By Judy Reed
A resident working to recall Cedar Springs Mayor Charlie Watson over the Red Flannel issue has filed petition language with Kent County.
According to Kent County Elections Director Sue DeStiguer, a clarity hearing has been scheduled for Friday morning, at 9:45 a.m., in the Kent County Administration building 2nd floor training room. The Kent County Elections Commission, made up of the Chief Probate Judge, the Kent County clerk, and the Kent County treasurer, will decide if the language is clear and understandable to anyone reading the petition. The meeting is open to the public, and a decision will be made at the meeting. Both the petitioner and the defendant, and one or two supporters, are allowed to address the board.
According to DeStiguer, the language, filed by Molly Nixon, lists the recall as due to “fiscal mismanagement regarding Red Flannel logos, resulting in a larger expense to the taxpayers.”
“If approved, the language will be valid for 180 days,” explained DeStiguer. “If they start obtaining signatures on the petition, all the signatures must be obtained within 90 days of the 180-day window. We will then verify the signatures, and it would go on the next ballot, depending on when it was turned in.”
Nixon must obtain 170 signatures, which is 25 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election.
Nixon began working on a recall after the Cedar Springs City Council voted to no longer use the Red Flannel logo last month.
There was an ongoing disagreement this year between the City and the Red Flannel Festival on whether the City has the rights to use the logos, which the Festival has trademarked. They had requested that the City pay a licensing fee of $4,000, but the City refused, on the grounds that they have used the logos for identification for 70-plus years, and that the current city’s budget does not allow it. The Red Flannel Festival then sent a letter to the City on August 8 with a notice to file claim for trademark infringement. They reiterated their offer to accept $4,000 for use of two trademarks. The letter said that if the city did not agree to their proposal, they had to remove and destroy all logos on city property within 45 days of the date of the letter. The City Council then voted 6-1 to no longer use the logo. Pamela Conley was the lone dissenting vote.
None of the other council members that voted to stop using the logo have been targeted for recall.
Watson, who is in his seventh year on the council, said he will not seek to be mayor again in November, and he will not run again in 2013. “It’s not because of what has taken place, but it does make my decision easier,” he said.
He told the Post last month that he was trying to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money by not prolonging the issue, and that a special election will only cost the taxpayers more money. “If people are truly concerned about fiscal expenses, it doesn’t make any sense to hold a special election, if I’m only going to be here for a few month after the recall anyway,” he said.