusations without facts. No one should be resorting to name calling. My expectations are that the council and city attorney will focus on facts and ensure a proper way forward on this. Once the whole procedure is over, the charter needs to be reviewed and revised to provide better procedures in the future for replacement of the mayor or other council members, whether they depart before the end of their term due to personal reasons, recall, illness or death.
Jeff November 20, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Seriously, everyone please calm down. You'd think some of these comments were from middle schoolers! There's really no need for jumping to conclusions, finger pointing or name calling. Nice role models, don't you think? We're trying to work through some unchartered waters following the recall. Sure, it's confusing. I'm sure City Attorney Bluhm will get it all figured out and we'll move forward. Breathe....it's Thanksgiving :)
CC November 20, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Well said. I was disappointed that we don't have a clear path forward just yet, but we have to just pump the brakes a little and not jump to conclusions.
Victor November 20, 2012 at 06:43 PM
State Law concerning recalls applies in this case to fill the mayor's position. That is what the city charter says when you actually read it. Read about it at vicsview.wordpress.com. I go through the city charter verbage and when you read it you will see that city staff miss applied the city charter. Makes you wonder if this was intentional???
CC November 20, 2012 at 06:55 PM
I think it is completely appropriate to have the meeting tomorrow, in light of the letter being sent. I have no idea of the timing or motivation for the letter, but it really doesn't matter at this point. The council may choose to take may choose to take action on this letter of legal opinion (and it is just an opinion at this point) or just stand pat...but they definitely should make a conscious and deliberate decision one way or the other. Tomorrow will be an opportunity to hear more from Ms. Bluhm to get her response to the letter and give background on how she came to her legal opinion. She may, in fact, have some very good and legitimate reasons for her legal opinion on how the city handles the recall aftermath. I sincerely hope that is the case. Waiting on this actually could have made things even more messy. Remember that in order for Slater to be appointed Mayor, he would have to first submit his recognition from the council. I would hate to have him submit his resignation and then find out that his term as Mayor was invalidated. Not sure if that is how that would shake out, but I certainly don't want to see him lost from council. Let's just wait and see how everything shakes out before we draw any conclusions. Two weeks ago, most of us were extending our vote of confidence in the remaining 6 council members to move us forward. I fully expect them to do so, and I will be watching closely to make sure they do.
Jeff S. November 20, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Victor, I actually read the City Charter. Section 7.17 states that "A vacancy created by such recall shall be filled in the manner prescribed in this charter and by statute." So, a vacancy is to be filled in the manner prescribed by the CHARTER and by the STATUTE. Doesn't make perfect sense, but it does say the Charter is to be used. I respectfully suggest that the Charter is to be used before the Statute. Section 6.2 of the Charter describes how to fill a vacancy in an office, which is what we have after the recall of Daniels. And this procedure is what the City Attorney is advocating. Which makes perfect sense to me. So what do you think is "intentional"? You think the City Attorney is trying to pull some fast one? Do you think she is corrupt? What are you getting at?
Larry Fuller November 20, 2012 at 08:27 PM
The City Attorney is at fault for this whole fiasco, she did not investigate anything prior to the recall. She repeatedly insisted at many council meetings that it would be up to the existing council to 'immediately step in and replace the mayor, or, the Governor would do it' I have it on my DVR and there was never any mention of an election. We need to RECALL Blumn for her continuing grave and tragic errors which now will cost the City of Troy between $75,000-$90,000 in special election costs! Wade Fleming would be a fine mayor for our City, he is respectful, honest, and really cares for our community! As far as the rest of them, I am not a fan of any of them.
CC November 20, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Geez, Larry. You can't wait just one more day to hear what the City Attorney has to say before calling for her head? You have no idea how much or how little she investigated the matter. Remember that the letter is not a legal judgement, it is a legal opinion.
Victor November 20, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Jeff, If you read section 6.2 you will note that none of the reasons apply to this vacancy. Only if and only if the vacancy is created by a reason specified in 6.2 does the process cited by city staff [section 6.7] to be used. Since none of the reasons apply, the process cited in the charter can not be used. That defaults to the state statute. Legally, because of the verbiage used in the state statute, Michigan courts, including the Michigan Supreme court as recently as August 2012 in Stand Up For Democracy vs Secretary of State et. al. make it mandatory to follow the state statute. As far as your last comment concerning the city attorney, NO she is not corrupt although I am beginning to question her ability. Go read my other blog liarsandlawbreakers.wordpress.com and you decide.
The Duke of Royal Oak November 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Wow!!! Keep evil in power because of the cost. SHOCKING!
John November 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Hey Vic, You a lawyer? Nope? Then leave the legal expertise to people who have a bar card.
Victor November 21, 2012 at 12:39 AM
John, You don't have to have a Bar Card in order to read what the law says. The problem is when people just assume the city attorney is always right. Well you know how to spell assume. John, let's see who is right in this case when it is finalized. I'll be waiting for your apology but won't hold my breath.
Dave Henderson November 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM
John I'd love to make that promise... I have no more control over public comments that happen today than the ones the Mayor took all year long. Again, when you force a recall, and the vote is this closely divided, I think it's silly to think anything other than this result would have occurred. But I can tell you, when the SoS sends a letter telling me that our process is illegal... I'm not going to sit by and wait for the law suit. I was happy with the way we were moving, the state is not... so we have a meeting today to discuss who is right and what the game plan moving forward will be. Honestly public comments mean nothing to me when they turn ugly toward an individual, and if that happens, I'll support the city attorney in the exact same fashion I supported the Mayor. Let the people air their grievances, and then do the right thing.
Cathy Fucinari November 21, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Are you an attorney?
Cathy Fucinari November 21, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Blum is not an elected official. Hence, recall is not the method of dismissal. Wade is too partisan, and has contributed far too much divisiveness to this community. Any person who puts partisan or self-interest before the community would not be a good choice to move this community forward.
Really November 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
It is far too early for all of this nonsense concerning competancy. In point of fact, both the City Clerk and City Attorney were responsible for the investigation. The Oakland County Clerk was also contacted as part of the due diligence. Whether or not the Secretary of State was contacted is moot. It's also a fallacy to assume the SoS had no knoledge of this issue until after the election which makes the timing of the appeal to the SoS suspect. The Charter has muddied guidelines, but it is listed first. The cost of a special election is no where near $75 - 90,000. Those are 3 to 5 year old numbers. The whole process has been streamlined, with far more electronics and volunteers used. Everyone needs to calm down, and let this issue play out between the experts, or the courts, if need be.
Anonymous November 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
What a joke. So did the mayoral recall make things better for Troy? Again Troy looks just as ridiculous to the media as it did when Janice Daniels was mayor. When will the residents realize that city employees and city politicians cannot be trusted when it comes to what's best for the residents? City workers and city politicians only care for their own well being and their pensions that that will cause Troy to go bankrupt!
Really November 21, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Seriously, Anonymous, what a sad, uninformed posting. Only 20% of Troy employees have pensions, and 80% of them are Police Officers. This is such old and unfounded nonsense that it bears no merit. The Coundil make $175 a month, boy are they ruining us with that. Cannot be trusted, that would be uninformed voters, certainly not the politicians and employees. Things are better now, you need only look at the last Council meeting for proof, far less controvery and rancor. Please stay on topic, or write an opinion piece of your own.
Jeff S. November 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I did a little research on the Internet and noticed that there was a recall of a Tekonsha Village trustee at the February 12, 2012 election. (http://www.co.calhoun.mi.us/election.taf) Was Tekonsha Village forced to elect a new trustee at the May 8 election, the next scheduled election? Nope. Was Tekonsha Village forced to elect a new trustee at the August 7 election? Nope. They waited until the November election, just like they plan to do in Troy. Did Tekonsha Village get a letter from the Secretary of State advising them to hold an election? Probably not. So what prompted the letter to Troy?
cookiepro2 November 21, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Thanks, Jeff S., for the research. I had been wondering about any precedences since that seems to be what the outcome of legal cases rest on. I think our last special election (for the library millage) was around $30K. Still don't want to spend that or any amount based on what might be the whim of the SoS's legal interpretation especially when the citizens of Troy have accepted the charter's interpretation. If our attorney did check with Oakland County City Clerk, Bill Bullard and got the go ahead, he should be weighing in on this too.
cookiepro2 November 21, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Our current Secretary of State is not without controversy: http://www.freep.com/article/20121004/NEWS15/310040206/Secretary-of-State-Ruth-Johnson-ordered-to-appear-in-court-for-hearing-in-voting-case Yikes! .... applying laws that do not exist yet (ordering citizen check boxes on voter applications) in spite of the inconvenience and cost to the local municipalities in scrapping or blacking out boxes on said voter applications.
Anonymous November 21, 2012 at 07:08 PM
To Really, I don't believe my post is uninformed. The current mayor, Dane Slater, is a retired Troy Police Chief so, he's getting nearly between 80-90% of his salary as his pension. I think he's making sure that his pension and those for his counterparts are protected despite what the residents think is more important for the city. Times have changed and it's not going to be feasible to continue to pay those types of pensions to whatever number of city employees are receiving them for the rest of their lives. Let's not forget the number of city employees from DPW and City Hall that have retired, are collecting their city pensions and are hired back to work for the city collecting a paycheck, too. Very unfair.
Stacy November 21, 2012 at 08:21 PM
So, what was the outcome?
Really November 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Anonymous, first and most important, Mr. Slater does not have a pension from the City. He had a 401 derivitive. Secondly, no Police personel can receive more than 75% under the Defined Benefit rules, no matter how many years they work. Third, the defined benefit fund is virtually 100% funded, and no new menbers are allowed, so no long term legacy costs.. Third, City employees also contributed to the Defined Benefit Plan, so much of that money is theirs. Fourth, only 3 people are retired and now back as 32 hour per week contractors, and 2 of them are leaving in December (mostly because no qualified applicants apply for the positions at the reduced wages the City now offers). So I stick to my statement, it is a sad and uninformed post. Most of this nonsense was dismissed 3 years ago.
cookiepro2 November 21, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Don't know Stacy, but it looks like it was live-streamed and is available for playback on the city's website like any other regular meeting. I only had time to see the first couple minutes and apparently there are a large number of public commenters with their opinions, oh boy!
Sharon November 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
This is a fake issue to get you to write what you wrote above. The only people going out of their way to have an expensive special election are Bob Gosselin, Dan Brake, Dane Fleming, Dave henderson and all the other allegedly "fiscally responsible" lovers of small government. Ha!
Sharon November 21, 2012 at 10:18 PM
This is the old canard JD and her buds were peddling 2 years ago. It wasn't true then and it's not true now. Maybe you could check the facts?
Sharon November 21, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Fleming put forward a resolution to have the attorney general offer a binding opinion to decide Troy's fate. Of course, attorney's general can't do that. I was hoping one of our fiscal conservative, small government councilmen would say, 'Hey, that doesn't make sense!" But they voted yes and the other three voted no and so the resolution failed. But that didn't stop friends of Janice Daniels Dan Brake, Bob Gosselin, Glenn Clark and the rest to stage a "press conference" about city malfeasance. Just like always. Only difference now is that instead of gunning for Szerlag they're gunning for Lori Bluhm. Oh, and of course the goal is to attempt to make the recall vote look illegitimate. It's a whole lotta no story here, folks!
Sharon November 21, 2012 at 10:42 PM
By the way, the Oakland County Clerk's office also agreed with Bluhm on the election for mayor. And if someone is to blame...how about the SOS for giving their opinion weeks after the election and after the deadline to get a February election in motion. Duh!
Anonymous November 22, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Add health care benefits and the retiree pension is between 80-90% of their pay. The ads I've seen posted for open city positions are certainly not at reduced salary ranges; that's just what the HR Director wants the residents to believe.

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