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Ahee

Recall signatures meet threshold


February 18, 2010
Petitioners trying to recall the mayor and four council members of Grosse Pointe Shores are a step closer to forcing the issue.

A sufficient number of valid signatures appear on five recall petitions to force a recall election in May, according to the Wayne County clerk.

The petition signatures were certified Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Each recall target has until Thursday, Feb. 18 to challenge the findings, according to Caven West, deputy director of the Wayne County elections division.

"Any challenges or issues raised must be brought to the county clerk," said West. "We'll take a look at those and determine whether the signatures are sufficient or insufficient. If they are sufficient by Feb. 23, we'll call a special election May 4."

Targeted for recall are Mayor Dr. James Cooper, Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Brian Hunt and council members Victoria Boyce, Robert Graziani and Frederick Minturn.

Each target received more than the minimum 390 valid signatures on recall petitions to move the effort, according to the county's count.

"It shows the power of concerned citizens exercising due democratic process the law gives us," said recall organizer Dr. Robert Lee.

Signatures were reviewed last week against voter registration rolls. Recall proponents observed the vetting at Shores city hall conducted by city administrators and county representatives.

"It took a total of six full working days over a period of 10 days for three employees to work through those signatures," Cooper said. "I can't imagine the cost of that to the taxpayers. On top of that, they had to accomplish their normal workload."

The signature breakdown is:

u Mayor Cooper, 488

u Mayor Pro Tem Hunt, 466

Council members:

u Victoria Boyce, 474

u Robert Graziani, 482

u Frederick Minturn, 471

Lee targeted the office-holders for passing a 1-mill tax increase last summer. The increase followed a winter election in which Shores voters agreed to recharter the then-village into a city form of government. Reorganization had been billed as a cost-saver.

"They did not give the people an honest assessment of the city's fiscal health before they duped everybody into voting for that charter that raises our (maximum allowable) property tax to 20 mills," Lee said.

Auditors in November said the city had been reported to the state for having a $210,000 unreserved fund balance deficit.

"People got upset when it came out that we have been under fiscal watch by the state," Lee said.

Shores City Manager Brian Vick said last month that press coverage of the city's financial situation is putting him at a disadvantage when trying to negotiate cost-saving union contracts and potential agreements to share services with other cities.

"To claim the newspapers are doing the city in because they're publicizing the financial shape of the village is incredible," Lee said. "If anything, public knowledge of the Shores' fiscal crisis ought to show the unions that the city has nothing to give, in terms of renewing unsustainable benefits; and it ought to show other municipalities that we have a serious reason to partner with them in making municipal service more efficient. That's what the press is for, to keep information in the public eye that needs to be in the public eye."

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