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State Attorney General to Troy: Call Election or We'll Take You to Court

Richard Bandstra, chief legal counsel for State Attorney General Bill Schuette, responds to the City's Tuesday letter refuting the need for a February election to replace recalled mayor Janice Daniels.

The chief legal counsel for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has told Troy: Either order a special election on Feb. 26, 2013, or face litigation.

Troy leaders, however, continue to fight with the state for the ability to hold off on electing a new mayor until November of next year.

"After careful review of the provisions of Michigan's Election Law and the City of Troy Charter, it is the position of this office that a special election should have been called for February 2013 to fill the remainder of the unexpired term following the recent successfull recall of former Mayor Janice Daniels," Schuette's Chief Legal Counsel Richard Bandstra wrote.

In the two-page letter from Bandstra to Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm and other city administrators, Bandstra gave city administrators until 1 p.m. this Friday to respond.

"In the event that this office does not receive a favorable response," he wrote, "this office will be compelled to initiate litigation."

But Bluhm said the Attorney General's office has misinterpreted her argument and defense of Troy's City Charter, which she maintains allows the city to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until next November.

"I will make every effort to avoid a lawsuit, and therefore I plan to respond to the letter by the designated time," Bluhm said Thursday evening. "Unfortunately, the letter misinterprets the City’s legal argument.

"The City is not claiming that our Charter trumps state law. Instead, since there are two conflicting State Statutes, the City is obligated to follow the path that allows us to uphold both state law and our charter."

To read the letter from Bandstra to Bluhm – as well as previous correspondence between the city and the state – please see the attached PDF files.

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Peoplearenuts November 30, 2012 at 02:19 PM
How about Snyder appointing an emergency mayor? Save us the cost of the lawsuit, election, etc. The last I knew from civics class, state law trumps city law. Just get this over with and get on with city business. This whole thing is just nuts.
Tom Baker November 30, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The folks currently in charge don't want an election. They just overthrew the dictator and want to spend money on Depot's. We just finally got rid of Szerlag and Schilling and now we have the spenders back in power!
Chris P. November 30, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Funny how so many are quick to be all doubtful about legitimate, well educated, trained city employees. But it often turns out it's the political hacks making money off the taxpayers that are the crux of the problem. Food for thought: http://www.keeptroystrong.com/2012/11/so-naive.html#comment-form
Ellen Hodorek November 30, 2012 at 03:24 PM
As a former part time employee in the City (I worked in the private sector before for years and do so again now), I am stunned and appalled at how Concerned Troy Citizens, the TCU, etc., purposely create a drumbeat to cause residents to doubt our employee's talents, advice and efforts to SERVE us with excellence. Fellow residents: please stop and think who you are trusting and who you are not trusting. Many of our employees not only work here, they also live here. Volunteer here. Are raising their kids here. Pay property taxes here. They care deeply about the city, the city infrastructure, it's reputation, and the safety of its residents. Their kids are in school and on soccer teams, marching bands, etc., with everyone else's kids. When employees, former employees, and relatives of employees speak up to express concern, they actually really know what they're talking about. And, understand this, they are not politically motivated. But they are deeply informed and truly understand the issues, the opportunities and the harm of career politicians practicing hyper partisan politics where it has no business being practiced. That's the behavior that's hurting Troy's reputation and wasting our tax dollars. And that's exactly the behavior being thrust upon us all right now. I trust our City Attorney completely as well as Mayor Slater, Councilwoman McGinnis, and Councilman Campbell. They're wise, pragmatic and experienced in these matters and worthy of trust.
ann galen November 30, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Getting sued by the State of Michigan, having a recall and not knowing what a recall would do, a Transit Center to nowhere that nobody is ever going to use, closing the library on Saturdays the day when most citizens need it, suing Hooters and other businesses to stay out of Troy , a million dollar red brick sidewalk to a park nobody uses, a solar house that cannot heat itself and which nobody can use, millions of dollars spent on the Downtown Development Authority and nobody even knows where "downtown Troy" is, and a dozen others is what makes the City of Troy the shame of Michigan. What a bunch of clowns! Ditto for the people who elected the clowns.
Tom Baker November 30, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Chris, with all do respect, there are two aspects to society. The public sector and the private sector. When you use terms like well educated, trained city employees the private sector questions that because the public sector can't move without legal opinions. Every nuance practically of public management needs legal opinion because of the dangers politically of making a bad mistake. This is why there are checks and balances. The American dream is not set up to go work for government. It is set up to take risk. When government takes risk like the $1 billion the EPA lost on RE projects they end up looking bad. So the private sector which is by far the majority tend to not trust public employees with their financial decisions which is why Troy's Economic development bond status is in Junk Bond territory.
Really November 30, 2012 at 04:48 PM
It was always going to end up in court. It's also apparent that this issue is political gamesmenship (and initiated by the Gosselin/Clark group). There is not a City employee involved in that. The City employees are trying to interpret the law for the citizens. There is no political motivation for the City Attorney nor Clerk to do anything but their jobs. The Attorney and Clerk work for the Council. They are doing their jobs very well. As for Ms. Galen, her outstate views of Troy have been disproved multiple times.
Wiley Coyote November 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Ann, for the love of god, stay out of it.
Tom Baker November 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The real question is why would it end up in court? Why wouldn't the City Council immediately let the voters choose a new Mayor? Why would anyone want to prevent the voters from representation?
Really November 30, 2012 at 06:55 PM
It was going to end up in court because of the conflict between the Statute and the Charter, which the City Attorney has specified. The City can't follow the Statute and not be in violation of several other Charter provisions. These provisions are not being taken into account by the State at this point, and they must be addressed. If the AG had agreed, case closed. As of right now, the AG doesn't agree. The City Attorney is left with no choice but to defend the Charter. There is no intent to prevent the voters from choosing representation, it's just a question of when.
cookiepro2 November 30, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Tom I'm all for voter representation. But in this case, I think too big of a deal is being made out of this. I'm tired of elections and quite willing to wait eight months until November, especially if it will save the city $50,000 in a special election. Nothing earth-shattering will happen with Dane Slater as temporary stand-in Mayor for eight monrths, and he was after all elected to council so it's not like they got somebody unelected in there. Also before the recall election, the voters expected there not to be a special election if the recall passed, it would be in November....why wasn't any complaint made at that time, about lack of voter representation in the intervening months? I really think the State should let us alone and let us continue about our business, the important thing for the city council NOW is to focus on filling the empty council seat which will not be selected by the voters, and impacts decisions made. Oh, but wait the State is now throwing a monkey wrench in that with their lawsuit about the Mayor election. I have no idea what the heck is going to happen with that empty council seat now. Obviously, State and City charter do not mesh regarding recall and vacncy filling, but the State should not make Troy a working example in progress of how it should be done. Gio back to the legislature, do it properly, plan, cogitate, and take some time about it.
Sue Martin November 30, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I get that city employees working on this...and state employees working on this...are merely earning their salaries. My greater point is that it seems ridiculous to put THIS much effort into THIS issue months after our city attorney very publicly stated the intentions of the city...without ANY push-back. No one balked for months that we WERE NOT going to waste tax dollars on a special early election. Now all of a sudden, known fiscal conservatives are begging for one. Doesn't add up.
Total Health November 30, 2012 at 09:34 PM
If our City Atty would have researched and asked the opinion of the AG a long time ago, she would have had her answer, but we all know that did not happen. It was her responsibility to cross all T's and dot all I's to make sure the city was conducting the recall correctly, which included calling the county AND state for assistance. From what I am gathering, they did NOT want to get the AG's opinion because then its binding.
cookiepro2 November 30, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Total Health, The City Attorney and City Clerk went throught the usual channels in vetting the election date with the Oakland County Clerk's Election Division, who would be the next level up in government. I don't think it was called for to get an opinion from the AG back in September, he probably would have blown it off. Who else should she have consulted, the Governor, the US Attorney General, the President? I find it troubling that NOW the Oakland County Clerk's office is not supporting our city's position, maybe they didn't do their job back then, or are quietly walking away from their responsiblity and their earlier stance due to political pressure?
Larry Fuller December 01, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Brown Noser!
Larry Fuller December 01, 2012 at 01:03 AM
You really need to consider the mistakes made here by our City Attorney, she has egg on her face on this one! Let's face it, the email was there she admitted at the City Council meeting, yet she deceived to know the contents, ohhhh pleeezzzzzeee! It seems like she is trying to cover her tracks here and concoct a story that sounds somewhat innocent and believable. When the pay the huge salary to an attorney, don't you expect the best advice, research, and knowledge? Think about it.
Larry Fuller December 01, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Ann is right though! Wasted spending sprees.......the million dollar 'yellow brick road' which nobody walks on.....so true!
dell December 01, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Total waste of tax payer dollars. When will it end. I posted long ago this was going to end up costing us 100-150k by recalling Janis. I would tell you to look at my comments under the recall Janis Facebook page, but they long ago deleted my posts and blocked me from posting civil common sense comments on their page. Talk about suppressing free speech. I also read last week the so called high speed rail to Chicago (you know, the one the troy rail system was going to connect to) has been nixed by the federal department transportation. No federal money for high speed rail system. How can some of you say your motives are in the best interest of Troy? The motives behind this recall were purely political posturing for self interest. This recall accomplished nothing and will cost us all plenty.
cookiepro2 December 01, 2012 at 02:19 AM
dell, I wish you had posted your predictions here, they would not have been deleted. At any rate, I agree with you that a special election is pointless and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Little would I have known that the SoS and the Attorney General would join the ranks of Robert Davis and sue us on an arguable point of principle that does nothing to serve Troy now. I will certainly remember their actions if they decide to continue their political aspirations after their terms expire.
Anonymous December 01, 2012 at 06:22 AM
@Lynn H. I realize the city clerk couldn't accept the applications because at that time an election didn't exist, but she didn't have to lie being on the phone, because you could clearly see on the video she was staring at a computer screen waiting for 4:01pm to take the pressure off of her and then proceed to the counter. The retired Troy city employees who are residents are concerned about their pensions. Why did Szerlag and Lamerato leave? They know the city, like other major cities in the country, cannot afford to pay pensions and health care for public sector retiree without eventually running out of money. Regarding your partisan comment, how many public sector employees vote Democrat through their unions..i.e. 100%, to protect their extravagant retirement taxpayer funded retirement packages.
Chris P. December 01, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Anonymous: As a Republican and business woman I have to wonder at so many assumptions you are making here. But, what the heck! I'll play. In the video we see the source of all that divides Troy, Oakland County Commissioner Bob Gosselin, leading a crew including two men who, I'm sorry, who do not look anything like the type of person I want to serve as ceremonial mayor of Troy. Gosselin is paid some $30,000 a year in his elected post; this is on top of the salary he earns at an automaker. (I believe GM.) He doesn't pay his property taxes on time (he waits till he's up for election), has been arrested for soliciting a prostitute, & bleeds fund balances. He's on the phone with Rusty Hills, the Director of Communication for the AG's office, who seems happy to play along. Could there be connections between Bob, Rusty, Ruth Johnson (who has failed Troy miserably in the past), and Bill Bullard the Oakland County Clerk? Could be, since Councilman Doug Tietz works for Bullard, as a communications type guy. Maybe Doug and Rusy are buddies? Maybe Doug, a Tea Party guy, asked Rusty if he could happen to be on hand for a phone call and play act when Bob Gosselin called in? Given these assumptions, I think the City Clerk performed her duties perfectly. As a fiscal conservative who is happy to see our Clerk and City Attorney uphold our City Charter, I'm thinking they are earning every penny we are paying them. Can't say the same for Bob, Doug, Rusty, Ruth, etc.
Total Health December 01, 2012 at 04:06 PM
As I have said before, the city Atty did NOT do her due diligence and research, or maybe she just didn't think of it but she strikes me as a very bright and competent woman.... If she would have contact the Ag office BEFORE the recall and asked them, she would have been told she needed a Feb election... I'm not an atty, but it seemed pretty cut and dry.. Next election means February!!
cookiepro2 December 01, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I doubt the AG would have made the time to do the research, elections not being his direct responsiblity. He probably would have directed her to the Oakland County Elections Division, which our city clerk did. Perhaps in court, our clerk will have documentation that will back up contact and show either outright or tacit approval from that body. I find it interesting that the suit specifies that in the remedy action that SoS wants Troy to take, we are to hold the February election and follow the mandates of BOTH the State laws AND our City Charter in doing so. That's impossible without amending our charter as far as adequate public notifications in the newspaper, and giving applicants time to gather petition signatures. When was the last time Troy had a regular election in February?
cookiepro2 December 01, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Total Health, Here are comments from Dave Henderson on the Recall, if successful scenario, that was fleshed out over this past year: "I was happy with the process that was laid before us by the city attorney. I had become comfortable with it this summer as we began to ask all the what if questions regarding the recall. The process was reviewed by Oakland county, which is a typical procedure regarding elections. It was stated that although we reviewed our city charter as it overlaid the state election laws, we didn’t consult with the SoS in the process as this was not typically required in election scenarios". I see the words "typical" used in the above. What I think is ATYPICAL is the sudden attention that the SoS is giving the matter, and the AG's involvement in setting up the scenario for the suit (i.e., have Kempen and Brake go to the city clerk's office).
Chris P. December 01, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Cookiepro2, help me out here: the Kempen and Brake charade is part of the suit? I haven't had time to read everything.
cookiepro2 December 01, 2012 at 11:45 PM
http://troy.patch.com/articles/secretary-of-state-sues-troy-says-state-law-requires-an-election#pdf-12413339 Scroll to page 11 of the above PDF. It is in the section titled "Count III Declaring Judgmental and Permanent Injunction".
cookiepro2 December 01, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Correction, it is titled "Declaratory Judgement and Permanent Injunction". It is item #45. Later under Prayer for Relief, one of the items is to accept their applications.
ann galen December 06, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Wiley Coyote, as usual and typical, your comment is totally void of any substance and contributes nothing to this discussion.
Larry Fuller January 04, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Let's recall the City Attorney and get someone who gives a damn in there! She is simply wasting hundreds of thousands of the tax dollars, and when asked ANY question during a city council meeting, she stumbles and answers....duh....yea I guess so...maybe, but kinda sorta, well I guess, sure, think so, wait, but really. We deserve better! Watch the next Monday Night council meeting and her response, you will see what I mean.
mark otto January 04, 2013 at 06:07 AM
Larry you are an idiot.

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