Letter to the editor
Recall letter misrepresented commission hearing
December 30, 2009 - Dear Editor,
The letter "Recall right to be dismissed," Dec. 23, misrepresented the actions of the Oakland County Election Commission at the hearing for the petition to recall Supervisor Wagner.
The commission asked us to delete and add certain words in the interests of "clarity." The requested changes were made and not only were resubmitted in a revised petition within 24 hours, but a second revised petition with additional clarifying language was also submitted within 72 hours of the hearing. Hardly the actions of citizens trying to "confuse" voters.
The writer made several inaccurate statements in his letter regarding the Wagner recall to which I feel I should respond.
First, voters need to be aware the petition reviewed at the hearing mentioned three specific actions by Mr. Wagner after Dec. 1, 2008. Michigan law prohibits an elected official from being recalled for actions in a prior term so we cannot cite Mr. Wagner's actions such as the improper firing of library personnel, which cost the township $300,000 in lawsuit settlements. The law does not allow us to mention in the petition Mr. Wagner's questionable dealings involving the purchase of the new Township Hall since that took place after the primary but just before the start of the current term. How convenient.
Second, of the many actions by Mr. Wagner this current term which exceeded his authority, the Recall Committee selected these few: 1) bonus payments made to an employee, without board approval; 2) increase by Mr. Wagner in the supervisor's car allowance, without board approval; and 3) authorizing architectural work for a new police substation not approved by the board nor voters.
Based on comments by the commission, we have changed the phrase "secret bonus payments" to simply "bonus payments." At no time at the hearing did I admit the bonus payments were authorized by the clerk and treasurer. Since at least four votes were needed to approve increases, why would I admit to something that is untrue?
To clarify which not-approved-by-voters building we were discussing, only one of which qualified, we changed the words "major new township building" to "new sheriff substation projected to cost $800,000." As I mentioned above, Michigan prohibits us from recalling Mr. Wagner for the new Town Hall purchase.
Concerning car allowance increases, even Mr. Wagner admitted at board meetings the allowances were not approved by the current or previous board. A matter of public record is hardly confusing.
Third, we are confident that when the County Election Commission meets on Jan. 4, they will approve one of the two revised petitions and will allow collection of signatures. We are not attempting to "confuse the voters."
Instead, we are working diligently and responding quickly to give the Election Commission ample opportunity to fulfill their role to determine the clarity of the petition language.
We will continue to revise our petitions as needed until we satisfy the Election Commission or exercise our right to appeal to Circuit Court. Once approved, we look forward to letting township voters decide if Mr. Wagner should remain as supervisor given what we feel are repeated actions on his part that have exceeded his legal authority and demonstrate a severe lack of needed management skills.
Henry S. Woloson