Posted on 27 February 2014.
by Judy Reed
A Grand Rapids judge has overturned a January decision by the Kent County Elections Commission approving recall petitions for two Cedar Springs city council members.
The Commission voted last month that the petitions submitted by Cedar Springs resident Mark Laws against Ashley Bremmer and Patricia Troost were of sufficient clarity for voters to know what they were voting on and why. Circuit court judge Mark Trusock reversed that decision Friday, February 21.
Laws filed new petition language at the end of the hearing, and a clarity hearing will be held on March 7, at 8 a.m., in the Training Room located on the 2nd floor of the Kent County Administration Building, 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
According to Cedar Springs City Clerk Linda Branyan, the new language reads:
1) On July 11, 2013 Ashley Bremmer/Patrica Troost voted to go into a closed session, to hear complaints against council member Truesdale. The Open Meetings Act 267, 15.268, 8a allows for a closed session if it is requested by the person to be disciplined or reprimanded. Council member Truesdale made no such request.
2. On November 14, 2013 Ashley Bremmer voted to change the city logo and tagline. For many years it has been procedure of the council to not take action on an item not previously on agenda for public input and comment. This change in the logo and tagline was not presented to the public for input or comment before the change was made.
This will be the third time Laws has filed the petitions. The first time, the Kent County Elections Commission ruled against the language.
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Posted on 30 January 2014.
The petition language to recall two Cedar Springs City Council members was approved by the Kent County Elections Commission Wednesday morning at a clarity hearing.
City resident Mark Laws filed the petition to recall Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer.
According to Elections Director Susan deStiguer, the petition language was approved 2-1. Chief Probate Judge David Murkowski expressed concern that the language might not be clear enough and voted no.
This was the second attempt by Laws to file petition language. The language was denied at the first hearing, because a new law says the language must be both clear and factual. The Election Commission’s approval of the petition language does not mean the statements are true, only that they are clear and provide facts. The language reads:
The new language (reason for recall) reads:
“1) On July 11, 2013 the city council motioned and supported to adjourn to a closed session and then adjourned. The Open Meetings Act 267, 15.267, 8A allows a closed session if the named person requests a closed hearing. No such request was made.
2) City council has a protocol in place requiring any change of import to be on agenda for public input and comment before it can be acted on by council in a following meeting. Former council member Merlington wrote this protocol. The new logo that was approved in November 2013 council meeting was not presented to the public for input or comments.”
The first reason applies to a council meeting where then Mayor Bob Truesdale was allegedly taken into closed session without asking for one and yelled at by other council members. The second reason has to do with the process of adopting the new logo.
Councilors Troost and Bremmer have 10 days to appeal the Election Commission’s decision to Circuit Court. If the court approves it, or if they fail to file an appeal, Laws can begin to collect signatures. If enough signatures are collected within the time frame allotted, and they are all valid, the recall would be on the ballot in November.
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