Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 9 of ?

Removing an elected official from office is difficult, which it should be.

I contacted the Muskegon County Clerk's office to find out the official number of signatures needed and the time frame. Here are the number of votes needed:

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The total number of votes cast for Governor in Dalton Township in November of 2018, was 3,530 of which a recall would require a number of signatures equal to 25% of the number of votes cast or 882 valid signatures of registered voters in Dalton Township.  This is following the process for filing for recall beginning with filing a recall petition with the County Clerk and approval of the petition language by the Election Commission at a Clarity Hearing, prior to circulating petitions for signature.

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And here is the rest of the process:

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Filing for recall is not a quick process.  When you file the wording with us, a clarity hearing is scheduled for not less than 10 or not more than 20 days from the date the wording is filed.  If the wording is approved you can begin to get signatures unless the person being recalled appeals to Circuit Court within 10 days; in which case the court has 40 days to rule and you cannot be getting signatures during the time of appeal.  If petition is approved to get signatures and the required number of signatures are obtained, the filing deadline for the recall to go on the November 2019 ballot is Friday, August 2, 2019 by 5:00 p.m.  Signed/circulated recall petitions may not be filed during the first six months or last six months of the officer’s term of office, if the term of office is two years or less; or during the first or last year of the officer’s term of office, if the term of office is greater than two years.

Should a sufficient number of registered voters sign petitions and the petitions are filed before the deadline to go on the November ballot (a recall can only go on a November or May ballot) there will then  be an election where the elected official’s name would appear on the November ballot along with anyone else that files to run against them.  I have a question into the Bureau of Elections about the filing deadline for other candidates.  Since Township Officials are Partisan offices and the Partisan candidate filing deadlines is July 23rd, before the last day a recall petition may be filed, anyone running against the current elected official on a recall may have to file as a “Candidate without political party affiliation who seek a partisan office” and the filing deadline to file qualifying petitions and affidavits of Identity is August 7th at 5 p.m.  I will have to confirm if that is correct but, at first glance, that is how it appears to me.

The first step is to obtain the recall petition, fill out the top portion and file it with the County Clerk’s office.

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What should the initial paperwork say when it's filed with the County Clerk's office? The reason for the recall will only be a couple of lines, and the important thing is that it is clear, that's why there's a clarity hearing. The county government decides whether they will give you permission to do a recall.

I think that there are two basic ways to go with this recall: either with lying, or with the Michigan Open Meetings Act violations. We could go with how they tried to thwart due process, which is a huge undermining of the entire American legal process, but I think the problem there is that it's less clear, and we need clarity.

I will work with both of these ideas to see which comes out better. In the end the person that files for the recall petition will be the one to decide.

Here are some of the proofs of various things:

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This is from the Muskegon Circuit Court's website showing the township suing Hidden Creek Farm.

Here is the lawsuit itself. Notice section nine where it says they can't own or raise livestock. The lawyers are good at their job (crushing citizen's rights, in this case).

No, it's not the same as the restraining order. Here's that.

No, it's not the same as the neighbor suing them. Here's that.

Here's the township supervisor Tony Barnes lying about it.

Here's a recording of the township zoning administrator Lorraine Grabinski lying about it.

Here's a trustee saying he wasn't informed.

Here are the minutes before the lawsuit and restraining order showing that it wasn't discussed in an open meeting. That's a violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

Here are the minutes after the lawsuit and restraining order. The lawsuit still isn't discussed, and the restraining order is voted on after it was already done.

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There have been other violations and other lies. For instance, the proposed meeting minutes have to be available to the public eight days after the meeting. People went in to get them a couple weeks after the meeting and were told they needed to fill out a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to see the minutes. That's illegal too, it's a violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act. But, that's harder to prove. There is a paper trail because there are the FOIA requests. But, the verbal conversation wasn't recorded. So, lying partially works on this. (Actually, this whole thing has taught me how effective lying is. If you're willing to stick with the lie, to tell it often enough and with enough persistence, you can convince a lot of people. So, good for you Dalton Township government, for being persistent and good at lying.)

Let's work with lying first, then we'll work with one of the broken laws and see which sounds better for the recall.

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On May 8th, 2019 Dalton Township filed a lawsuit against Hidden Creek Farm. On May 17th, 2019 Dalton Township supervisor Tony Barnes stated to Candese Charles of Fox 17 News that "Dalton Township has not filed any litigation against Hidden Creek Farm seeking to shut them down.” This is a direct violation of the public trust.

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Now, obviously there are a lot more lies than this. Many people have called the township and were told that the township is not suing Hidden Creek Farm. Even after the farm publicly released the lawsuit to prove that the township is lying people have still been unsure. I had two people ask me yesterday if the township is really suing the farm. Yes, yes they are.

The township will keep lying about it, I'm sure. And, they have their lawyers on it. Tony's wife is a lawyer. They know how to run the racket, how to trick people, and how to get away with it. Notice that in the public statement he added the "seeking to shut them down." bit at the end. That's the part where they try to play it off as just a safety issue. It's a good way to trick people, and to some extent it is working. If these lies work, then I have no idea why the Dalton Township Board would ever tell the truth to the citizens again, or why they would follow any of the laws for that matter. If the citizens do nothing about it, then the government officials can lie and break laws at will, as they have been doing.

Alright, let's look at one of the broken laws.

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On May 8th, 2019 Dalton Township filed a lawsuit against Hidden Creek Farm. As indicated in the Dalton Township April 8th, 2019 Regular Board Meeting Minutes, no vote was taken on this action. This is a direct violation of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.

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Either there was a secret meeting, which is illegal in this case, or there was a round-the-horn call where the individual members discuss it outside of a meeting, which is illegal in this case, or Tony Barnes, Lorraine Grabinski, and the township lawyers took action without even including the rest of the board, which is illegal in this case. I'm not going to include all of that because we are being straightforward and clear in this statement.

I took a small survey to see which people thought was worse, a violation of the Open Meetings Act or the lying, and no one voted for the OMA. It seems that people don't like being lied to. I think I'll do another survey between these two statements, but I'm pretty sure lying is going to win.

The next step is to find the lead person on this project and get the paperwork filed. Politicians make the laws governing recalls of politicians, so there are a few hoops to jump through. One of those hoops is that a single individual has to witness all of the signatures, meaning you can't do any version of an online petition or even give out single sheets for people to sign. But, you can have recall parties, get-togethers specifically for the recall.

Recalls are about accountability. When citizens elect an official they are taking a risk. They hope that they have made a good choice, a good selection. Sometimes it is revealed that a mistake was made and an official should not be in office. The recall process is how citizens hold elected officials accountable for their actions, and accountability is what we need in Dalton Township.


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