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Bing recall in jeopardy

Rep. calls new laws ‘political gangsterism’

By Zenobia Jeffries
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — New laws, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in December, could mean the end of the effort to recall Mayor Dave Bing.

“When Lansing changed the recall petitioner law in lame duck, and in the middle of our recall against Dave Bing, they demonstrated their resolve toward this coup d’etat of injustice, which is directed at Detroit by the hands of the Republican government of this state,” Rep. John Olumba told the Michigan Citizen.

“Recalls now have been made nearly impossible. On display and for the record we can see crookedness, cronyism, bias and protectionism, in order to preserve the status quo — a corrupt mayor and a failing government.”

Gov. Snyder called the new legislation, Public Acts 417 and 418, a fairer and more streamlined process for recalling elected officials.

“These changes will help ensure recalls are done in a fair and consistent manner and help prevent political gamesmanship from both sides of the aisle,” he said in a press statement.

It is unclear whether the new laws, enacted with immediate effect, are retroactive.

Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, one of the bill’s sponsors, told this reporter they were not. “The purpose was to take the (recall power) out of the hands of special interests and empower the people,” he said.

The new laws narrow the time for collecting signatures from 90 to 60 days. The laws also change the review authority of recall petitions to the Board of State Canvassers, instead of county election boards, and mandates that petition language state “factually and clearly” the reason for the recall.

Each of the changes could impact the Bing recall that was approved Nov. 5 by the Wayne County Election Commission, according to State Rep. John Olumba, D-Detroit. Olumba, now serving a second term in office, was among those to have the recall language certified.

The language reads: “The mayor has compromised public safety in Detroit. He discriminated against residents by designating only a portion of the city with proper fire emergency response times.  He closed fire stations, which has led to prolonged response times for the remaining parts of the city.”

Olumba says since Bing re-opened previously closed mini-stations in early December — with more set to open in the months to come — the language becomes “not factual.”

Also, the petitioners need the 90 days to gather the 43,000 signatures needed to recall the mayor, according to Olumba.  So far they’re at 23,000. The 60-day deadline for gathering the signatures was Jan. 5.

He called the effort almost impossible. Regardless of whether the change in law affects the language, the time frame could still be an issue.

Olumba says, however, because he received such a positive response from citizens while collecting signatures, he’s not giving up.

“While executing the recall, the response from the people was resounding. People want change.  And so, while the recall has been made impossible as a result of political gangsterism, they have merely taken away one option. We cannot give up on the greater issue of self-determination in Detroit.”

The new recall laws eliminate one of the two special elections in the case of the recall. Recalls will now only happen in May instead of February and May. Instead of recall questions asking for a “yes” or “no” to remove an elected official, voters will have a choice between the current officeholder and a challenger. The challenger will be chosen during a recall primary.

Olumba says he’s afraid Bing will have committed all the damage — the removal of Crittendon as Corporation Counsel, the letting of million-dollar, no-bid contracts and the sale of Belle Isle, among other things — to the city by May.

The governor will continue to face the current recall system “per specifications of the Michigan Constitution,” he says.

The legislation also requires that lawmakers be in office for at least six months before recall language is submitted to the Board of State Canvassers for approval. It does not change the recall system for the governor.

Contact Zenobia Jeffries at zjeffries@michigancitizen.com

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