By Judy Reed
A resident has filed petition language with the Kent County elections office to recall Cedar Springs City Council members Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer.
According to a letter sent to the council members by Kent County Elections Director Susan deStiguer, a clarity hearing on the petition language has been set for Tuesday, December 31, at 8 a.m., in the second floor Training Room of the Kent County Administration Building, 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids.
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.
If the language is approved, it will be good for 180 days, and they must obtain all 170 signatures within 90 days. It would then go on the next ballot.
The petition language, filed by Mark Laws, gives two reasons for the recall.
1) Violated public trust by not following policy, procedure and protocol for the open meetings act—Act 267 of 1976, effective March 31, 1977.
2) Violated public trust by stating the process procedure to be followed for considering possible new city logo and then disregarded the process without notice.
The Post asked Laws to clarify what the exact actions were that the council did not follow. “The first one has to do with when they had a closed meeting and beat up on Bob (Truesdale),” explained Laws. “The Open meetings act says if a person wants to have an open meeting, they are supposed to have that option. Bob didn’t know that. They beat up on him pretty bad (verbally). It was loud—you could hear it through the walls.” Truesdale himself made a statement at a recent meeting that he didn’t know he had the right to end the closed session whenever he wanted to.
Laws said the second reason for recall had to do with the process the city council used with choosing a new logo and tagline. “They have a process where when they are going to change a policy, they will accept public comment at one meeting, and then vote at the next meeting. They didn’t do that. Last year they started to work on the logo and said the public could comment. They had said they would bring back three options for people to vote on or comment on. The logo we saw was a brand new one. No one knew about it until the day it appeared in the Post and they voted on it.”
The City appointed the committee made up of representatives of the community about a year ago to begin taking submissions and ideas for a new logo and tagline. They were charged with selecting an idea, and presenting it to the council. The group met in January to review 16 entries, and unanimously selected the tagline, “cherishing our heritage, embracing our future” with a logo of a cedar tree and a spring. However, design work needed to be done. In September, City Manager Thad Taylor reported to the council that the committee had met and decided on a logo and tagline based on samples from a designer. Taylor said he then met with the designer, and she was going to do a second draft. In October, Taylor reported that what they had wanted was “too problematic—too much stuff in too little room,” so the designer met with the committee to share her concerns, and after the meeting provided two more pages of ideas. The committee then refined its vision and provided feedback. In November, the final rendition of the logo/tagline options came to the City Council, and they approved them at the same meeting where presented. Both Bremmer and Troost voted for the new logo/tagline. Many Red Flannel supporters had thought Troost would vote no on the new logo and hold out for an agreement with the Red Flannel Festival to begin using their logo again.
Laws said he could not recall the other two who voted for the new logo—Ken Benham and Mark Fankhauser—because Benham is at the end of his term, and Fankhauser was still in his first year when the language was filed.