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Troy Council Votes Not to Seek Advice of State Attorney General On Mayoral Replacement Procedure

Motion asking for help regarding conflict between Troy Charter and State Election law fails in 3-3 vote.

The Troy City Council met Wednesday afternoon 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 special meeting was called in response to a letter Troy City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm received last week from state Director of Elections Christopher Thomas, which 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."

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."

Wednesday’s special meeting was called at the request of councilmen Dave Henderson and Wade Fleming. 

Fleming prepared the following resolution for council, that was ultimately denied after a deadlocked 3-3 vote:  “That Troy City Council hereby directs our City Attorney to contact the State Attorney General on Monday, November 26, 2012 regarding the (subject) November 16, 2012 letter from Christopher M. Thomas and seek the legal opinion of and direction from the Attorney General on this matter as soon as possible which this Council would accept as final and binding.” 

Fleming, Henderson, and Councilman Doug Tietz voted in favor of seeking the advice of the State Attorney General, each interested in hearing the state’s opinion in determining the best way to handle the election. 

However, Mayor Dane Slater, as well as council members Jim Campbell and Maureen McGinnis voted against the resolution. They said they voted based on advice from Bluhm, who said that upholding the Troy Charter is paramount. 

Bluhm and City Clerk Aileen Bittner consulted with the Oakland County Elections Division. Bittner said that under the law only the Oakland County Clerk or a circuit court judge could call an election and as of this date, the County clerk has not called an election for February. 

“I don’t really understand how we came to the conclusion that this is the best way to go. This is between our charter and our state law. There are multiple areas. I’m not sure why we would ask the state to weigh in and give us their opinion,” McGinnis said. 

Fleming said he’s concerned state law may trump the City Charter and that seeking the opinion of the Attorney General is the best idea at this point.

After the vote, a number of citizens voiced their discontent for council’s decision, saying they should have sought advice from the state. 

Likewise, an organized group of Troy citizens gathered outside City Hall after the meeting for a press conference where they stated that their plans to once again ask the city consider advice from the Attorney General.

“Troy is not going to step outside of the boundaries of our law that the people’s representatives passed; and that’s what seems to have happened here. For the city attorney to move forward in this reckless way certainly uncalled for,” said resident Glenn Clark, a former Oakland County Commissioner. “Having said that, we are calling on the city attorney and the city administration to contact the Attorney General’s office and try to find a resolution for this and demand to find a rule of law.” 

S.L. Gross November 22, 2012 at 09:02 AM
Jack, how is any of this against the law? Look at the city charter, section 6.3. It clearly says that if an office is vacant, in this case the mayor, then council shall appoint a new mayor which will serve until the next November's election. It IS the law in our city.
Randy Husk November 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Talk about puppets......who is pulling the strings of Henderson, Tietz and Fleming...how fast can you say Bob Gooselin.....oops...Gosselin....the Master Puppeteer has had so many run-ins with the law I am shocked that he could even be elected as dog catcher...ask him about his arrest for felonious assault a few years ago, his arrests for soliciting and his arrests for flashing.....how any of you can support such an individual is beyond me and now he has his 3 puppets on the City Council.
Brian Matico November 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM
If Dale is for it that's all I need to know that the right decision was made.
Irv Wengrow November 22, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Just got caught up after being off the web travelling - thank goodness, I'm outside the fallout zone. Anyway, why would/should the City seek a FINAL and BINDING opinion from the AG who has a history of being far right. As CW McGinnis said this is a difference of opinion/interpretation of the possible conflict between the Election Director and the City. (I also note that the State letter was not concurred to by Secy. Johnson or the AG if that matters). Anyway, as such, a neutral party is needed to determine the issues - and that is the Court, and certainly not another branch of one part (AG and Election Comm.) of the State The burden is on the State now. If they, the AG really, feels they need to invalidate the election of Mayor Slater, then the State needs to file suit for an Administrative Ruling. That nonsense of the "press event" just reinforces my belief the Council did the right thing
Chris P. November 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Randy, I very much agree. I've only recently learned about all of these troubling political connections. And a friend pointed out that the guy standing with Glenn Clark in the picture is Janice Daniels's campaign Treasurer Ray Watts. Watts is the guy who lied about not providing a logo to the printer for her signs. (http://troy.patch.com/articles/similar-signs-recall-janice-daniels-vs-no-troy-recall#photo-11513742) I wonder if Watts pulled in the Secretary of State?
Total Health November 22, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I would think that before the council had the vote for mayor, that Ms. Blum would have researched the county AND state election laws to make sure we were in compliance ALL election laws. Well, maybe we will find out that she in fact did have information and choose not to divulge it hoping that no one would be the wiser.. thats already happened with our budget. WE heard in an accidental Szerlag staff meeting in his new job in Florida that he "buried information so deep that no one would find it"... Im certain that if he's already burring information that Ms. Blum is in the habit of burring info here as well... Id be shocked if this wasnt all planned and there's open meeting act violations. hmmm checking phone bills for call might be a good idea.
Irv Wengrow November 22, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I always love to hear from a good conspiracy theorist. Anyway, Ms Bluhm did exactly what you suggest. Her legal opinion received due diligence and was well-researched as far as compliance with the appropriate provisions of the Charter which is her responsibility. It there is a potential conflict, it is for the Court if and when a suit is filed, and certainly not to yield to the State Election Comm just because that is his opinion.
Total Health November 22, 2012 at 02:47 PM
It is my understanding that Ms. Bluhm worked with the county, and NOT the state, so she did not do what I suggested, and no, I do NOT believe she did her due diligence and did NOT do her research - as expected of her position of City Atty.. Because of this lack of due diligence, we might very well be front and center (yet again) of the news media with a court battle for Mayor AGAIN. I thought that all these citizens that were embarrassed by Daniels as mayor with her blunders were trying upset with giving Troy a black eye... Yet the same people are giving Troy a black eye themselves by not wanting researching and getting opinions from the state to make sure we are not violating State election laws..
Oakie November 22, 2012 at 03:46 PM
The city attorney and the city clerk found two or three examples of cities in Michigan with the same circumstances. None of them were questioned and didn't receive letters from the state. The timing of the letter Troy received is suspect to say the least. I would like to find out who was the motivating force behind the sending of the letter. I dough that if Fleming had been made mayor it would have happened. Until this city gets rid of the tea party dialogs this kind of thing will continue.
Aviva November 22, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Humorist Stephen Colbert has a word for the mood on these replies...TRUTHiNESS. Saying things like: "It is my understanding...", accusing Attorney Bluhm of burying information WITHOUT any proof, making legal judgments without a clear understanding of the law, etc., does not make any case. Facts...those are what matter. Concrete facts.
Total Health November 22, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I didnt realize we were in a Legal forum... Unfortunately we are not privy to all the details and like i said, when this is said and done, I would not be surprised if she knew this and decided not to inform the council, hoping that Slater would be Mayor because he is part of the "big spenders" and its always easier to run a city when you have a majority on council that will rubber stamp needless spending.
Sue Martin November 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
This is just spurious in nature...what you say here. Why would you think that a well-respected, open and transparent City Atty. would purposefully hide something? There is no evidence to support that claim.
Total Health November 23, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I am a big believer of researching ALL information possible - both sides of the issue - and then make a decision (not just one side of the issue). And no I do NOT believe that Ms. Bluhm did her due diligence on THIS issue. period. It was her job to ferret out all information she did not - otherwise we would have known the states opinion before the election.
Irv Wengrow November 23, 2012 at 02:41 AM
This situation is not unlike what Detroit is going through with their Counsel. She gave an opinion based on their Charter as Ms. Bluhm did with ours. Even had Ms. Bluhm contacted everyone everywhere, it would not have changed her interpretation of our Charter. The Council, even now knowing all of these opinions, still supported her interpretation by its' vote to not let the AG decide. It is the State's responsibility to take the issue to a Judge.
cookiepro2 November 23, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Re: CM Fleming's resolution to ask for AG's rushed opinion so as to have a February election. First of all, you haven't heard what the opinion is yet, so why make it final and binding? You never commit to more than you need to legally, that's foolish. It shows to me that he hasn't Troy's best interest at heart. He and his supporters seem to be pushing for a quickie election at $100K and unfair abbreviated amount of time for possible candidates to turn in petition signatures by Monday afternoon.
cookiepro2 November 23, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Second, the AG's website says the following about cases where he would not issue his opinion: Consistent with his primary mission, the Attorney General prioritizes opinion requests that affect the operation of state government. Because the Legislature has authorized local units of government to employ their own legal counsel to provide guidance on matters of local concern, the Attorney General typically does not issue opinions concerning the interpretation of local charters, local ordinances, locally negotiated collective bargaining agreements, and other uniquely local issues. Other typical reasons for declining a request are: 1) the requester is not a person authorized to request an opinion under the applicable law; 2) the request seeks an interpretation of proposed legislation that may never become law; 3) the question asked is currently pending before a court or administrative tribunal or likely to be the subject of litigation in the near future; 4) the request involves the operation of the judicial branch of government or a local unit of government; or 5) the request seeks legal advice on behalf of, or involves disputes between, private persons or entities. Seem's to me our situtation might fall under more than one of the above reasons, i.e., it involves local charter and could be subject of future litigation.
cookiepro2 November 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Thirdly, if the AG does decide to issue an opinion, here is an outline of the process: If the opinion request is granted, it is assigned to an assistant attorney general having recognized expertise in the relevant area of the law. This attorney is expected to prepare a thoroughly researched and well-written draft. The Assistant Attorney General for Law then reviews the draft to assure it is legally sound and performs any editing that may be needed before sending the draft to the Chief Legal Counsel. The draft also may be circulated to other attorneys within the Department of Attorney General for additional substantive review. Drafts of most formal opinions and some letter opinions are first submitted for consideration and approval by the Attorney General's Opinion Review Board (ORB), before submission to the Attorney General for his review. Given the time and attention accorded these matters, the opinions process may take several months to complete depending upon the complexity of the question presented. Given the above, I find it laughable that anyone could expect a well-researchd AG opinion by next week, let alone Monday (to make the February election deadline).
Sharon November 24, 2012 at 02:41 AM
So let me get this straight, Dale, Dave Wade, Thomas, et al. The heroes of Troy are the people who are TRYING TO GET THE STATE TO SUE THE PEOPLE OF TROY? How did you all get so twisted? The destruction of our good name, business appeal and property values continues thanks to you "fiscally responsible conservatives." With y'all protecting us, we'll all be destroyed in no time! http://www.keeptroystrong.com/2012/11/bob-gosselin-troys-enemy-number-one.html
cookiepro2 November 24, 2012 at 03:31 AM
So now I hear Bob Gosselin is calling the AG up himself since the city council wouldn't do it officially? Talk about going against what is good for Troy! We don't need another bruising and divisive election so soon and to be wasting money on special elections. I hope the AG follows his own rules, above, about giving out opinions, otherwise something will seem fishy.
Mark Ozark November 24, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Don't you people understand! The Troy City Charter is a WHIMSICAL DOCUMENT...c'mon get with it!
Mark Ozark November 24, 2012 at 04:11 AM
I have never met a realator who has touted Troy Schools while selling a home. Cuz Troy Schools are corrupted by evil puplic employees (not private sector). Similarly I have never met a realator who touted Troy as the Safest City (cuz Troy is protected by evil public employees) I am glad realators have such Morals. If I am wrong please tell me.
CC November 24, 2012 at 03:52 PM
You are wrong. I just bought a house two years ago in Troy and these were two of the biggest selling points made by the Realtor. Go to just about any listing of a home in Troy and you will see nearly all of them tout the award winning schools.
cookiepro2 November 24, 2012 at 08:38 PM
CC, I think Mark Ozark is being satirical like the Onion, with purposely ridiculous statements, to point out the utter ridiculousness of wanting the State to force a special election on us. Anyhow, I hope that was his aim! But good of you to point out the truth in case people take him at his word.
Linda November 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM
One of the participants in Wednesday's meeting, Michael Ross, has written to the Attorney General. He has inferred "election fraud." What a guy!!!! Remember, he is part of the Gosselin/Clark show.
Total Health November 24, 2012 at 11:31 PM
The citizens voted in Janice because she campaigned as fiscally responsible and lower taxes. She was recalled because she said really stupid things in public and then voted down the train station even though it was funded with Federal dollars and very few Troy dollars The people went from a "tax and spend" majority on council last election and in the most recent election the citizens voted in a conservative "low spending" majority this time. And putting Slater in as Mayor changes the citizens "intent" because he is one of the "big spenders" on council. The voters have an uncanny way of knowing what is right for this city.
Daffy Noodnicks November 25, 2012 at 01:58 AM
What a complete load. What has ANY member of council done that fits in with your labels. Did our former embarassment of a mayor cut your taxes or reduce your spending? Nope. Did your "tax and spenders" raise your taxes or increase spending? Nope. How about giving some facts that have something to do with real world?
Total Health November 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Daffy duck: The "tax and spenders:" certainly did raise our taxes with the Library milleage - thank goodness the tax payers didnt buy into their 2 mil increase they originally wanted!! And it took 3 milleages before they said they would close the library if we did not vote for it. THREE WEEKS LATER THEY "FOUND" 10 MILLS. So, yeah your comments are a complete LOAD. And Janice was not in office long enough to lower the taxes yet.
Daffy Noodnicks November 25, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Total Health: Nice childish name calling. The "tax and spenders" on the council did not raise taxes. The voters of Troy did. When they had an opportunity to vote for the library without the slimy dirty tricks pulled by JD and her pals. Overwhelmingly. Your falsehood about the "found" money has been debunked so thoughroughly and often I won't even bother. JD was in office for a YEAR and did absolutely nothing related to the budget except voted against a fiscally conservative one (the ONLY no vote) and admitted she found the budget "overwhelming ". How much time did she need? 10 years? 50? I don't have that kind of time, and neither does the city, for a mayor to learn how to be competent. Your comments have been and remain a complete load.
Total Health November 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Daffy" The voters voted in 4 conservatives this time into office and I think the council needed to honor their wishes in selecting a mayor that is a conservative. The liberals had their turn and now the conservatives need their time in office ,just like the liberals did. The 10 mills was not debunked.. its real $$. I dont have time to see more money be spent on HUGE inflated pensions either - they need to be re-negotiated, and cut to an "industry standard" type of pension. We cannot afford it and the "big spending" needs to be stopped. You may be surprised, but I normally vote democratic, yet I am also conservative when it comes to budgets - and "there's more burried in the weeds" as Szerlag said, that we need to find.
Daffy Noodnicks November 25, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Your mythical found money was exactly that. And your numbers aren't even right. It might have funded the library for a year, no more. It was known money would be returned, but not how much. Your rantings about pensions are also nonsense. Almost nobody is getting a pension now and for those that are, they are already completely funded. Where is the big spending? Who on his council has done anything that is SO "liberal" or "conservative"? Why havent the "conservatives" found any money buried in the weeds? Because there isn't any. You can't name a single thing and you certainly don't have your facts straight. These "liberal" and "conservative" labels are ignorant and meaningless, and do nothing but divide.

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